Starting a new job can be intimidating. The nerves can creep on us as we head into the office for our first day, going over our introductions in our head and trying to remember where the toilets and break room are as we navigate through our new surroundings.

All these emotions might be exacerbated when an employee starts a new job remotely. Remote employees won’t have the benefits of meeting their new colleagues or managers in person, and this can be pretty daunting. Remote workers who begin their new job from their home office won’t have someone on hand to show them how to work any software or new technology they might be using, so it might take them longer to adjust to their new ways of working. Remote employees might find it difficult to get a feel of the company culture straight away without the ability to join in with in person events and meetings, but there’s still a lot you can do with a remote onboarding process that will give your new employees the welcome they need.

What is employee onboarding?

Onboarding is defined as

‘The process in which new employees gain the knowledge and skills they need to become effective members of an organisation.’

The onboarding process is about putting all the right steps in place that will help your new employees adjust to their new role. It can be intimidating starting a new job, having to learn all your new responsibilities and how the company works, not to mention everyone’s names! Onboarding focuses on making this integration simple and easy for both the company and the employee.

The new employee needs to learn about the company’s mission, vision, and goals so they’re able to familiarise themselves with the business ambitions. The onboarding process is about sharing all of the information they need to have a full understanding of the business, but also how their work will contribute to the bigger company picture. One aspect of onboarding that is important to remember is that it is a process. This means you should be thinking of it as a continuum, instead of just a single day or week orientation. This could last anyway between 3 and 12 months, but the time spent on the onboarding process will award the new employee with all the knowledge and skills they will need for long-term success. Ben Peterson, CEO of BambooHR, a HR technology company said,

“If we don’t worry about onboarding before the employee starts, then we’re already way behind.”

Why is onboarding important?

Without guidance, information and the right recognition, new employees will quickly feel put off and are less likely to stick around.

The onboarding process will help your new employees feel at home. This can have a huge impact on retention rates! Almost one-third of all new hires quit their jobs within the first six months, which indicates that too many companies are still operating with an undeveloped, inadequate, or inefficient company onboarding process.

New employees who experience poorly planned initiations might decide quite early on that the organisation is badly managed, and who would stay at a job that has already shown signs of chaotic disorganisation? But great employee onboarding can improve employee retention by 82%, according to research from Glassdoor. A well-executed onboarding process will welcome a new hire and get them familiarised with the process of the company as well as integrating with other team members. The employee will feel comfortable, at ease, well-informed and appreciated for their time and effort which will increase their chances of being happy at work.

This is great for your business! Here’s some key statistics about the employee onboarding process:

Onboarding in todays remote work landscape presents even more challenges for remote employees, which is why your organisation needs to implement a proper onboarding plan with a clear process that will support your new remote employees and benefit the company’s culture. Here’s what a great onboarding process for remote workers could do for the entire organisation:

·     Improved communication between teams and a strong connection

·     Better informed employees with a clear understanding of tasks

·     Better employee wellbeing

·     Improved productivity and efficiency

·     Better employee retention rates

·     Reduced onboarding process costs

·     A strong onboarding process is also said to have a great impact on employee engagement

Does employee onboarding improve engagement?

Did you know that highly engaged employees are 87% less likely to leave their job? Time and time again the results show that employee engagement is one of the biggest drivers for overall business success and increased productivity.

The employee onboarding process will help employees feel happy within their new environment. This might be through the chance to build strong relationships between the entire team and key colleagues, how quickly they have been able to gain access to the guidance and support they will need to get their job done, and the recognition and appreciation shown to them from hiring managers in the first few weeks. 55% of employees say that they feel more engaged when their work is recognised!

When employees are welcomed into their new role and get a sense of the great company culture with a friendly environment and a supportive HR team, their onboarding experience has already managed to boost employee engagement and happiness.

Everyone knows that happy employees’ equal productive employees!

One of the biggest challenges facing businesses with remote employees is the lack of in-person communication. But there’s still a lot you can do to prepare for your new hires and level up your remote onboarding process.

We’ve shared these 6 effective ways that will help you improve the onboarding experience for your remote team:

1.    Send a pre-onboarding package

The important thing to remember when planning remote onboarding is that your new hire won’t have the same level of connection that they might have felt with the rest of the team if they started in the office.

