With more and more organizations implementing remote and hybrid forms of working, it has become more important than ever to rethink how your organization welcomes and onboards new hires. Investing in a strategic onboarding program can deliver key benefits such as higher levels of employee engagement and reduced turnover rate.
However, Gallup notes that only 12% of employees agree that their organization has an adequate new hire onboarding process. This is not surprising when you get to know that 58% of organizations focus their onboarding programs on time-consuming paperwork and processes.
With talent scarcity and resignations on the rise, organizations can no longer ignore the need to rethink and improve their onboarding processes. Organizations that seek to keep their employees engaged and productive must aim to deliver an exclusive onboarding experience that motivates them from the get-go. Therefore, it is particularly important for organizations to overcome the new hurdles that remote working environments bring.
When onboarding remote employees, new factors come into play that employers must take into account. This is true, especially for large organizations that work across multiple locations and time zones. Here are some of those key challenges associated with remote onboarding.
In a physical office environment, new hires would typically show up for work on the start date and find all the requisite equipment and tech to be ready for them. However, with remote working, this is no longer possible. The burden is on the employers to ensure that the new remote workers have all the necessary equipment and supplies delivered to their location on time, on the first day of work, or earlier. Moreover, it also adds a new challenge for the new hires as they also need to go through the supplies and ensure that they set it up properly. They also need to check for access to the different systems that they would need to be connected to before they can meet stakeholders or start working remotely.
In a physical office or workplace, it would have been quite easy for new employees to communicate with their team members and supervisors. All they had to do was walk up to a person’s desk and communicate whatever they needed to. Now, there is a plethora of virtual communication tools that new employees may have to navigate whenever they have a question to ask, no matter how simple. Should they send an email? Is instant messaging appropriate and, if so, which tool should they use? Or should they schedule a virtual meeting instead? This level of uncertainty makes the onboarding process a lot more daunting than it should be.
When working remotely, it is no longer possible to have a quick chat at the water cooler or share coffee breaks together. Instead, any meeting that they wish to have, even for a casual conversation, will be virtual. This can lead to the employee feeling isolated and lonely, as per the many studies and reports in recent years. All of these make it harder for HR managers and business leaders to build a strong sense of company culture and foster relationships among team members during the onboarding process.
It is quite normal for employees to receive plenty of information during the onboarding process. It can become especially painful if there is an excess of information that new hires have to consume virtually. A lengthy remote induction program on day one, comprising several sessions, could lead to information overload for new hires.
As per a research report by Brandon Hall Group, a great employee onboarding experience can significantly improve employee retention by up to 82%. While there are difficulties with remote onboarding, it is not an impossible task. There are plenty of steps that organizations can take to streamline the virtual onboarding process and make it easier not only for themselves but also for their new employees.
Many organizations fail to account for this most basic of steps. Creating and maintaining a detailed checklist for onboarding each new employee can go a long way in streamlining the onboarding process while ensuring all essential steps have been completed for the employee to join.
Create specific schedules for each employee for the first few weeks of onboarding. Imprivata worked with their hiring managers to create such schedules which included activities such as ‘meet and greet’ sessions, and sending them useful facts and information about the company. Share the schedule with your employees in the form of a task list in a project or time management tool. This will make it easier for them to understand what their first few days at the organization will look like.
To help your new employees, start the onboarding process even before they join your organization. Qualtrics makes sure that every employee gets the equipment they need days before they join. This allows the new hires to hit the ground running and get up to speed faster. In addition to office equipment, you can also send your new employees a bag of goodies and more details about your organization and the team that they are about to join. Even something as simple as a video message from your company’s CEO congratulating the new hires can go a long way in making them feel a valuable part of your organization’s community and create a sense of belonging.
One of the biggest challenges for new employees has always been to navigate and get used to the new systems at the workplace. In a virtual environment, this becomes harder as they are unable to get their questions answered immediately. To solve this, you can schedule training sessions for new hires on the tech and the systems that they will be using as part of their new job. HubSpot made it a priority for their new hires to participate in training sessions while also offering extra optional sessions for building a sense of camaraderie.
Building a sense of community and team spirit is easier when the team members interact face-to-face on a daily basis. However, this could be difficult while working remotely. Therefore, you need to take extra steps to build that sense of connection. VistaPrint, for example, holds a social meeting on the first day of work for new employees. During this meeting, the new hire is given the opportunity to meet with team members one-on-one and even play games to develop bonding and connections.
The key to being efficient lies in streamlining workflows and data. You may already have several systems in place to support your employees with their onboarding and day-to-day work. However, are these systems integrated? Integrating your systems allows you to minimize manual intervention and confusion while helping your new employees easily tackle everything that they need to do at their new job. For example, you can connect your onboarding system with a time tracking system and project management system. This will help your employees manage their time better with the different tasks that they must complete as part of their onboarding.
According to CandE Research Reports, soliciting new hire feedback can improve your relationship by up to 91%. A step often forgotten even for in-office onboarding programs is taking feedback from new hires. For remote onboarding, gathering feedback through online surveys within the first 90 days will be particularly beneficial. The data that you collect will help you uncover ways to improve your onboarding program and make it better for future employees. Verisys Corporation makes it a point to continuously adjust its programs according to the feedback that they receive. This has enabled them to identify areas of improvement, which further allowed them to offer a better onboarding experience to the next set of hires.
As with many processes, virtual or remote onboarding programs take time to perfect. They require continuous improvement to meet the changing needs of employees. Simplify your remote onboarding processes by implementing the steps mentioned in the checklist and reap the benefits of enhanced employee engagement.
Author Bio: Arpan is an assistant content marketing manager at Replicon. He enjoys learning and writing about technologies that are making the world a better place.