Business Management / Human Resources

How to onboard remote employees

Max Woolf

Updated: Dec 11, 2023 · 5 min read

Toolkit for download in this article

onboard remote employees

While it’s true that most companies have put hiring on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic, some industries are doubling down on virtual recruiting in an effort to sustain amidst these unprecedented times.

But hiring is only half of the equation.

The other half is setting new hires up for success and ensuring you don't have to start the costly screening, hiring, and onboarding dance all over again if the new hire quits within the first 45 days of employment.

So, if you’re carrying on with increasing the headcount, below are three key steps to take to design and implement a strong virtual onboarding process.

Put together an onboarding roadmap

First impressions matter.

Employee onboarding is the foundation of new hires' experience, capacity, and belonging. Fail to provide a smooth onboarding experience for your new remote employees, and you'll miss the chance to crank up recruits’ performance by 11%.

To successfully onboard new employees, it's critical to design a kick-off plan for the upcoming 90 days (ideal onboarding timeframe.) Its primary purpose is to get new people acquainted with everything they need to get started as quickly as possible, so they can start contributing as early as possible.

Here are six core questions to guide you when creating an onboarding roadmap:

  1. How will a new person’s upcoming 90 days look on a day-to-day basis?
  2. Who will be responsible for the equipment delivery and setup?
  3. Who will the recruit meet and what topics will they discuss? For example, policies, your company culture, core values, vision, mission, how your business operates.
  4. Who will do a deep-dive role and responsibilities discussion that explains the purpose behind the new person's work?
  5. Who will provide thorough on-the-job training?
  6. How will you help the new hire build relationships and connect with peers?

While it might seem that crafting an employee onboarding roadmap is easy at first, it requires coordinated effort from various people in your organization. That’s why it’s a good idea to use collaboration tools like Trello or Jira.

What’s great about Trello is that it gives new hires a bird's-eye view on the upcoming day/week/month and ensures nothing falls through the cracks. On top of that, Trello lets you create tasks to complete—and move them to "Done,", so everyone is on the same page—tag other employees, list helpful guides, links, documents, or contact information of the people new hires might need help from.

Keep in mind that you don’t want newcomers to sweat too much during their first week or two. Instead, have them rip through a resource library, training documents, or policies, as well as default to filling new hires’ calendars to prevent them from growing overwhelmed.

Educate line managers on the importance of 1:1s

According to a recent study, 72% of new employees say that the most critical thing during onboarding is 1:1 time with their direct manager. That makes sense because recruits need lots of attention and support to effectively pick up soft skills and hard skills, and get up to speed in a heartbeat.

Make a point to educate your line managers on the importance of blocking out time for 1:1s with direct reports as well as ensure managers are accessible and involved with the onboarding experience. It'll not only help those in managerial roles keep their fingers on the pulse, but they'll also be able to clear potential roadblocks and thus grasp the nettle before it grows.

Generally, when it comes to one-on-one meetings, you may want line managers to:

  1. Check in with the new hire every day during the first two weeks for 10-15 minutes each day.
  2. Book a recurring 30-45 minute 1:1 meeting with the new hire each week for the entire onboarding period.

Once you show that people are your top-value asset and you’re willing to spend lots of energy to make new hires’ learning experience as smooth as possible, they’ll be more likely to reciprocate and stay for the long haul.

Take onboarding to the max

Successful onboarding is a critical component of any talent management and retention strategy. In fact, 69 percent of professionals are more likely to stay with a company for at least three years if they had a robust onboarding experience.

That's why it's essential for businesses to continually solicit feedback from recruits to pinpoint bottlenecks, and ultimately streamline onboarding processes. A good way to do it is to implement online surveys at the end of 30, 60, and 90 days of onboarding, and encourage new hires to apply radical candor in evaluating their initial experience with your organization.

Here are questions you can ask:

  1. On a scale of one to 10, how happy are you in your role so far?
  2. Does your role meet your expectations?
  3. Do you think the company has provided you with the necessary tools and resources to succeed in your new role?
  4. Are you aware of managerial expectations?
  5. Is there anything your supervisor could be doing to better support you?
  6. On a scale of one to 10, how well do you gel with your new team?
  7. Can you name one thing you didn’t particularly like about your onboarding?
  8. Which part of the onboarding process has been the most challenging/useful?
  9. Can you rate your onboarding experience so far on a scale of one to 10?

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