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Onboarding Employee Engagement

How to Approach Online Onboarding for Remote Employees

September 21, 2021
8 min read
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Performance Management, Supercharged


New hire onboarding has never been a simple task — there’s paperwork to fill out, equipment to set up, and an unfamiliar work environment to settle into. Ever since the massive shift to remote work, onboarding remote employees has proven to be an equally challenging task. Luckily, it’s possible to create an efficient, effective digital onboarding experience with the right tools and a best-practices approach.

The Importance Of An Online Onboarding Plan For Remote Workers

Research and advisory firm Gartner predicts that 51% of knowledge workers worldwide will be working remotely by the end of 2021. That’s a huge increase from just 27% at the end of 2019. What’s more, another Gartner survey of CFOs found that 74% plan to move some of their employees to remote work permanently.

Adopting solutions to fit remote workers is much more than just the newest trend across the talent landscape. An effective online onboarding plan for remote employees has a positive impact on employee experience, which leads to more productive, motivated employees.

@ClearCompany says that with the right approach to #remote #onboarding you can keep your new hires #engaged and #connected to your overall goals:

Increases Employee Productivity And Retention

The workforce shift means companies have access to a wider pool of candidates than ever before. It also means that remote job seekers have heightened expectations for their employee experience. Onboarding remote employees is a foundational part of their experience and a successful program can increase retention by up to 82%. Without it, up to one-third of employees quit within seven months on the job.

Great onboarding can also increase long-term productivity rates by 70%. Giving employees the strong foundation of a well-planned onboarding experience makes them feel supported from the day they sign their offer letter. It signifies that your company cares about its employees and is invested in their long-term success. Digital onboarding ensures that new remote hires have a consistent experience, setting a positive tone for company culture.

Puts Company Culture At The Forefront

Remote workers face unique challenges when it comes to understanding and becoming a contributor to company culture. It’s much more difficult to organically pick up on company culture and be part of it from a distance. Your digital onboarding plan is their first exposure to company culture, making it the key to establishing the culture you want. A digital onboarding plan allows your HR team to quickly take care of the logistics and put the focus on welcoming new hires and helping them become familiar with your company culture.

The sudden need for work-from-home strategies caught everyone by surprise in 2020 and called for some quick fixes. Now that the remote workforce endures, it’s time to take a second look at digital onboarding for remote employees to keep your strategy up-to-date. We’ve got suggestions for how to approach online onboarding for new hires and tools to help you create a successful plan.

What Makes A Successful Onboarding Plan For Remote Workers?

Launching a digital onboarding program or updating the process for remote employees can generally be considered successful if it results in a motivated, dedicated workforce. But how can you get there? Keep reading for our tips on how to set up online onboarding that works.

Set Goals

To be successful, it’s essential to define what success looks like for your virtual onboarding plan. That’s where goal-setting comes in. Setting goals eliminates confusion about what constitutes a completed, successful onboarding plan.

Goals for onboarding new employees might include:

  • Completing all paperwork before their start date
  • Setting up their laptop and other equipment prior to their first day, or first thing on their first day
  • Provisioning apps and logging into work accounts for email, Slack, etc.
  • Meeting with all team members
  • Understanding and achieving 30, 60, and 90-day goals for their role
  • Providing feedback on their onboarding experience

When setting onboarding goals, don’t forget to consider what kinds of resources you’ll need to enable each goal. For example, your new hires may no longer be able to walk over to someone’s desk to help with setting up their equipment so you will need to work with IT to make sure that each laptop that ships out has the appropriate apps provisioned.

Create A Schedule

Creating a schedule is another way you can provide clarity and set expectations for new employees. An effective online onboarding schedule consists of both a short-term and a long-term schedule. A short-term digital onboarding schedule tells new hires what to expect before their first day, on their first day, and through the first week. It’s important to provide a more detailed schedule at the beginning of the process to help employees learn the ropes, connect with coworkers, and get a feel for the work environment.

A long-term digital onboarding schedule details what the employee should expect through their first weeks or months of employment. It might include timelines for completing training courses, gaining certain product knowledge, or finishing a small project. Determining an onboarding schedule keeps remote new hires on track and eases them into their new role.

