According to Gallup’s most recent survey, most employees (58 percent) are currently working remotely, either on a full-time or part-time basis. This new reality creates both opportunities and challenges for human resources departments, which must now master the ins-and-outs of onboarding remote employees. As if onboarding wasn’t challenging enough before COVID-19!
In response to these challenges, many companies are digitizing their remote onboarding process so it’s accessible to their employees – online and via mobile devices – from the comfort of their home office. The good news is that our friends in HR don’t need to reinvent the employee training wheel: They just need to upgrade and adapt the onboarding experience to meet the needs of newly hired remote employees.
How are you going to deliver your onboarding experience to remote employees? What is your employee onboarding checklist? Through the q0 fits into the big picture – essentially, why it matters. You can demonstrate company culture, values, and expectations by sharing company leaders’ stories and honoring employees with perks and announcements, like employees of the month.
1. Create Training Portal
Companies need a portal or central repository of digitized training courses and content that can be accessed remotely by employees who may be spread across different cities, states, and countries. Some companies, for example, use a learning management system (LMS) as their onboarding and training portal. They can administer the entire program using one simple web-based interface.
2. Get Paperwork Done Before Their First Day of Work
With the right technology, human resources can accelerate the amount of time it takes to complete the new-hire and onboarding process. A secure candidate portal can be used to send new employees a digitized contract that can be “inked” with an e-signature. This allows new hires to review their job offer and validate their personal information from their own device on their time.
3. Reach Out Before Day 1
How will new employees get a sense for the workplace culture? Since you don’t share the same physical space, compensate in other ways. Before onboarding begins, create an early positive impression by having team members schedule a virtual coffee and chat with your new hire. Follow that up with an e-card or a quick video congratulating the employee, along with a “welcome aboard” letter from your CEO. Even better, why not have flowers or a special gift delivered to their home?
Onboarding Process for Remote Employees
4. Begin Onboarding Process
Onboarding can be easily delivered from within your online training portal. Because the virtual paperwork was previously completed, you are able to cut to the chase. There are multiple goals. One of the most important and meaningful items on the day 1 agenda is introducing new employees. You want them to feel like they are a member of a team, to have all the information and equipment they need in order to fulfill the requirements of the job, and to understand clearly what’s expected of them. And you also want them to have a sense of the company culture and values, and how what they do fits into the big picture – essentially, why it matters. You can demonstrate company culture, values, and expectations by sharing company leaders’ stories and honoring employees with perks and announcements, like employees of the month.
5. Share Information
You want your onboarding process to be based on mutual, two-way communication. Nonetheless, there is a good amount of specific information that you need to deliver to new employees. You can provide more details about their job responsibilities, goals and objectives, company policies, procedures, and perks; have them review the organization’s chart, vision, mission, and values statements, and share your company’s origin story. You’ll also want to provide a list of resources, software applications, and login codes that employees need to access.
Here are some other topics to cover:
- What happens if you’re at home but sick?
- Vacation and PTO policies
- Workstation and equipment needs
- Regularly scheduled staff and team meetings
- Accountability measures
There’s a lot of talk in the wake of COVID-19 about transparency. Employees desire it from their employer, along with trust and empathy. Being candid and open builds trust. The very act of sharing information will go a long way towards helping to engender trust and transparency.
Celebrating must be on your employee onboarding checklist – but when to celebrate is the question. In order to celebrate the completion of the onboarding process, you need to agree on when it’s over. Is it once the initial onboarding training is done, after the employee has led a project, or after they pass a test demonstrating that learning objectives were met? Once you decide, it’s time to celebrate, perhaps with an ice cream celebration or happy hour – remotely, of course.
7. Provide Ongoing Support
After the initial onboarding training is completed, maintain ongoing contact and support with new employees. Some will require technical support and assistance developing their workstations. It’s also important to help employees develop relationships with other employees. It may feel like you’re playing matchmaker, but helping to forge these connections can be critical. Everyone has a need to belong. When they don’t, what happens? Their productivity drops and eventually they find another job.
Remote employees should be able to access informal learning environments like employee forums and Q&A. This empowers them to find the answers to their most pressing questions and learn from the experts.
8. Evaluate and Adjust
Upon completion of the process, survey employees to determine their level of satisfaction with the onboarding process and their ideas for improving it. Once you obtain their feedback, make any necessary adjustments, and follow up with them so they know their input was acted on. Also, make sure to survey new employees and their managers periodically to assess their development and determine their ongoing and future training needs.
Nailing remote onboarding is the first step towards developing happy, engaged, and productive employees. Companies that can leverage onboarding remote employees and turn it into a competitive advantage will survive and thrive in this new world.
Author of the article:
Gary Valkenburg; CEO and founder of World Manager; a platform to allow every CEO to train, track and communicate with employees, plus control company compliance nationally and globally.