How to Conduct Remote Employee Onboardings

The COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in a "new normal" of social distancing, remote work, and meetings powered by video conferencing platforms. As the nature of management, recruitment and onboarding has changed, companies have been forced to adapt by developing new onboarding programs for incoming talent. Some new hires have only experienced very limited in-person interaction with managers or colleagues in the office; others have only ever met their coworkers over Zoom or Skype.

While necessary, such changes in the onboarding process have come with their share of challenges. The onboarding process is key to employee retention, and is thus a critical part of an organization's overall recruitment and talent management strategy. What can you do to ensure that your remote employee onboarding program is a success?

The following information discusses 6 tips on how best to conduct remote employee onboardings. These suggestions will help make your new hires feel comfortable, equip them for their work duties, and ultimately enable them to thrive in their new position.

Implement a "Pre-Boarding" Process

Even before COVID-19, much of the recruitment process typically took place online by means of emails and form submissions. While many job candidates have no issue with the online hiring process, they may begin to feel uneasy as the days until their first day of work count down, and yet no one from the new employer has contacted them. In fact, some 46% of job seekers say that they would be willing to accept other offers if they didn't hear from someone at the original hiring company between the day that they accepted the offer and their first day on the job.

The solution to this dilemma of unease can be referred to as "pre-boarding." Simply put, the pre-boarding process is a way to put your new hire at ease by welcoming him or her to the company. This may involve sending a welcome email, offering some company "swag," or even directly reaching out via phone, text, or Zoom. You can let them know who they'll be working with, introduce them to members of the department, and give them info on whom to contact should questions arise.

Along with these considerations, you may want to send them important documentation even before their first official day, such as employee handbooks, culture decks, and your organization's mission statement.

Make Sure Employees Have All Necessary Equipment

If your employees require specialized equipment in order to perform their work, make sure that they have that equipment on hand before their first day. This may require that you deliver the needed equipment several weeks in advance; that way, they'll be able to get acclimated and won't have such a steep learning curve on the job.

Of course, you'll also need to ensure that your new hires have all of their required credentials in order. Their company accounts need to be set up, and they need to verify that they can log into those accounts. Make sure that they know which apps they'll be expected to use, and have those downloaded onto the appropriate device. On the back end, you'll also need to add them to any mailing list or other communication channel for their department and/or team.

Consider leveraging a solution like Electric to make the IT aspects of the remote onboarding process a breeze. In our platform, submitting an onboarding request takes a matter of minutes. Once your request is submitted, our team will handle the rest.This includes: 1) device provisioning & procurement; 2) application, software, & file access; and 3) credential management.

Ensure that All Resources are Accessible

You may also need to double check with each new employee that he or she understands how to use important resources and access key information related to the onboarding and training process. For example, almost one-quarter of American workers are using online collaboration tools for the very first time. It may take some time for these workers to master even the basics of Zoom, or other video conferencing platforms.

In such a scenario, you need to ask yourself: What is this hire's level of technical proficiency? Does he or she require more attention compared to other new employees? How can we best assist this employee to navigate the tools and programs required for the remote position?

Have a Clear Training Plan in Place

It's no surprise that many new hires may have trouble staying focused during virtual training sessions. After all, there is almost always some distraction that arises around the home — and when small children are involved, all bets are off!

However, if you have a solid training plan ready to go, then you can help your new hires to stay on target and learn what they need to learn in order to perform essential job activities. That being the case, your training program must be job-specific. Just as one example, a new hire in store support may need to understand policies around order fulfillment, product returns, and so forth, while an employee in sales will likely benefit from a deep dive into a featured product or service.

Additionally, it's important to set clear expectations for progress at the start of the training process. If you provide new employees with a "roadmap" of the next few weeks, then they'll be in a better position to gauge their own progress and make adjustments as needed.

Schedule Regular Feedback Sessions

When dealing with a 100% virtual work environment, it's usually better to overcommunicate rather than under communicate, at least at the start. Driving this point home, one survey found that 72% of employees view one-on-one time with their direct manager as the most important aspect of any pre-boarding or onboarding process.

The point is, don't be afraid to frequently "check in" with new hires. Schedule sessions between them and their teams, direct managers, and any other key players in their development. In addition, encourage them to ask questions and give feedback during these sessions as well. If you find that they are doing well and don't require a lot of personalized management, then you can always pull back.

Assign New Hires a "Buddy"

New employees need attention, but their manager's time and energy may be limited. One solution that many companies have found to be most helpful is the implementation of an ambassador or "buddy" program. In other words, you may choose to assign a more experienced employee to mentor the new hire, and guide him or her through the onboarding process. According to research from the Human Capital Institute, 87% of organizations that develop such a program find that it's an effective way to speed up the proficiency of new hires.

If you follow the 6 tips above, then you'll be able to successfully conduct your remote employee onboardings, and not only attract but also retain high quality talent.

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