Did you know that 69% of employees are likely to stay with a company if they had an excellent onboarding experience? In recent years and more specifically now in these times of crisis, the onboarding of remote employees has gained a lot of popularity. As a Human Resource executive, over the years I have been asked a common question,
How to onboard remote employees?
Well, I follow a specific process that has proven to be helpful that I will be sharing in this article. We have to keep in mind that on someone’s first day at an office; you can greet them in the morning with a welcome kit in hand, show them to their desk, introduce them to everyone, set up a meeting, and explain the process.
Onboarding remote employees is quite different and managing remote employees is difficult at the same time. Since everything is virtual, an introductory handshake becomes an introductory message and a welcome lunch turns to asynchronous greetings that might span for several days across multiple time zones if your new hires live far away. Mastering remote onboarding is crucial and will ensure new team members to thrive in their role.
Following are some ideas for onboarding remote employees:
1. Send equipment they need to do their jobs and a welcome kit
Office employees typically have a desk, chair, computer, and other peripherals when they arrive on their first day of work. Remote workers may not have a home office set up yet, and usually require the company to provide the usual equipment.
Order/Assign computers and other hardware remote workers need well ahead of their first day. Confirm they have received all necessary equipment for their work and assist them with setup, if necessary. You may also choose to provide employees with an ongoing stipend to use toward electricity, internet, phone, and supplies.
Help your new hires feel like they are now a part of the team by sending them a welcome package.
You can include Company merchandise like T-shirts, Coffee-Mug, Notebook & Pen, and even a personalized short note welcoming them to the team. Who does not like gifts, right?
2. Introductory Email
Your team might already know that a hiring process was taking place, but maybe unaware of the successful candidate. Give them a heads-up beforehand about the new hire and how their role will fit into the larger team. This is one of the best practices for onboarding remote employees.
Before your new report begins, ask them for a short bio about themselves which you can use to introduce them. Ask them for information on the following:
- A few details about themselves (e.g. location, hobbies)
- Where they worked before
- What skills they bring to the team
- What they are looking forward to about starting their new role
3. Team Introduction Call
Set-up a video call with the team and encourage employees to initiate conversations with the new hire. You can also set up separate one to one/group meetings with their coworkers, their managers, employees from other departments they will work closely with. These introductions are key and help make new team members feel welcomed by the team. This tip specifically builds the base for the common question of How to engage remote employees.
4. Assign a Remote Buddy
A good practice for the onboarding of remote employees is pairing new team members with a mentor.
A mentor acts as a point of contact for any questions or concerns and should regularly meet with their mentee. Buddies can help new hires learn things like who to go to for IT support, and how other employees use tools to communicate. Once a week is a good cadence for meetings
5. Checking In Regularly
Stay in close communication with new hires and regularly initiate conversations with them. This serves multiple purposes:
- Building a rapport
- Establishing they can reach out to you whenever necessary
- Reducing the feeling of loneliness and isolation
Ask them about how their remote onboarding process is going on, are they encountering any issues in their role, and whether they feel supported. Don’t always check-in about work. If they have mentioned hobbies or interest to you, bring those up or send them interesting articles or videos about something they have mentioned. When it comes to managing remote employees paying attention to details is key.
6. Employee Feedback
Feedback is crucial for designing and executing great HR programs. New hire surveys help you learn what you have done well in the early employee experience, and where you could improve the process for the future.
If they answer honestly and that feedback is critical, it’s key not to act defensively or take feedback personally. Instead, let them know you will work on fixing the issue and do exactly that. Feedback is a gift. Use it to improve your remote onboarding plan in the future so that your next hire has a better experience.
Employers are seeing the benefits of a remote workforce, and lately onboarding of remote employees is becoming more and more common. Employee onboarding sets the tone for the entire employee experience. Consider how you can create a process that will engage and retain the talent you have worked so hard to recruit, and then collect feedback and fine-tune it. This is an investment that will surely pay off. Combining thoughtful hiring and intentional onboarding of remote employees will enable you to collaborate across countries as you scale your remote team.
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