Without the remote employee onboarding won’t see the new hire physically entering the building, it might leave them feeling disconnected and overwhelmed with the job quickly. That’s why it’s important to include additional effort to ensure a positive experience of their remote onboarding.

One of the best ways to make a new employee feel like team member straight away is to send them a pre-onboarding package. This could be anything from a welcome letter to a gift box full of bespoke items and company swag. Your new remote employee will appreciate the extra effort and will settle in with the team quicker.

Did you know?

We can help you create the perfect employee welcome packs & swag boxes ​that show you care
End to end branded new employee swag box service. We take care of the design process, then pick and pack your products into custom new employee boxes. Every order includes a co-branded gift box and personalised message card as standard. If you want to take it a step further, we can design and print your very own branded gift box.
We can even store your new hire swag boxes until you need them in our UK warehouse and you can send us all of your current swag to store too.
Finally, we can send your staff welcome packs anywhere in the world!

2.    Send all the important paperwork

It’s a good idea to create digital versions of the important employee documents you might share with new employees on their first day. These might include employee handbooks, policies, documents with systems that your company details, or mission and value statements.

This can help your new remote employee understand the company and what is expected of them as team members. This could also lay the foundations for a great company culture and help them get used to their new team.

If you have the time and resources, you might even want to make a video to go alongside any handbook for a more personal connection with your new starter. Being able to quickly familiarise themselves with the rest of the team, their managers and the entire business will help them settle in.

3.    Make sure they’re well-equipped to do their job

This is all about making sure you can bring the office to the employee! Remote employees might not always have all the right tech equipment for their role or the right facilities to help them do their job from their homes.

As an employer, it’s your job to make sure that a remote onboarding is fully equipped to carry out their tasks. Will they need a laptop? And if so, does their job also require them to use a monitor, keyboard, mouse, cables, or any other additional equipment? As well as the physical equipment and access to any software, will they need training for this equipment? Instructions on how to use specific apps?

Make sure that you have all this arranged before their first day of work. This means planning and determining what needs to be sent out to them. It helps to have a checklist ready that will help you make sure you haven’t forgotten anything.

4.    Help them feel comfortable

You want your new employees to feel comfortable and valued within your new role, so it’s worth taking the time to personalise each onboarding process to an individual employee. Without the face-to-face interactions employees might find it difficult to connect and get to know their colleagues.

To make sure they feel welcomed and valued you will want to spend time developing a personalised onboarding plan for each new hire. This means picking up on how they respond to each part of the process. Explain to them how their remote onboarding will work, for example what meetings will be taking place each day? What is the purpose of that meeting?

It’s great to get feedback from your remote new hires as you continue through the process. This can really help them settle in and feel comfortable to highlight any problem areas or issues they might be having.

5.    Set clear goals and expectations

In the office it can be easy to notice if a new employee is struggling with anything or just how they are doing but working remotely doesn’t present as many opportunities to do so. That’s why it’s important to establish clear onboarding goals and expectations. These could be weekly goals, then monthly and even the first 90 days.

Make these goals as detail as possible during the remote onboarding process so that employees know exactly what is expected of them. It’s better to overcommunicate than under-communicate when working remotely, so make sure you’re also scheduling in frequent meetings or check-ins with your new starts so you can prevent them from feeling disconnected and lost. Video calls are the closest you could get to face-to-face interaction so try to utilise those for your remote onboarding experience.

Make sure these meetings have clear agendas so your new employee knows what to expect and can come prepared with their own questions, requests, and feedback. Let your employee have some control over the check-ins after a while, as you don’t want to end up micromanaging. If they seem to be doing well, that’s a good indication that you can schedule in fewer check-ins.

6.    Find the right balance and offer support

It can be easy to accidentally overwhelm a remote employee with too much information and not enough time to take it all in.

Your new start will need sufficient time to take it all in and also adapt to their new role and working from home routine. Make sure you deliver information is small manageable amounts and give them plenty of time to learn on their own.

Be available if they are looking for additional guidance, there’s nothing worse than not knowing what to do and struggling to get through to a manager or team leader who should be helping you.

Finally, make sure that you are introducing your remote employee to the rest of the team! Set up a team meeting, send an email round, or send your new employee an organisation chart that lists every person in each department. Building strong, healthy relationships with your remote employees is crucial for your company culture, so make sure they know it’s safe to reach out when they need to.

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