Surveys show that 30% of new hires leave their jobs within the first six months. Providing a great new hire experience has only become more difficult now that many companies are onboarding remote employees.
When team members leave shortly after starting, it’s stressful. It costs you money, and it means you have to repeat the hiring process when you’ve only just finished it.
On the flip side, the Brandon Hall Group found that a strong onboarding process can increase employee retention by 82%. Neither of these stats are numbers that should be ignored.
Many employees leave for one of two reasons: the company mis-sold itself, or their onboarding was terrible.
These two things can even be linked. A poor onboarding process can be a sign that a company that claimed to be forward-thinking and employee-first, really couldn’t care less about those things.
Onboarding remote employees can add an extra layer of complexity. This is especially true for older, larger, or more established companies. It requires a cultural shift, seeing technology as a friend, not the enemy.
That shift isn’t easy, but it’s crucial to attracting—and retaining—the best talent in your industry. As more and more people want to work remotely, you have to adapt to stay competitive.
Once you’ve got an effective onboarding process set up, employees will be happy to rave about you. They’ll spread the word that you’re a great employer that supports them to thrive, regardless of where they work from.
How do you get to that point, though? Especially when you’re doing it digitally?
Here are some best practices for onboarding remote employees in a way that ensures they feel included:
Make it engaging
You know what’s boring? Sitting on Zoom calls all day, listening to someone talk at you about their role, your role, or the business.
Nobody wants to hear you talk at them for their first week—or longer—at the company.
Sure, there are things they’ll need to know. But how can you deliver them in any easy-to-digest, engaging, and scalable way?
One option is to record a short video. This means you won’t need to repeat yourself over and over on multiple calls. It also means employees can listen in their own time, at their own pace, whether that’s 0.5x or 2x speed.
Then, once they’ve tuned in, you can schedule a call with them so that they can ask you any questions.
That way, they know you’re open to questions, but you’re not just showing a slideshow that they have to pay attention to when they’ve already sat through six other calls that day. Using different formats when onboarding remote employees can help you meet the needs of diverse groups of new hires.
Encourage them to ask questions
Some companies really dislike it when employees ask questions. That, or they judge them for it.
This creates a fear of judgement, can trigger those who come from troubled backgrounds, and is not conducive to a productive and healthy working environment.
When employees feel able to ask questions—any questions, even seemingly stupid ones—they’ll grow and settle into their roles much faster. They’ll also feel more comfortable suggesting out-of-the-box ideas that are different from how you usually do things because they know their coworkers won’t judge them.
And when it comes to asking questions, they won’t feel the need to waste an hour researching something alone. They’ll be able to get a faster answer without worrying about looking stupid in front of their colleagues.
Have regular check-ins
Regular check-ins show employees they’re valued, even with your busy schedule. The higher up you are, the more important it is to at least check in and engage with new recruits. This could be via group chat, a social media post, an email, or even a quick video.
Otherwise, you start to feel like a mythical god that nobody can touch.
When you really let new hires talk to you and ask questions, and you ask them how they’re doing, too, it shows them that you really do care about them and their progression within the company. You’re doing your best to help them settle in.
It’s also important for their line manager to check in with them regularly. This should be one of the first people they go to when they have any questions. The earlier that open relationship is established, the better. Open and frequent communication is crucial when onboarding remote employees.
Create a schedule
When employees receive an itinerary of what to expect during their first days/weeks, it makes the business look organized. It also shows that they respect employees’ time.
This schedule should be designed in a logical order, factoring in time for breaks and further reading. It should also allow for processing time in between each topic, and starting to help with the team’s workload.
Having a schedule like this ensures that if someone needs background or foundational knowledge before they learn about another area, they have it in advance and they’re not missing key details to help with their understanding.
Don’t bombard them
There’s bound to be a lot for them to learn, but be careful not to scare them off by throwing everything their way at once.
Everyone learns at a different pace. You may need to adapt some things for different learning styles, or answer more questions from some employees than others.
Be patient with them, and show them some compassion. That was you once, too.
Make them feel like a part of the team
There are lots of ways you can make someone feel like a bigger part of the team. Could you organize a call with them before they join, to welcome them to the team and get to know them? Could you send them a goody bag of branded merchandise?
When they join, could you post on LinkedIn, tagging your new team member? Have a quick call when they first start, before they do anything else, saying hello, answering any immediate questions, and officially welcoming them?
All these small things will add up to make them feel included. As is true throughout the employee experience, building belonging is important when onboarding remote employees.
While onboarding remote employees can be more challenging than doing so in person, that doesn’t make it impossible.
It’s all about supporting them in the same way you already support existing remote employees.
Remaining accessible, and valuing their time and energy, will show them that you’re not an employer that reluctantly allows employees to work from home. You both encourage and support it, finding the best ways to make their working lives easier from their home offices.
You understand the best practices for remote work and that’s the direction the business will continue to grow in.
An important part of onboarding remote employees is making sure they get looped quickly into company culture via your groups, programs, and events. Rather than having them dig through endless chat channels or try to get added to mailing lists they don’t know exist, connect them from day one via Workrowd.
Our one-stop shop ensures that every team member can easily get involved and personalize their experience no matter where or when they work. Drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.