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7 Tips for Onboarding Remote Employees

woman on computer at work

There’s been much talk over the past several years (and plenty of data) around remote work and its growth potential. Needless to say, no one predicted that it would become a necessity in 2020.  While some company’s doors remain closed, many have adapted to this virtual world and getting back to business as usual.  This includes hiring.

So what does this look like for managers when it comes to the onboarding process?  There’s a lot to unpack here, but let’s start with some basic reflection: Remember your very first day on the job? Now, imagine it being conducted solely over a computer screen! Not an easy task by any means.

Ultimately, your goal should be to provide the best information-oriented welcome party that you can for your new employee. It’s absolutely imperative to make them feel like part of the team. And the faster you do this, the faster they can start showcasing all of the awesome qualities that made you want to hire them in the first place!

Luckily, there are ways to simplify the onboarding process and still deliver a noteworthy virtual welcome to your team member. Here are 7 tips for onboarding remote employees when everyone is remote.

1. Adapt Your Strategy

First thing’s first – embrace the word adapt like it’s the most common verb in the English language. The only way your onboarding process works in today’s unique work climate is to give that age-old idiom “roll with the punches” a hug and get to work.

Lay out the onboarding process you currently have in place. Seriously – write it out on paper, index card it to a thumbtack board…whatever you need to do to see it. Then, ask yourself and your team: Where are potential roadblocks and how might we need to adapt?

Forward thinking is your friend in this process.

2. Focus on the Fundamentals

Similarly, what are the basics that an employee should walk away with on their very first day? Another way to think of this – what is the most important information for you to dispense?

Given the natural disconnect that comes with virtual communication (even though it tries so hard), it might help to focus on your company’s values, mission statement, and goals first. Establish a team-oriented mentality, then you can worry about the nitty-gritty details that need to be discussed.

3. Use Technology to Your Advantage

Since technology usage is inevitable, take full advantage of it! Whether its via Google Meet, Zoom, Skype, or any other digital communication platform, face-to-face interaction is key in your onboarding process. And with any of these platforms, you have the option to introduce new employees to multiple team members at once, or conduct several one-on-one discussions.

We might not be able to shake hands right now, but there are still plenty of ways to personalize the work experience and, particularly, those first few days for a new employee.

4. Diversify Your Training Process

A study by Sales Benchmark Index found that over 2/3 of new employees were dissatisfied with their first day because of a manager’s lack of involvement.

What’s more, employees are people, and people like diversity. Make sure you’re involved in your new employees’ training, and make sure that training is multi-faceted. No one wants to spend 8 hours in front of a slowly changing PowerPoint presentation.

Diversify your training process. A long presentation can easily be followed by a quick meet-and-greet or virtual team-building activity. (Guess what? Two truths and a lie still works over teleconference.)

5. Over-Communicate

Consider this the “Holy Grail” of the onboarding experience. Communicate, communicate, communicate. This isn’t reserved solely for the end of the day. Real-time communication is essential.

Sure, you’ll have some of that when presenting to your new hire, but we all know there’s not enough time in the world to cover everything in a just a few days.

So, reserve time outside of informational sessions where you can check-in with your new employee. This could be as simple as asking them how they’re holding up. It’s well worth your time and will be appreciated.

6. Adjust on the Fly

In the teaching world, educators must adjust on a daily, if not hourly (or minute-by-minute), basis. If something’s not working with the kiddos, it has to be changed.

Use this same mentality when evaluating your onboarding procedures, and don’t be afraid to adjust the process in real-time. The best thing you can do is be transparent with your new employee. Today’s virtual landscape is still an adjustment for all parties involved, so there’s no harm in changing your swing if the ball’s not leaving the infield.

If something feels disorganized or less than optimal, consider adjusting it the next day. Or, hey, say you’re covering ground quickly and feel good about getting your employee started on something that was planned for tomorrow. Why not?  If it’s working, it’s working. If it’s not, you’ll know.

7. Overprepare to Adequately Prepare

With today’s struggles, there is no situation where you can be overprepared. In fact, overpreparing for the onboarding process can only help you adequately prepare your employee.

Having a treasure trove of informative presentations, activities, meet-and-greets, and team-building sessions at your disposal is extremely beneficial. Splitting these facets of the onboarding process between multiple days is advised. And having backup plans or “If we finish this, we’ll move onto this” agendas is never a bad idea. Overpreparing? More like optimizing.

It’s a strange new world that we’re navigating, but one in which efficient and optimized onboarding practices can only help your company’s future.

With remote work trending upward, now is the perfect time to not only try out what kind of virtual training works for you and your company, but also provides the best experience for your soon-to-be employees.

Interested in more resources for your business? Let Onward Search help! Please contact our team today to get started.

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