Remote Employee Onboarding and Training

Not being able to meet with future employees or recently hired ones presents several challenges, including how to give candidates a real feel for the job and the company culture. This checklist will help businesses plan for remote employee onboarding and training.

Already, in our global work environment, there have been times when in-person meetings with remote employees aren’t possible. Yet, the pandemic has prompted more businesses worldwide to want to move employee onboarding and training online.

Yes, people are still hiring. We’re back in an “employer’s market,” which is when the business has more leverage because candidates are “desperate for the opportunity.” Still, that doesn’t mean you want to risk treating a new hire casually. Offering onboarding and training to remote employees helps make them feel valued and connected to your company.

“Organizations with a standardized onboarding process experience a 62% boost in new hire productivity, along with a 50% boost in new hire retention,” according to the Harvard Business Review. So, take the time to plan and prepare for remote onboarding and training.

This article’s strategies for handling the remote employee onboarding process effectively can positively impact employee engagement, saving you from costly turnover when the COVID-19 situation finally calms down for good.

#1 Make Remote Access Simple

The new employee is going to need to get online to do work. Make one IT person responsible for getting in touch with remote workers to discuss their home computing setup and securing their access. If you’re providing the work laptop, make sure to ship it in time for the employee to set it up before their first day.

Give remote employees access to their email from the business website address and the credentials they will need to sign in remotely to your intranet, cloud computing, and communication platforms.

#2 Pace the Onboarding Process

The first day of a new job can be overwhelming in the best of times. Now your remote employees have to adjust all alone, virtually. So, don’t throw all kinds of onboarding information, training requirements, and work tasks at them at the outset.

Allow them to process and reflect. Set up a time for them to reach out and ask questions on a virtual conference call.

Since onboarding is taking place online, you might even have HR send the necessary new hire paperwork ahead of time for the individual to get out of the way before their first “real” day of work.

#3 Centralize Information Online

A consistent company culture supports business success. So, you need to make sure that your remote employees are exposed early to the company’s core values and mission. An online employee handbook can help to convey expectations and answer common questions new hires ask.

Post your digital employee handbook in one centralized place on your company’s online platform. This is where you’ll also put any paperwork that needs to be filled out. If you need to require health information from employees to prevent the spread of COVID-19, your company can secure a space on the company portal for the employee’s health reporting.

You can also put training materials and files specific to the employee’s roles and responsibilities in this online location. You could also share videos of past company events and materials that communicate your brand stories.

Don’t focus only on communicating company policies. Recording a video tour of the business can give new hires a visual of where they’ll one day be working. If you are tech-savvy, you could even leave a spot in this video to cut in each new individual’s workspace specifically. A personalized welcome letter from a supervisor can also be a nice touch.

This reference library will need to evolve as the situation shifts. Keep it current, and it can be a great starting point for any future employee. Cutting the clutter helps fend off overload.

#4 Keep First Day Traditions

Even though the employee is joining your organization remotely, you can still keep some standard first-day events. For instance, a supervisor will want to introduce new employees to everyone in their workgroup on a virtual conference call or via your business chat stream. Use Slack? Host a virtual coffee break where someone shares a few interesting facts about the new employee to break the ice. Getting to know a remote employee can be challenging, but the effort you make will help them feel connected. Plus, it will demonstrate to your other staff that your business cares about its people.

Lunch with your new colleagues is also a common tradition. Make a big impression on your new hire by offering to send them food ordered in from a local restaurant for lunch one day in their first week. You might even schedule the food’s arrival for a conference call planned to answer any questions about the new job.

You could also mail a gift bag of branded merchandise to arrive at the employee’s door on their first day. Slippers or pajamas could be a fun nod to the work from home lifestyle.

#5 Establish a Plan

Uncertainty is stressful. The year 2020 has shown us that in spades. Help your remote employees know what working for you looks like by outlining expectations and setting a plan together for goals.

A checklist of short and long-term responsibilities can help give the new hire a much-needed structure. You’ll also want to schedule regular check-ins, which can be more frequent at the outset and taper off as the remote employee gains confidence. The Harvard Business Review recommends, “at key intervals—three, six, and nine months—hiring managers should formally engage them in conversations about the organization’s history and brand, how performance is measured and rewarded, and how growth opportunities arise.”

#6 Arrange Online Training

One more thing to put in your central onboarding folder online? An invitation to or integration with your virtual learning tools.

Depending on the number of people you are bringing on remotely, you may want to invest in online learning software to streamline new hiring training. Many of these make content easily accessible online and let you and the new hires monitor progress from a single dashboard.

Your remote training can also take advantage of cloud computing and video conference tools such as online whiteboards, screen sharing, breakout rooms, and chats. This can help make the overall experience more engaging.

An advantage to online training? When instructors pre-record sessions, the new hires can access the information whenever and wherever they want, on any device. Nevertheless, incorporating face-to-face conferencing into the training experience will help the new hire feel more included. Video calling allows people to start building professional relationships with colleagues early on, despite working remotely.

#7 Set Up Quick Wins

It’s easy to get frustrated when starting a new role. That’s true of any work environment. Now imagine you’re trying to adjust to new expectations while working from home and unable to get any in-person feedback or support from supervisors or colleagues. It’s going to be more challenging for that remote employee. So, set up easy wins.

We mentioned a checklist of short- and long-term goals. Make sure that you have short-term objectives on there. MIT’s Sloan Management Review has reported 60% of companies do not set short-term goals for new hires. You can give the new hire more confidence by giving them targets you know they can meet. Someone who feels successful at your business is more likely to be loyal in the long run.

With this new hire checklist, you’ll find your business is off to a great start managing remote employees. But don’t stop now. You’ll also want to create ongoing opportunities for new employees to integrate with their colleagues. Remote employee engagement activities can bring everyone together for a shared objective—and that’s going to serve you well, pandemic or no.

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