How to Overcome Remote Onboarding Challenges – For Productive, Engaged Hires

Remote onboarding brings unique challenges for both employers and new hires. But it seems a more remote workforce is in our future, so we must learn to navigate this changing landscape.

Introducing remote onboarding best practices is essential to retaining great employees – a recent study by Glassdoor shows that great onboarding improves employee retention by 82%. After all that work during the hiring process, you want new team members to stick around!

Goals of Onboarding

  • Successfully setting up employees with everything they need to do their job well.
  • Going beyond the basic tasks and expectations of the role.
  • Welcoming the new employee, make them feel part of the team, and relay how they fit into the overall picture.
  • Showcasing your company culture and brand.
  • Introducing them to your systems, policies, procedures, and guidelines.

4 Common Remote Onboarding Challenges

1. Engagement is More Passive.

Keeping new hires engaged in a remote onboarding process can be complex and requires a more intentional approach. A tedious process including a pile of PDFs is no way to introduce a new member to your team. How can you make the entire process more fun and engaging?

2. Ineffective and Disorganized Systems are Magnified.

If your company’s onboarding process is inefficient and disorganized, it is magnified during a remote onboard. How often have you heard things like, “We don’t have a computer for you yet,” or “We’ll get you an email address soon!” Disorganized processes are not only a stressful way to introduce a new hire to a company, but they also cost money. Efficient, organized systems welcome new team members and set them up for success from day 1, which means getting to work and being more productive.

3. Lack of learning through osmosis.

When face-to-face in an office, many aspects of culture are more apparent than when working remotely. Popping in to ask your neighbour a question isn’t possible when working from home, which often means delays in communication.

4. It’s all work and no play.

Remote onboarding is missing the social aspect of welcoming a new hire (which is the fun and exciting part!) There are no water cooler chats, coffee dates, or group lunches, which makes it more challenging for the new employee to get to know everyone. Not having the social aspect of work can lead to feelings of loneliness, disconnect, and disengagement, which is the last thing you want as an employer.

Tips for Successful Remote Onboarding

Have a solid onboarding system in place.

The more organized your plan, the more successful you will be. Break down all the necessary steps, brainstorm what new hires need to know and who they need to meet. Consider a strong ‘how we work’ reference guide that includes all those daily norms seasoned employees may take for granted. Automate as much as possible to keep the process efficient (First 30 is a great tool for this!).

Focus on the experience.

The entire onboarding process should reflect your company’s brand and be consistent with company norms and cultures. It should feel like a continuation of the recruitment experience – you can’t woo a new hire to join your organization and then fall flat with the onboarding experience. Look at it as a cohesive program that sets them up for success.

Assign a well-connected buddy.

Who knows the organization well? Who can help your new employee assimilate into the culture, be the go-to for questions, and help them connect with the people they need to know? Choose someone who can make the new team member feel included, valued, and appreciated. Having a well-connected buddy can help them get a sense of community in a work-from-home world.

Make the process as engaging as possible.

Remote onboarding is missing the social aspect and, therefore, can be a tad lonely. Don’t leave your new hires to read a handful of PDFs and be done with it; consider adding videos, or brand quizzes, with branded merchandise as a reward (it will also help them feel like they are part of the team).

Be sure they have everything they need.

What does your new employee need to be successful? Check-in on equipment they have, what they need to function remotely, and what the company will cover. Include introductions to the software and apps you use to communicate.

Keep in constant contact.

Have regular check-ins from HR for the first six months to a year to ensure all new hires adjust and fit into the company.

The benefits of a positive onboarding experience are huge! 90% of employees decide within the first six months if they will stay long-term with a company. Each time a new hire leaves within those first few months it costs the company money. The cost to recruit and onboard a new employee is roughly 20% of the base salary. Do it well the first time, so you only have to do it once! This is your chance to make a stellar first impression on your new employees that could last their entire careers.

Even though welcoming new employees remotely has its challenges, you can set your hires up for success with a bit of planning and intentional engagement. You will end up with more productive and efficient employees more quickly and more engaged team members who know how they fit into the overall big picture.

First30 specializes in employee retention and employee onboarding. See our suite of services from our onboarding to our retention intervention programs HERE.
Planning layoffs? We also offer cost-effective (and excellent!) outplacement services. Download our outplacement brochure with pricing here.
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