Tips for Onboarding Remote Employees
An employee’s first few days at their new job are typically filled with paperwork to fill out, processes to learn, and people to meet. It’s no different for a remote employee. However, helping a new employee feel connected to a company they have never set foot in does present additional challenges to the onboarding process. Learn how to effectively onboard remote employees and set them up for a successful career.
What Is Onboarding?
The process of integrating a new employee into their role in an organization is called onboarding.
Why Is Good Onboarding Important?
A strong onboarding program can help new employees:
- Adjust to their new role quickly.
- Perform better.
- Have a more positive attitude.
- Feel more engaged.
- Be more likely to continue working at the company, reducing turnover.1
What Are the Six Cs of Onboarding?
Every onboarding program should cover the six Cs to ensure that new employees are ready to succeed.
- Compliance: This is the paperwork that every new employee must complete. In addition to having your new hire sign documents, you also want to ensure that they have access to the equipment they need to do their job, such as a phone or laptop.
- Clarification: Ensure that new employees understand what their role is and how their performance will be measured.
- Confidence: Once you’re sure your new hire understands what they should be doing, you want to make them feel confident that they will succeed in their new job. This includes giving them access to the tools and resources they’ll need to do great work.
- Connection: Connection is critical for new hires. They need to feel connected to their coworkers and their supervisor.
- Culture: What are your organization’s mission and values? What are its norms? What is its history? Telling these stories to your new employees in an engaging way gives them insight into your company’s culture.
- Check back: Your official onboarding process may conclude after a few days, but a good HR manager will continue to check in with the new employee in the weeks and months to come. Give the employee a chance to offer feedback on the onboarding process. Check in with them, formally and informally, to see how they’re doing.1
Top 10 Tips for Onboarding Remote Employees
The six Cs are perhaps even more critical for onboarding remote employees than on-site employees. But with a little creativity, you can help new hires feel connected to your organization, even if they never step foot inside your building. These top 10 tips for onboarding remote employees can help.
- Implement preboarding. After a new employee has accepted the employment offer, get them started early. In your preboarding process, get the new remote employee the technology they need to begin work, let them know how to access the benefits portal and other resources they may need, and set their expectations for their first week.
- Do a tech check. If a remote employee is unable to access the files and systems they need, they’re not going to be productive and they’re certainly not going to feel connected. Prior to their first day, have IT ensure the new hire’s computer is working and they are able to reach the resources they need.
- Help remote employees set up their work space. If your company has the budget for it, reimburse your new employee for their home office furniture or supplies. If that’s outside of your organization’s budget, send the remote employee branded office supplies, like pens and notebooks.
- Welcome new remote employees. Make remote employees feel like part of the team from day one. Welcome them with a LinkedIn post. Send them company swag on their start day. Have the CEO send a text congratulating the new hire on their first day. These moments of personal recognition will make new employees feel welcome, no matter where they work.
- Set expectations. When you’re covering the clarification portion of onboarding, be sure to address questions unique to remote employees: What communication channel is preferred—email, Slack, Teams, or something else? Does the employee need to be online and available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily—and if so, in what time zone? When attending virtual meetings, must their camera be on?
- Consider creating a cohort. If possible, onboard multiple new employees at the same time. This cohort will bond naturally through the onboarding process. Even if the new hires work for different managers, those interdepartmental friendships will help the employees feel connected to one another and to the organization.
- Develop a buddy program. Pair each new remote employee with another employee who has worked at the company for a while, who is knowledgeable, and who will help the new hire feel excited about working for the company. The buddy will serve as a go-to person who can answer questions about the company culture and other questions that the new employee might be reluctant to ask a supervisor or team member.
- Foster connections. Even a remote team can enjoy lunch together. Consider sending all team members a gift card to a food delivery service like DoorDash or Grubhub and inviting everyone to dine at the same time over Zoom. If time zone differences make full team meetings difficult, have current employees record video messages for one another to enable everyone to get to know each other.
- Check in. The hiring manager and a member of the human resources team should check in with new remote employees regularly. Regular 15-minute check-in calls without an agenda provide the opportunity for remote employees to ask questions or just get to know their boss or the HR manager better.
- Make it fun. Never underestimate the importance of fun! Playing trivia or other team games can give employees a sense of camaraderie. Asking employees to share their pet pictures can connect animal lovers. Games like “two truths and a lie” offer teams a fun way to get to know one another. A book club allows readers to bond. Find out what your team members like to do and you’ll discover new ways to connect employees, no matter where in the world they may be.
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