Reinvent your Onboarding for Remote

Onboarding. Induction. Orientation. Whatever you call it, the answer to “how do I get my new starter embedded and up to speed in their new job as quickly as possible?” all comes down to creating great experiences that are reflective of your brand and culture. This is even more important now we’re all working remotely and our usual way of connecting is being disrupted. However, there has never been a more appropriate time to rethink your onboarding experience for the better.

Here are some top tips for creating a great onboarding experience that reflects your culture:

  • Start with pre-boarding so a new employee isn’t inundated with non-essential paperwork on their first day. At the very least, make sure employment documentation is complete such as contracts, payroll and new starter forms. Share an FAQ sheet that’ll put the employee at ease when it comes to those common queries. Make sure the new starter knows what to expect on their first day, including their start time.
  • Send a welcome gift or e-card from the team. I always remember how excited I felt when my new employer sent me a welcome message and gift. It served as another reminder that I made the right decision and made me feel part of the team way before I started.
  • Buddy up to help a new starter build their social network. This can be done beforehand by connecting via LinkedIn and/or through email. This not only widens the social network but provides another source to ask questions about the company. Remember to set clear expectations so your buddy and new starter know what to expect from each other and who to go to for what.
  • We’re social creatures and sense of belonging is important to us. Recreate those moments that happen organically in the office such as team introductions using existing tech. A Zoom meeting on the first day to virtually get to know the team, a virtual lunch or even a remote team activity will start team bonding and act as a great ice breaker. Make sure the employee is aware of internal communication channels and the wider business knows someone is joining the team so people can give a warm welcome over Teams, Slack etc.
  • Be tech ready by sending equipment in advance with instructions and a list of company software. If you can, provide login details to emails and relevant systems. Set up time with a friendly IT person on the first day who can make sure everything is set up for success. There’s nothing worse than spending most of your first day working on IT issues with nobody to help, especially when remote.
  • Don’t be a buzz kill. There’s so much excitement (and nerves) when joining a new company, your new starter will be keen to dive into the job, learn about the product, customers and the organisation. Do you really need to start their day off by taking them through all your policies and the consequences if they fail to comply? Show them what’s essential and the rest can be organised over the coming days and weeks. Think carefully about how those involved in onboarding are communicating information – it’ll say a lot about your culture. Don’t do it in a way that kills that buzz.
  • Onboarding is a not a sprint and you don’t need to get it all done in one day. Drip feed things through so it’s not overwhelming and allow reflection time for information to sink in. How about asking the new employee to complete some tasks or a simple assignment? This way they can self-direct the onboarding experience and start to feel like they are contributing.
  • Lastly, actively seek feedback throughout. You’ll be able to close any gaps or concerns as quickly as they arise if you ask open questions and check in regularly. Don’t be afraid to ask your new starter what would make their experience great, you can then shape onboarding around their specific needs and learning styles.

A regular debate for onboarding is agreeing who is responsible and it often gets thrown over to HR but everyone has a part to play and should be involved in creating an experience that reflects your culture. There are oodles of Onboarding tech (or HR systems that include onboarding features) to help organise your activities with reminders, such as Enboarder, BambooHR, PeopleHR. If you don’t have access to such systems, Microsoft Planner, Trello, Confluence or even Excel or Word are great ways to organise onboarding activities. And if all else fails, a trusty checklist to make sure you don’t miss anything is just as good.