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You’ve hired remotely, now it’s time to think about designing a fully remote onboarding experience for your new team member.
Through a well-organised onboarding, you have the opportunity to increase a team member’s likelihood to stay and this is important considering it takes 6–9 months’ salary on average to replace an employee (StaffBase). Onboarding programs are designed to set the new employee up for success by educating on company culture, way of work (procedures, systems, workflows) and basic skills and extends further to include assigning of first projects and creating a social connection with the new team.
Overall the experience should show that you’ve put time and effort into making the employees first weeks and months exciting. Putting in the time makes the employee feel valued and is a big plus for both employee retention and productivity as studies show that employees increase their work efforts by about 20% when they’re subjected to an effective staff onboarding program.
This article will give you practical tips on designing a fully remote and people first onboarding process.
During COVID-19, even seasoned remote workers may find themselves in a less than ideal environment for learning or working. For those that rely on shared workspaces and childcare centres that are now closed or normally work in an office, impromptu home setups have become the norm and come with a new set of challenges.
While preparing an onboarding process during the pandemic ensure that you give space for your new starter to speak about any challenges they may have and adapt your program to assist. It is also important to give your new starter a view of what work-life will be after COVID, i.e. will they be returning to an office or will they experience different working hours.
Remote workers aren’t naturally exposed to the energy and culture of the office environment and won’t have the face-to-face mentorship those onsite employees do. These challenges force us to become more organised in our programming, more creative in the ways we present learnings and more proactive in the way we instil community and collaboration.
Onboarding should always begin before the new employee’s start date. An employee’s first touchpoint with the company begins during the hiring process and following a successful placement, communication lines should remain open to ensure a smooth evolution from candidate to employee.
The onboarding process can last anywhere from one week up to a year. Experts say that it takes up to 8 months for a staff member to fully settled into a new role.
Tip: Orange Quarter asks new starters to fill out a questionnaire before starting. We include general questions about their goals and where they’re from so we can create an introduction email but we also sneak in some questions about their favourite office snacks so we can have them sent in their swag bag.
Onboarding should be approached with “general items” that all new employees should complete and then “department items” that are specific to a certain team or department. This is an easy and modular way to ensure onboarding is individualised to the requirements of the new starter. Most online onboarding tools will allow you to do this.
Onboarding should be individualized to the requirements of the new starter. Onboarding platforms like Eloomi and Personio allow you to easily customise onboarding using a modular approach.
You only get one chance to make a good first impression and studies show it is extremely important to get it right for employee retention. Being well organised is a sure-fire way to make a great first impression so consider the below…
You know exactly what your new team members need to learn, now it’s time to think about optimising the presentation. Onboarding should be designed to maximise engagement and information retention while also creating a great candidate experience. Consider the following when designing your program.
Most onboarding platforms will allow you to measure and track results. It is important to take note of this throughout the process and use them as a reference point for regularly scheduled check-ins with the new starters.
Fostering a positive team culture is a big deal when it comes to employee retention and ensuring you’re able to integrate remote employees into that culture should be a priority during onboarding. Informal chats and get-to-know-you sessions all help to build a strong working relationship. Rapport building helps people feel closer to their team and will improve performance and decrease displacement.
Find ways to share and celebrate successes online. A mention during a group video call goes a long way but you could also get creative with automated Slack messaging and delivering gifts.
Culture Buddies at Buffer
Buffer assigns both a mentor and a culture buddy to the new hire. The culture buddy is typically on a different team and selected to help guide the new hire through culture-related discussions and provide additional context on company history and norms. This buddy will chat weekly with the new hire for the first six weeks and normally becomes friends throughout the process.
GitLab CEO Meet
Gitlab are famous for their fully remote business model and have a streamlined remote onboarding process as well. Gitlab pre-organise a slot with the CEO each month that new starters join and prepare questions for.
Google ‘Just in time’ email
At Google, just one day before a new hire joins, the hiring manager is sent an email with five small tasks that will need their attention. Creating a sense of urgency and responsibility for managers improved onboarding results by 25% at Google.
Doist Mentor Trips
Doist arranges Mentor Trips where a new teammate flies to meet their mentor in a different city and works with them in person for a week. This can expedite and ease the learning process and strengthen the bond between mentors and mentees.
Lunch Roulette at Warby Parker
To increase social interaction within the first weeks, a developer at Warby Parker created “lunch roulette.” An app that randomly selects eight people from within the organization every week to have lunch with the new starter. An initiative easily managed remotely through a Zoom call
Onboarding is as much about skills development and practical knowledge as it is about building stronger social connections with the team to foster a culture of belonging. Onboarding is essential in giving new hires the support and confidence they need to thrive within the company.
Combining thoughtful hiring and intentional onboarding ensures employees establish an intrinsic connection with the company boosting collaboration and commitment from any location in the world.