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Tips for Onboarding Your Remote Employees

You’ve just hired a great remote candidate who you and your team are excited about. They check all your boxes and you can’t wait for them to start. But without putting in some serious planning, your remote employee won’t last long. Why?

Because a negative onboarding experience doubles the chances of an employee seeking out another opportunity. In fact, the first 90 days of a new hire’s career sets the tone for the rest of their time with your organization. So, while hiring new employees is an exciting time for your company, intentional and regimented onboarding is necessary to keep your employees around, especially in a remote environment.

Whether you’ve onboarded remote employees before or this is your first work-from-home-hire, we’ve got some tips to make sure your remote onboarding process keeps your employees engaged and excited about working at your company. 

Start before their first day

Let your new hires get a head start on filling out paperwork so they’re able to focus on more important tasks during their first week, such as training and forming relationships with the team. Send tax files, your employee handbook, and any other required documents digitally the week before they start their role to give them time to look them over. This isn’t just a tactic for remote employees, either — according to our 2021 State of Hiring report, 61% of nearly 5,000 respondents said they were able to complete onboarding materials digitally before their first day.

In addition to new hire paperwork, you can also send some interesting reads from your company blog, resources that might be helpful, or a letter from your CEO welcoming them. This will help bridge the communication gap between their offer letter and first day on the job so they show up just as excited as they were when they accepted the role.

Set them up for success

Employees in an office typically have a computer, chair, and desk waiting for them on their first day. Replicate that experience for your remote employees by setting a budget for workers to spend on their home office. You can consider including internet, phone service, and other amenities in this budget depending on their role and your company policy.

And make sure their computer and any other day-one necessities arrive and are set up before their first day. That way, they can focus on their new role without having to scramble to get online. 

Make their first day memorable

Even though your remote employees aren’t going to experience meeting you and your team in-person on their first day, it’s still easy — and necessary — to make it a memorable day. Roll out the virtual red carpet and make sure they feel welcomed and become immersed in your company’s culture. Here are a few ideas of ways to do this: 

  • Send them company swag like a branded t-shirt and water bottle
  • Create a video of your team welcoming them
  • Send an email with information about each team member, like their favorite spot to eat or their favorite TV show 
  • Host an all-team meeting where you play a game or ask icebreaker questions
  • Send them an UberEats/DoorDash voucher for their lunch
  • Introduce them in your all-company meeting or in a company-wide email
  • Assign them a remote mentor to help them get familiar with the company and how to manage remote work

Each of these gestures will mean a lot to your new employee and will make their transition into your organization all the more exciting. 

Provide necessary resources

Having a document that lists everything they’ll need, like logins, company org charts, and links to important documents and sites, will help your new employee immensely. Put everything that pertains to their role into a Google or Word document, and add to it as you go. You can replicate this for your new hires in the future, or create a database that houses all your information on the world wide web so any employee can access it at any time. 

Schedule frequent meetings and check-ins

Add meetings to your employee’s calendar so they can get a feel for what their first few weeks will look like. Invite them to recurring team meetings, as well as informational meetings that you think might help get them up to speed. Set up presentations with team leaders who can explain the ins-and-outs of your organization’s various teams. Request that your team schedule one-on-one time to get to know your new hire, and make sure managers have weekly or bi-weekly meetings scheduled to monitor growth and answer any questions. Each of these meetings will be critical to your new employee’s development and comfortability at your organization. 

Develop a 30/60/90 day plan

A 30/60/90 day plan is a great way to outline everything you expect from the employee — and everything you hope for them to learn — in their first few months on the job. This will give your employees an easy way to measure their progress, and you can discuss their development in your weekly one-on-one meetings to make sure they’re on track.

Put together their plan with them so that they can add in goals they’d like to achieve as well. That way, they’ll have a sense of ownership and accountability over their development.

Communicate without micromanaging

There’s a fine line between open communication and checking in and micromanaging, and without the camaraderie felt from being in-person, checking in too often on projects and deadlines can feel like the latter.

Make sure you balance communication using the appropriate channels, like your company Slack and email, with autonomy. Give your employees room to do their work while offering your assistance when needed. Use your weekly meetings to go over deadlines and project roadblocks, and generally check in on work if need be.

Try to encourage working hours as best you can by not emailing or sending messages late into the evening. And in cases where you do work late and send after-hours emails, make sure your employees understand they’re not expected to reply right away. Especially in these first few months, your work ethic and schedule can set a precedent, so make expectations crystal clear so that your new hires don’t feel pressure to follow suit. 

Ask for feedback

Get your employee’s perspective on how their onboarding process is going throughout their first few weeks and months. This will help you better understand where your shortcomings and successes are, and how to improve in the future for your next batch of remote hires.

You can do this anonymously through an employee survey, or during manager one-on-ones if your employee feels comfortable giving their feedback directly. And don’t forget to ask those who are running your onboarding process, too. They’ll have a good grasp on what’s working, what makes their job more manual, and what’s keeping employees engaged throughout their first months at your company. 

Onboarding is one of the most important elements of the employee lifecycle, so make sure you put thought and structure into creating a great experience. For more tips on all things remote hiring, check out our Hireology case study, where we interview our own team to find out how they effectively hire remote employees. 

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