Onboarding a Remote Employee: 5 Tips for the Perfect Virtual Welcome

The onboarding of new joiners to an organization has evolved hugely over the years and plays an important part in not only welcoming but also retaining them as employees.

According to data from the Human Capital Institute, 20% of new hires leave a job within the first 45 days after a bad onboarding experience, and so it’s clearly something that companies need to get right. And now added to this, the whole process of onboarding has been thrown something of a curve ball by the COVID-19 crisis and the overnight surge in workforces working from home. This inevitably will mean there’s going to be a far greater need for organizations to deliver onboarding virtually. But how do you do that? Is it possible to deliver the same level of welcome remotely as you would in a physical environment?

Mock up hard copy onboarding guideThe Ultimate Guide to Virtual Onboarding: Make onboarding a meaningful experience for remote employees. With templates, emails, checklists and agendas! Download now.

Here are our 5 top tips for creating the perfect virtual welcome for your new joiners…

1. Get to know them before they arrive

The welcoming of a new employee doesn’t have to wait until their first day. A thorough preboarding process will not only help you find out more about the new joiner, enabling you to prepare more effectively for their arrival, but will also act as a good icebreaker – by the time they start working they will be familiar with at least one or two of their new colleagues and also have had some insight into (and hopefully been impressed with) how you operate as an organization. A key part of this preboarding process should be a ‘Get to know you’ survey which should cover a range of topics, from their likes and dislikes to their workstation setup at home. The information you glean from the survey can help you tailor the welcome they receive and also ensure they have everything they need ahead of actually starting work. In our free Ultimate Virtual Onboarding Guide we’ve put together a survey template which will guide you through everything you need to include.

2. Have a welcome pack delivered to their door

Starting a new job is often daunting and perhaps even more so when done remotely – the sense of detachment and remoteness can seem odd at first. That’s why it’s important for the new joiner to feel at home, whilst working from home. A great way to do that is to provide a welcome pack that is delivered to their door, either before their first day or on the day itself. What you include in the pack is up to you, and of course your budget, but it could include anything from branded stationery to a water bottle, phone charger and company t-shirt. Alternatively, you could give some options for them to choose from in the preboarding survey so, whilst it won’t be a surprise, it will be something they’re looking forward to receiving – maybe a subscription to an online yoga class or some espresso pods for their coffee machine.

3. Create a first day agenda

The virtual onboarding really kicks in on the new recruit’s first day and so it’s important that you have a clear plan for not only the first day but also the first week. Most important of all, this plan should involve the whole team at various points so your new joiner has a chance to get to know everyone they’re going to be working with. In a physical setting these interactions would happen naturally - by the ubiquitous water cooler, during their lunch break or just at ad hoc occasions during the first week – but when working remotely these need to be consciously planned. Whether that’s a group video call with the whole team or in smaller breakout groups, it’s important that your new joiner meets the whole team, and vice versa.

The first day agenda should include a mix of collaborative and listening sessions, to ensure the new recruit has opportunities to contribute rather than being lectured at all day. These sessions can include company presentations, as well practical information about payroll and benefits, along with lunch (via video of course) with their line manager. For a full rundown of what to include and how to structure the day, see our first day agenda template in our free Ultimate Virtual Onboarding Guide.

4. Make their first week a collaborative experience

There’s always a lot to take in when starting a new job and when doing this remotely it’s even more important that the new recruit doesn’t feel overwhelmed or suffers from information overload. Whilst it’s important that they get up to speed on critical projects and learn about systems and processes, make sure you leave space in the first week agenda for them to absorb the content and formulate some questions. Even better if you can make it a collaborative process, enabling them to input when they’re ready for more content. Also make sure the first week has a good balance of meetings, presentations and some fun, virtual icebreaker games.

5. Make it an ongoing welcome

The perfect welcome shouldn’t just be limited to the first day or week. During their first quarter you should start to see relationships and collaborations develop with team members and your new joiner should become a fully integrated part of the team. To ensure this happens and things are continually moving in the right direction, their line manager will need to take an active role, conducting regular virtual check-ins to gain insight into how your new joiner is faring and offering support, where required. Our virtual onboarding guide contains a comprehensive list of check-in questions and a question template, to help you tailor your check-in sessions to the employee.

Ultimate Virtual Onboarding Guide

Download our free guide to virtual onboarding, packed full of tips and advice about all aspects of virtual onboarding, to help you give your new recruits the perfect welcome, virtually.

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Download your free virtual onboarding guide here.

Published June 14, 2020 / by Applaud

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