Let’s face it, remote onboarding is a skill HR people need to accept is now part of their role for keeps. The onboarding process is so essential to whether or not a new employee works out that you can’t keep doing it in the make-shift way the suddenness of the pandemic unleashed. Onboarding new employees remotely now needs to be strategised and refined.
To increase engagement – of new employees, co-workers and managers – you’ve got to nail virtual onboarding. So, what are some of the ways you can tangibly improve what you’re doing?
1. Make Remote Onboarding Strategic Onboarding
Onboarding should never have been just something you do just because you need to show a new employee where to sit and how to operate the photocopier. It should always have had a far more ambitious purpose: to get the new employee engaged and productive as efficiently as possible.
That needs to be your goal now and that requires a strategic approach to employee onboarding. You need to work out the goals and objectives of your onboarding process and then strategise how to meet them.
Part of this will involve highly practical steps, such as ensuring they have the needed tech before they start. But it will also involve considering how you facilitate effective working relationships when the new employee is getting to know their role within the digital space.
2. Automate What Can Be Automated
You and the new recruit are operating in the digital arena so utilise it. Onboarding new employees doesn’t need to be labour intensive if you use the tools available to you. So, armed with your onboarding objectives, consider what can be automated.
Automatic onboarding solutions include email cascades with reminders, such as to activate new accounts, training delivery, document delivery and returns, scheduling meetings with co-workers and managers, and feedback.
3. Integrate Performance From the Start
Yes, new employees always take some time to get up to speed. But successful onboarding recognises this whilst actively managing the newbie’s performance.
The early days are a fantastic opportunity to capitalise on future performance. The new employee is likely to be highly committed, focused, determined and engaged. This is the only time that you’ll be in this scenario when you’ve had to do little to facilitate that. From now on, you’ll have to work to drive engagement.
By introducing performance management from day 1, as an integral part of the workplace culture, it becomes second-nature to the new employee. They will remain engaged and aligned with your organisational goals.
Again, it is cloud-based tools that make that easy, like Bridge.
4. Get Your Own Feedback
When it comes to a remote workforce, never make assumptions. It’s all too easy for niggles to fester behind a screen and you don’t learn about them until you’ve lost that new employee who showed so much promise.
Use employee engagement surveys, and particularly use them consistently, proactively and responsively during the first few weeks and months.
5. Create Touch Points From Before Day One
A fundamental mistake with remote onboarding is to consider it starts from Day 1 of the new employee’s employment. It doesn’t. It should start from the moment you offer them the job, or even before that within interview stages, in terms of showcasing your employer brand.
Working remotely causes distance. Early onboarding steps should aim to close those distances and ensure a seamless and cohesive approach. There should be intentional touch points created through regular communication, relationship building exercises and sign-posting, leading up to Day One and then beyond.
This doesn’t mean micro-managing or removing the new employee’s autonomy to shine. It does mean making sure they are connected and fully embraced as part of the team in respect of the value they are soon to add.
Remote onboarding isn’t easy for the employer or the employee. But it is worth dedicating time, effort and defined processes to. That way, you ensure that the new employee’s confidence and place in the workplace isn’t hindered by distance and unfamiliarity. Instead, they become productive and engaged employees quickly and to their fullest potential. Successful onboarding is behind the successful employee.
Check out our 9-Step Remote Onboarding Checklist.