How to successfully onboard your employees remotely
What is remote onboarding?
We have all been through the process of onboarding: whether you were the person starting a new position or the person training a newcomer, this experience is part of the professional life-cycle!
However, for those who are not familiar with this concept yet, let's recap: onboarding is the training process of new hires in a company. Onboarding consists of teaching both the tacit and explicit knowledge in the company - and in a specific team - to help new hires fit in their role and the company culture. Therefore, a successful onboarding favors success in the new position, which is positive both for the individual and for the company.
The recent rise of remote work compelled employees to go through remote onboarding. Starting a new job is never easy, but doing so far away from your new colleagues brings up new issues. Since a lot of knowledge is stuck in people's heads - tacit knowledge that is not written down such as values, company culture, work habits, etc.- it can be hard to share this knowledge online.
In order to make this process as seamless as possible, here are a few tips:
Onboarding can be rushed if it is not prepared in advance. In order to avoid missing addressing important information because you lack time, start the process early!
Three weeks before the starting date, send an invite to join the Drive, the Slack, and your knowledge management tool such as Spot. This way, new hires can start to have a look at what their team/company is working on.
Make onboarding a collaborative process
It is easy to get stuck in our own heads and lack perspective. In order to avoid that, engage your whole team to establish the important steps to take during the onboarding process. Aggregating multiple points of view will help cover most of the necessary learning steps for your new hires!
This is especially important to create a team-specific onboarding process (see below)
Adapt each onboarding to the job
Depending on the size of your company, you can decide to establish different levels of onboarding processes that will all add up to one another. As a start, you (or the HR team) can draw a short high-level onboarding process card on Spot made for the whole company. In this card, you can list and tag documents related to:
- Company history and culture
- Company global organizational chart
- Global financial and commercial results of the last year
Then, each team leader should collaboratively with the rest of the team draw a team-specific onboarding card regrouping:
- The specific team culture (if applicable)
- The team role inside the whole company
- The team's success and failures this last year (therefore, remember to keep it updated!)
Finally, for each new hire, make a specific job-onboarding card in close collaboration with the person leaving the job and the rest of the people closely working with her/him. This one should regroup:
- The main missions of the job and how to best perform
- The tools used for the missions and how to best master them
- The links between the position and the rest of the team / other teams in the company
- The way the job is assessed by the manager (KPI)
- Any other step deemed relevant to the onboarding process ...
Put individual development and growth at the center
Remember that individual growth should be a central element in the onboarding process: this is what will drive new hires to perform and thrive in their new position. Ultimately, employees' happiness and personal development is the first thing a manager should be seeking.
Some steps toward achieving this include:
- Establishing a sense of belonging in the company / in the team: this is strongly connected to the company culture and making sure the new hire understands and fits in the overall culture
- Periodic feedback sessions between the manager and the new hire to discuss what are the positive and negative things the new hire is experiencing, why it is happening, and how it can be fixed.
- Setting up goals that make sense both for the team and for the new hires' projects and dreams!
Create exhaustive checklists to keep the new employees and manager focused
In the team-specific onboarding process card, you should include a comprehensive checklist of all the steps the manager and the new hire have to take prior to and during the onboarding process. This will help to keep track of the onboarding steps you previously established. The list can be as followed:
- [ ] Hardware and software training
- [ ] HR Paperwork
- [ ] Communication and knowledge management tools in the company: why and how to use them
- [ ] Set-up goals and expectations for the new hires
- [ ] Set up meetings internally and with adjacent teams
- [ ] Set up feedback sessions
Plan for the next weeks/months of the onboarding process
Using the checklist above, try to structure the onboarding by steps:
- What needs to be achieved in the first week
- What needs to be achieved in the first month
- In the first three months
Don't forget to include feedback to continuously improve the process.
Things to avoid
Overdoing it: overflow of information, communication, and training in the first few days