Even though we are seeing the country’s highest unemployment rates since the Great Recession and many of us are working from home, businesses still need to hire and fill critical roles and onboard remote employees smoothly. Recruiting talent while social distancing creates a new challenge for employers. How do you bring new hires into the fold and give them proper orientation while most managers are working remotely?
Check out these 7 tips and tricks to keep the critical onboarding process intact and efficient—virtually.
1. Maintain open and frequent communication between new hires, managers and their team
Regular progress meetings are a great way to keep lines of communication open. Frequent one-on-one meetings with a manager and new hire is recommended. It’s also important to create team meetings, preferably video conferencing, so personal bonds and relationships can start to develop with team members. Structure your projects so multiple members are reaching out and working with the new hire to build the team culture.
2. Define expectations and responsibilities for the role up front—and share them
You should clearly establish responsibilities for the new hire’s role before work begins. It will be critical to set a solid foundation in the beginning and make sure the remote employee has a clear understanding of their role and what is expected from them. You should also explain the company values, team roles and objectives, schedules and employee performance review process. The goal is to create a smooth onboarding process that eases uncertainty and anxiety.
3. Provide organization policies ahead of time
Employee handbooks, HR guidelines, time and attendance reporting polices and technology guidelines should be shared ahead of time and explained during the onboarding process. You can have HR and IT professionals available during onboarding, so they know who in the company to go to with questions and how to find information they need such as forms or reports.
4. Leverage technology to onboard remote employees as much as possible
A critical step in the onboarding process that is commonly missed is providing the appropriate technology to your new remote employees. Set up their computer, email, network access, database and application privileges and any hardware such as printers or mobile devices before their first day of work. You can also check in with the new hire’s home office situation. Ask them if they need help with internet speed, hardware, furniture or physical environment. Another challenge with onboarding remote employees is a lack of face-to-face contact with their manager and peers. The use of video conferencing technology such as Skype for Business, Zoom or Microsoft Teams will help solve this problem.
5. Encourage a supportive team culture
There are several different ways you can introduce a new employee to the team. One example is to ask the new member to record an intro video to help the rest of the team learn more about them. The important thing to remember is to make everyone feel comfortable and welcome. As mentioned before, having frequent team meetings (weekly, bi-weekly, etc.) and sharing what everyone is working on, any issues or concerns and interesting personal information will build team camaraderie.
6. Set up a coaching or mentor program for new hires
Consider partnering new hires with a coach, buddy or mentor early on so they have someone reliable to help them answer silly questions, find resources and best practices for executing their regular tasks. Formally assigning the new hire a mentor that they can meet virtually gives both individuals an opportunity to develop a new relationship. The mentor program also shows how much the organization cares about the new hire’s professional development.
7. Ask for feedback
After a few months of working, your remote new hire should start to feel comfortable with their responsibilities, team collaboration and reporting progress. As with any process, asking for feedback is an important step to continue to improve and learn from any gaps. Now is a good time to ask for feedback on the onboarding process from your new hire, so the next time you onboard someone, their experience will be even better.
As an employer, your primary focus in the first few weeks should be on relationship building and human interaction for remote employees. Building team morale will be critical to making your new staff feel welcomed and comfortable. Contact us if you have questions or need any advice on a managing a remote workforce.