Keep New Hires Engaged And Connected

When onboarding new remote employees, stay in touch with them. After the offer letter is signed, be sure to promptly follow up with the next steps in the onboarding plan. There’s no such thing as too much communication in a remote work environment.

Get Feedback

One reliable way to gauge the success of your online onboarding program? Ask employees for their opinions. Send a survey to recent remote hires to determine whether or not your company’s onboarding plan is positively affecting employee experience. Ask specific questions so you can spot pain points and make changes to your process if necessary.

With a rise in #remote work, @ClearCompany says it is crucial to have an #onboarding strategy that helps your newest employees to get off on the right foot quickly. Read more on their latest blog:

Here are some questions to ask new remote employees about their digital onboarding experience:

  • Did you receive the equipment and materials needed for your role before your first day?
  • Did you experience any technical issues?
  • Were the goals and expectations for your role made clear to you?
  • What was the most beneficial part of the onboarding process?
  • Did the onboarding process help you feel welcome?
  • Did you find any part of the onboarding process to be unnecessary or too difficult?

ClearCompany’s Approach To Online Onboarding

At ClearCompany, we’re no strangers to onboarding remote employees. Since the pandemic began, over 100 new ClearCompany employees have experienced a completely online onboarding process. Our goal is to provide a virtual-first environment while maintaining as many opportunities for team-building and collaboration as possible. In other words, we’ve worked hard not to lose the benefit that we feel comes from spur-of-the-moment coffee runs or kitchen run-ins. Here’s how we engage and set new hires up for success from the start:

    1. Send a welcome pack. We include company swag, a handwritten welcome note, and supplies needed for their role, but just a card goes a long way to making someone feel welcome.
    2. Ship the new hire’s equipment earlier than you think you need to, including laptop, monitor, keyboard, and mouse to arrive before their start date with ample communication about when to expect it.
    3. Provide detailed instructions and support contacts for completing paperwork and equipment setup prior to their start date.
    4. Managers should set up a one-on-one video meeting as early in their day as possible to welcome the new employee and kick off their new role. Otherwise, they may find themselves a bit aimless as they poke around their equipment and read emails. We often send an email to the new hire’s personal email address letting them know to expect a meeting.
    5. Introduce them to the company. Even if you weren’t doing this in an office, it is all the more important to include it now! With new people onboarding frequently, but no water cooler to catch them by, it’s easy for tenured employees and new hires alike to lose track of new additions. This doesn’t have to be a formal introduction and many onboarding softwares have features to help.
    6. Set up a Slack channel (or another communication method) for new hire classes so that they can have an immediate team environment with fellow onboarders. This can be by individual start date, month, department, or even role depending on your hiring volume and structure.
    7. Schedule a team Zoom meeting and interdepartmental one-on-one meetings to help the new team member get acquainted with employees across the company. Pay particular attention to providing opportunities for cross-departmental collaboration in those first 90 days to foster collaboration and break down silos.
    8. Pair each new hire with a mentor for their first 90 days to give them a resource outside of their manager or HR.
    9. Set up a virtual team activity, like a happy hour or virtual game night, to help new employees connect with their team. If your team feels they have done far too many of these in the past year and a half, you can host one for hiring classes and invite any tenured employees who are interested to attend.
    10. Managers provide detailed 30-, 60-, and 90-day onboarding plans to help new hires meet their goals.
    11. HR sends an online onboarding survey after 90 days, collecting feedback from new hires about their experience.

Embrace Software Solutions For Efficient Onboarding

Remote onboarding will likely never be an easy task —it’s an essential part of business strategy and greatly affects employee retention and performance. Fortunately, there are robust software solutions available to help simplify implementation, execution, and continually improve the online onboarding process.

ClearCompany’s digital employee onboarding tools are designed not only to contribute to an outstanding employee experience but also to reduce the burden on your HR teams and hiring managers. Eliminate paperwork, start the onboarding process before day one, and set remote employees up for a successful tenure at your company with ClearCompany’s Onboarding platform. Get in touch to schedule a free demo with the ClearCompany experts today.

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