How do you do remote employee onboarding?

How do you do remote employee onboarding?

Creating a structured and consistent employee onboarding experience is essential for creating employee experience, but it also benefits the business’ bottom line. We know that right?

But with the pandemic going on a lot of businesses are still hiring. Unfortunately, some of these businesses have never remotely inducted a new employee. It’s a challenge to be able to innovate and start doing so very quickly.

Instead of trying to come up with an entire new system, or implementing a full on-boarding strategy in a short time span. Let’s take a look at a quick on-boarding plan you can implement right now to onboard your staff remotely and quickly.

Now, traditional on-premise onboarding has it’s challenges also. Having to be physically present is one of the bigger ones. That is, the manager, HR, or someone needs to be there on Day 1 to help get the new employee(s) settled in.

Another key challenge is the start date itself – especially when trying to get several new employees onboard. To save on time, resources and create efficiency, you’ll usually want employees to start as a cohort, rather than individually. Trying to do so on the same date creates more work for the business.

Travel is another challenge- if you have offices spread out geographically, then getting employees into the head quarters or another location for training and onboarding means excessive costs, inconvenience, and… more headaches!

So, traditional onboarding has a lot of challenges in itself. Remote (or virtual) onboarding is beneficial in this regard. It actually helps alleviate some of these problems. So even if you have been relying on face to face onboarding, then now is a great time to re-evaluate the strategy.

Creating an online on-boarding process not only helps you continue to hire, but it will help keep costs low and create a better, more streamlined experience for the employee also.

There are some key principles you need to know first though. I’d open the following links in a new tab and understand these. If you really want to create a better, happier, and growing workplace, then it’ll help reading through the following:

  1. Creating a better employee experience strategy
  2. Eight fundamental principles for better employee experience
  3. Creating an onboarding experience that boosts performance
  4. Example of a three month onboarding program (traditional)

You’ll notice that the underlying theme of the onboarding is no different whether it’s online or face-to-face. I’ll go through these below.

An obvious point to note though is if you have most of these in place but it’s paper based or it’s face-to-face, then the transition to going online should be a much smoother one. If you don’t have these in place, then you need to do some strategizing before hand.

1. Mandatory legal or compliance (payroll, superannuation, other HR)

Most likely you or your HR department is using some sort of electronic HR and Payroll system anyway. Most likely it is electronic or cloud based – giving both the company and the employees to process the information online. If not, then processing these can be done over email as well.

2. Online welcome pack for the employee

Instead of offering the welcome pack as a printed document. You can serve it online via email. The welcome pack consists of the following:

  • A welcome message
  • The company vision, mission statement and value statement
  • The company’s objectives
  • The employee handbook or link to it (see number 3)
  • An on-boarding checklist for the employee
  • Employee’s key objectives for the first day, week, month, quarter
  • A common resources guide (links, descriptions, or attachments to key resources or processes)

None of these are not do-able online. In fact, it’s easier to serve it online. In fact you can enhance the experience by also doing short videos, setting up meetings, and drip feeding the information through.

Why not put in a message from the CEO? The company’s vision, mission, and values is something the head of the company drives. By personalizing these through a video, you can start to align new employees with the business objectives from day 1.

3. Onboarding checklists

The onboarding checklists provide a template for both managers and employees to follow along with. They provide a structured list of tasks or activities that the manager and the employee need to do. Yes, the manager needs to have his/her own checklist also. I can’t express how significant this is so that you reduce friction between management and staff, as well as create more consistent experiences for employees over time and throughout the company – ensuring you maintain the same culture.

The checklist can be delivered in the form of a Word or Excel document. See our resources tab for free templates you can use.

Is on-boarding and developing staff difficult for your business?

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We’ll help you create on-boarding & learning experiences that increase performance and employees will love you for it.

4. Use online tools to help employee get to know the team and key stakeholders

Getting to know your team members helps create ‘links’ for the employee. The more links you can create for an employee, the harder it gets for employees to consider moving to another company! This is especially relevant when you have people working remotely.

We are social creatures, so our need to belong is essential – especially when it comes to the workplace. Getting employees to get to know their colleagues and key stakeholders should be a priority. When you have everyone working in the office, this is much easier. But when everyone is working remotely – then it’s a little…. challenging.

Remember the first thing you want to do is to make sure the employee feels welcomed, settles nicely into the company, and is able to ask any questions they have. The welcome pack is a good start to make this happen, but also instruct the new employee on what they can expect over the next few days, weeks and even months.

But this is where your team chat and video conferencing tools come into play. Tools like Zoom, Loom, Slack, Microsoft Teams, Skype, Etc exist for this purpose. It’s up to you as a business decide which tool works well for your organization.

However, tools alone, will not make the process effective. Instead encouraging team members to actually take the time out to meet up online requires more commitment!

There are several ways to do this for a new employee:

  1. Put key stakeholder meetings as part of the onboarding checklist
  2. Ensure the manager has their first check-in with the employee on their first day (put this in the managers checklist also)
  3. Set up an informal team chat for team building – rather than talking about work
  4. Set up one-on-one ‘online coffee’ chats among team members – once again keep these informal
  5. Get employees to have online meeting with key managers or executive managers over the course of the month or quarter. The sooner you do this, the better though.

Putting this on the checklist helps and gives the accountability to the employee to start fostering relationships with team members from day one.

5. Aligning the employee with business objectives

Doing so remotely is no different to doing this in the office. Creating alignment between the business and the new employee should start to happen naturally through the onboarding process if you’ve included it as part of the Welcome Pack, and also as executive managers have online meetings with new employees.

The manager should have their first check-in with their new team members on day 1, during week 1, and again towards the end of the first month. How often they have their check-ins is highly dependent on team dynamics and operations of a business.

6. Induction and mandatory training

Training is a key part of the onboarding program. See the difference between onboarding, training, and induction. This depends on the resources you have in-house but can be one of the more challenging ones to take online. It’s not impossible though.

Note that creating the right learning outcomes, doesn’t have to happen through a formal e-learning approach. In fact, structured and more formal types of e-learning are not best suited for all training anyway. So, there are a few things that can make it easier to start training new employees up.

Here are some tips to create better remote training outcomes.

Setting up an online learning portal (LMS) for more formal and structured e-learning. This requires some specialist knowledge to start implementing. If you have an LMS you already use, then tapping into that is the easiest way to expand your online training. But there are easier and arguably better ways to train people up.

Set up a peer-to-peer online training. These can be done in multiple ways – regular weekly or fortnightly sessions by colleagues on specific topics. Or even short online updates every day or other day. If you teams do at least a weekly catch up then you can add on a small training session where people go through new leanings, and share that with the team.

Job shadowing online- for computer based work, you can easily get team members to share screen while working. I’d even argue that this is easier as the new employee can easily take screenshots, ask questions, take notes and collaborate with the team member more easily online than in person.

Another clever way of teaching is by creating an induction email campaign! Set up a drip email campaign to slowly feed relevant information to new employees as the settle into the company. Email is a good way to ‘push’ knowledge out, but also delivers it in smaller bits of information so that it’s easier to retain.


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