As the COVID-19 pandemic drags on and stay-at-home orders remain in place across the country, many companies are operating with a fully or partially-remote workforce.
Transitioning office workers to a work-from-home setup can be a challenge, especially during such turbulent conditions. Even more so when you add new hires to the mix.
Managers and HR leaders are scrambling to rework onboarding and training processes for new hires who are joining their teams remotely. So how can you get new hires settled in and up to speed in a remote work environment?
This blog provides helpful tips and best practices for HR teams and managers as they consider onboarding employees during COVID-19.
Check off the following to-dos to streamline the onboarding process and get your new remote employees up to speed from day one.
Before your new employee even begins working, you need to lay the groundwork for their successful integration in your company and their new role.
Working remotely means employees may not have the usual access to company resources like a dedicated workspace, desk, or computer. How will you get those tools set up for them? Will you provide the equipment or reimburse the employee for their investment? What other resources or equipment do they need?
83% of new employees said they have the materials and equipment they need to perform effectively at home compared to 87% of tenured employees. To bridge this gap, communicate with your new hires to uncover what they need and what resources they might be missing. Make sure they know about the resources, benefits, or training that are already available.
As you consider their workspace needs, be sure to think about:
Plan ahead how you will get your new hire set up with the right hardware, software, and access necessary to do their job.
If you’ve never done onboarding for remote employees before, you will need to adapt your current materials and process for virtual training and access.
Convert any hard copy training manuals, contracts, employee handbooks, and policy and procedure packets into digital files (or provide virtual access to an online employee portal).
Create training videos and learning modules that employees can complete independently and track their progress. This will save managers’ time and help them identify which parts of the training the employee may need additional clarification or coaching.
When possible, keep all onboarding materials like these in one accessible location so your employees (new and old) can easily find the information they need.
In an office setting, you would normally take a new hire around the office and introduce them to the teams and leaders they’ll be working with. You might have a mentor invite them to lunch with the group, or set up a team-building activity during a break.
These interactions are still important for integrating remote employees. During the first week, set up introductory calls with leaders and teams. Plan a virtual happy hour or coffee break to help the new employee get to know their coworkers in a casual setting. Helping new hires build relationships early will establish a foundation for long-term success in your company.
Pro Tip: Provide an org chart with company teams, roles, and contact info. This will help new hires put faces and names into context.
Frequent, intentional communication throughout the new employee’s onboarding phase is crucial for building a connection to their team and the overall company, and ensuring they have the tools and information they need to be successful.
There are many ways to connect formally and informally with your new hires. Have managers block off time each week for their employees to check in—creating a virtual “open door.” Ask employees to turn on their video when conferencing to make meetings more personal and foster team connection. Hold weekly one-on-ones with new hires to check in and offer support.
Managers and HR leaders should check in regularly with new hires. Keep in mind that because remote work limits the organic interactions people have when working together in an office, more frequent check-ins may be needed than in your normal onboarding process.
Feedback is a simple but effective way to uncover your employees’ needs and how they think about their work environment and is an important part of employee training and development. Creating a strong feedback culture is especially important during uncertain times when you can’t always predict how employees will react or what they may need from week to week. Make feedback a part of your culture from day one by incorporating it into your onboarding process.
There are lots of ways to collect feedback during onboarding, including new hire surveys, one-on-one meetings, and goal and performance tracking software. Additionally, build feedback into your culture by training new hires on how to give and receive feedback, and train managers on setting goals and coaching employees (especially new hires) on how to achieve those objectives.
Get your new hires into your feedback system right away so you can customize the onboarding experience to their individual needs, learn how to improve the onboarding process for future hires, and help new employees adapt to and develop in their roles successfully.
Onboarding for remote employees during COVID-19 brings its own unique challenges. Stay ahead of the curve by preparing ahead of time and focusing on communication, feedback, and training. Give your new hires the tools and support they need with our New Employee Onboarding Checklists.