Online onboarding process
5 tips to onboard your new starters remotely
Why is a positive remote onboarding experience so important?
These new joiners have probably been through enormous emotional upheaval in the past few weeks – whilst experiencing the normal mix of excitement and trepidation that comes with starting a new role, they have also been faced (during Covid-19) with uncertainty about job security and a very different, remote onboarding experience.With a good on-boarding the new team member will gain knowledge and understanding, and will start to contribute. The new team member feels as if they are part of things, not just sat on the side-lines. They know ‘who is who’, start to build relationships and feel that this is a place where they can enjoy their work – they feel surer that they made the right decision to join.
These goals are the same whether you’re talking about a team that’s always located in the same office, a totally remote team, a geographically dispersed or a hybrid team. The difference is that when people aren’t working together you have to be much more proactive – you have to consciously make sure that you’re doing everything right, because you won’t be having the same mini-check-ins together as you grab a coffee, pass their desk etc.
So, here are five actions you can take to achieve these goals:
1. Get to know them
Spend time getting to know them, asking how they experience(d) their on-boarding, what they think will be more difficult because of the current working arrangements and how you can work together during this time. Be willing to share your experiences too – this is about building a strong, trusting working relationship, it’s not a second part of the interview.
2. Make introductions
Help them to build relationships with the team and the wider organisation. Set up calls to introduce them to people and involve them straight away in any team activities such as quizzes, communication calls etc. so they become part of the team. It helps to prioritise the people they need to work with most – if they meet 50 people in the first week, they probably won’t remember many of them.
3. Conduct a formal orientation
Often the first half day of an induction helps the new joiner to understand some of the fundamentals – how the email works, what the company’s overall mission and purpose is, who the key customers are, organisational structure, information on products, processes, compliance and culture. Remember to put this in the diary as an initial briefing – make it easy for the person to review the information, for example, by saving all core documents in a file that they can easily find.
4. Set up a knowledge buddy
One thing that’s difficult about changing jobs is that you don’t know how things are done. Yes, it might be written up in processes and documents, it might be covered in the formal orientation, but there’s lots of little stuff that no one thinks to tell you. Mostly we find these things out by asking other people – it’s quicker and tells you how things are really done, not how they’re meant to be done! In an office, it’s easy for the new starter to informally ask people how to book a meeting room, where the shared documents are stored, who to contact if they’ve got technology issues, how to submit expenses etc. In a more remote environment it helps to pair them up with a buddy – someone who they can go to and ask any question, no matter how basic it seems.
5. Do the management basics – really well
At the moment most managers have to manage remotely. More than ever, it's important to set clear expectations, listening to team members, checking in with them, giving them feedback and engaging them. These become even more important for new employees – helping them to make that contribution and see that they are adding value. As they start to settle in you can work with them to develop a plan of deliverables for the next few months, and make sure that they have the tools, resources and motivation to succeed.
Doing these things will help your new team member to quickly achieve that sense of belonging and be able to start making a contribution.
This moment is also perfect for looking at the current offline onboarding process. What does still