Starting a new job can be daunting, but starting remotely comes with unique challenges. Without a shared office location, you can’t stop by someone’s desk to ask for help or learn about office culture. There’s a new team already busy with projects and deadlines, a new corporate culture, and established work procedures for learning without ever meeting your colleagues in person.
There are steps managers can take to ensure their new remote hires feel like an important part of the team from day one. It’s important to think of onboarding as a journey that includes the whole team rather than an HR exercise to be dealt with quickly so that the “real work” can begin. In a market of job seekers, employee retention is paramount. It costs 0.5 to 2 times an employee’s annual salary to recruit and onboard a replacement, and employee retention starts with an exceptional onboarding process.
With a quarter of professional jobs expected to be remote by the end of 2022, it’s clear that remote and hybrid office is here to stay. Tovuti LMS has compiled a list of tips on how companies can help new hires onboard remotely.
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Prepare technical needs before the start date
It is important that a new employee has a good first impression of the company. In a remote environment, this means that all equipment must operate seamlessly from day one. Sending laptops, monitors, and related accessories ahead of time will alleviate a first day full of technical issues or worse: feeling isolated without equipment to get the job done.
It’s also a good idea to send a hard-copy welcome package with a day one checklist, things to read (in case of technical issues), and the names and contact details of key colleagues on their team. , as well as those in HR, IT, and leadership roles. Keeping in touch between recruiting and onboarding can help new hires feel a part of the team, excited about their new role, and know who to contact if they have technical issues on day one.
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Set up a buddy system
Having a friend at work improves employee engagement and can also help with employee retention. Assigning a buddy to each new hire can help reduce anxiety and teach new team members about company culture, workflow, key people and their roles, and details of their responsibilities. . A good buddy will ensure a good first impression of the company, one where employers care about their employees and address their concerns.
Having a formal buddy system with scheduled check-ins for the first few weeks or months can help a new hire feel connected in a sometimes isolating remote workplace. Asking the new employee to evaluate the buddy system at the end of the formal mentoring cycle will help it evolve to meet the needs of future new hires.
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Host a welcome lunch
Even (or perhaps especially) if your team is entirely remote and spread across multiple time zones, it’s important to schedule time for employees to get to know each other in a casual setting. Offering new hires a company-paid team lunch delivery can help set the tone and give everyone unstructured time to chat about their interests, hobbies, or family. This will ease the first day, which can feel overwhelming and lonely for fully remote new hires.
Managers who are concerned that the natural conversation will die out can prepare conversation starters in advance to guide the team to more substantive topics than sports or television. Who knows, maybe you’ll love the team building ritual so much that it will become a mainstay once the newbies have settled in.
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Share documentation that can summarize training
Trainings should be more than a deck of slides listing a company’s mission and vision. Gallup’s Onboarding Perspective paper notes that trainings should express an organization’s culture in an immersive experience that demonstrates values in action rather than simply listing them. To organize a company’s “knowledge management” assets (all process documentation and information, training, frequently asked questions, employee resources, etc.), many companies have centralized locations in the form of an intranet site or an online learning management system. A centralized location helps employees easily find and access information. It also helps managers create interactive training sessions, announce employee successes, and provide role-playing scenarios to create memorable experiences that will help onboard and make a memorable impression for new hires.
Trainings summarizing the documentation can list the important points while also referring to immersive experiences that will undoubtedly be more engaging than watching a PowerPoint presentation. Using summary notes as a springboard for goal setting can make the onboarding experience more interactive and memorable.
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Don’t overwhelm new hires with too many meetings
It can be tempting to overload a new hire’s schedule with back-to-back trainings, meetups, and other virtual gatherings to speed up the onboarding process. While many managers view onboarding as a week-to-month process, it takes a year or more for a new hire to fully shine. The onboarding process should provide check-ins and development opportunities throughout the first year to reduce turnover and keep new hires engaged.
Spacing out meetings allows for better retention of information and reduces the risk of “Zoom fatigue”. Avoid the simple effect of urgency – do urgent but unimportant tasks first – by intentionally scheduling onboarding meetings over the course of weeks or months, while prioritizing what is really urgent and giving new hires a lot of time without a meeting for in-depth work.
This story originally appeared on Tovuti and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.