Lessons Learned From Remotely Onboarding Thousands of Employees


“By listening to feedback, taking an empathetic approach, and remembering what it’s like to start a new job, we’re finding new ways to better engage and welcome new employees.”

Maria Lees, Director of IT at Jamf, was interviewed by Partner Marketing Manager, Amy O’Connor at the inaugural Elevate conference, a virtual event that brought together powerful changemakers to elevate the way we work. An established leader with over 20 years’ experience in IT, and a solid track record of leading and growing highly effective teams, Maria shared the lessons she has learned while remotely onboarding thousands of employees.

Read on for her insights on making remote onboarding more personal, streamlining IT support and device management for new hires, and continuously improving the employee experience.

Remote Onboarding is More Than a Process

Remote onboarding shouldn’t be thought of as a process, but an experience. “Starting a new job is a personal life experience that evokes emotions and creates memories. Employee onboarding is a personal and professional journey, unique to the employee,” says Maria.

“Human Capital Institute reports that 58% of organizations say their onboarding program is focused on processes and paperwork. Sure, onboarding involves tasks that need to be completed, and processes need to exist, but how often are we thinking about the human on the other side?”

“For new employees, it’s not just about learning how to do the job they were hired to do. They’re forging relationships and getting to know the company. They’re excited and nervous. This is a new chapter for them, and they’re wondering if they made the right decision. Is this company everything they thought it was? Will they feel connected to their co-workers in this remote reality?”

“Don’t forget there is a human at the other end of your process,” Maria says.

What does a great remote onboarding experience look like, and what are the common pitfalls?

“A great onboarding experience is empathetic and transparent,” says Maria. “If you’re waiting until a few days before, or even the day of a new employee starting, you’ve already missed the boat. You should be engaging with new employees from the moment an offer is accepted. Be prepared and ensure they’re set up for success with all of the equipment and tools they need from day one.”

Many organizations mistakenly believe that onboarding is limited to an employee’s first week on the job. Maria says the experience should extend far beyond this. “You invested a great deal of time and resources in finding the right person for your team. Now that they’ve started, show them you’re committed to helping them achieve success in their new role.”

Throughout the remote onboarding experience, it’s also important to ensure new employees aren’t left feeling overwhelmed or confused. “Lay out the journey they are about to embark on, this will alleviate any anxieties associated with starting a new job.”

“Be careful of providing too much information too quickly to new employees. Starting a new job can feel like drinking from a fire hose. Don’t expect employees to retain all of the information you’re giving them. Ease into it, break it up, and deliver information and training in short chunks. Second, don’t assume new employees know how to use your organization’s tools or technology, especially your core workplace apps.”

Lastly, remember that there is always room for improvement, and your onboarding experience should evolve over time. “Crafting a great employee onboarding experience is a collaborative effort. It’s not any one team’s responsibility. Without collaboration, teams become misaligned and new employees become confused and frustrated. What are new hires saying about your onboarding experience? Ask for feedback, and make sure to listen to and act on that feedback.”

How Jamf Remotely Onboards Employees Around the World

Jamf invests heavily in the employee onboarding experience. They have a 90% retention rate with over 2,000 employees worldwide. The first 30 days for new employees involves a global orientation experience that helps foster new relationships, builds a sense of belonging, incorporates new hires into the company culture, and builds a foundation for career growth and development.

During this time, new hires complete a virtual course that provides the foundational knowledge of Jamf’s core business tools, customer focus, and helpful resources. A new employee summit is also held virtually over the course of three days, with the highlight being a live talk from the CEO about Jamf’s mission, purpose, and values. Teamwork activities also take place throughout the summit week.

Alongside orientation, employees undergo department and role-specific programs and activities during their first 30-90 days. Additional resources are made available, including a Wiki page dedicated to the new employee journey, which provides clarity around the programs, activities, and support resources available.

Remote Onboarding for IT

When it comes to IT support and device management, Maria has developed a seamless induction for new hires. “My team is directly responsible for the IT onboarding experience at Jamf. The employee is our customer,” she says. “Our job is to make sure new Jamfs are successful in any way we can, so they can be productive and present on their first day, and every day thereafter.”

When notified about a new hire, Maria’s team immediately orders and ships a new MacBook directly to the employee’s home. A week before their start date, the employee receives an invitation to IT orientation, along with a welcome message that includes a summary of what to expect. Their first day begins with a step-by-step walkthrough of how to set up their new laptop.

“Once the machine is fully provisioned, IT introduces our core workplace apps and provides a brief overview of Jamf’s self-service portal where employees can install additional apps, update configurations, and troubleshoot common issues. We also review the technology and additional equipment available to them, which includes things like an iPhone, iPad, and monitors.”

“After the IT orientation, new employees are directed to the Jamf Report, a weekly all-company meeting where new hires are welcomed to Jamf. Because we know they’re drinking from a fire hose, IT also follows up later that morning with an email to summarize everything that was covered in orientation, along with some additional information.”

“A Slack channel is created for new employees, which provides a direct line to IT where they can ask questions or get help with any issues. Within this Slack channel, we also post daily tips and tricks, links to new hire information, and we highlight other popular channels and employee resource groups. We know that setting up these channels of communication helps new employees feel more connected to the company and to each other.”

Again, Maria emphasizes the need for continual feedback and improvement. “Because IT plays such a critical role in the overall employee experience, it’s important that we stay closely aligned with HR, hiring managers, and various other teams. IT has biweekly meetings with HR to coordinate on the new employee experience.”

Remote Onboarding Doesn’t Have to be Impersonal

As Maria shared at Elevate, the remote onboarding experience can be the difference between an employee that feels confident and welcome from day one, or a new hire that struggles to navigate the already stressful journey of starting a new job. Above all else, it’s important to remember that there is a human at the other end of your process who is going through an experience. By taking a personal, empathetic approach, organization’s can significantly improve retention rates and boost employee satisfaction.

For more advice on how organizations can thrive in the new world of work, check out the other sessions from Elevate, now available to watch on demand.

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