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How do I effectively onboard a remote hire?

4 Minutes

Workforces are set to embrace working from home in one way or another, even when the pandemi...

Workforces are set to embrace working from home in one way or another, even when the pandemic comes to an end. This means the way we approach, attract, and retain candidates must suit a remote-first world going forward.

Candidate expectations have been thrust into the forefront of employer’s minds as businesses prepare to hire again, and the competition for talent is rife. In order to remain a competitive employer in a candidate-driven market, you must be prepared to review your current policies, infrastructure and processes to be able to effectively onboard and engage your new hires wherever they happen to be working from – and an effective remote onboarding process provides a great initial experience for your new hires. ​

Ahead of your new hire’s start date

Onboarding begins the moment your new hire accepts your offer of employment, so the period between signing the contract and starting at your organisation provides a good opportunity to get them excited about their new venture and about your organisation.

Semi-regular communication from HR and line management leading up to the start date will make your new hire feel welcome, reaffirm their decision to join, and help to decrease the chance of dropping out of the process in the event of other offers.

Use this time to let their closest colleagues know their exact start date, a bit about the role they’ll be stepping into and what their first couple of weeks will look like, and invite them to connect with your new hire on LinkedIn – organic interactions are virtually impossible in a remote process, so it’s important to prepare your team for welcoming the new starter. ​

Their first few weeks in the role

The immediate days and weeks following the new hire joining your organisation is a critical period in which to make the candidate feel welcome, included and valued. They will be assessing whether their pre-hire expectation meets the reality of the role and your business, so a structured orienteering plan is essential to providing a strong first impression.

It’s typically the time to schedule some informal meetings with their closest colleagues, meet with the leadership team and hold group sessions to provide a positive insight into the company and it’s culture, history, vision and values.

Remotely, this will involve group and one-to-one video calls, gamified or interactive group sessions and team tasks, as well as solo tasks for them to complete at their own pace. ​

Ongoing engagement of your remote team

The onboarding period doesn’t end after the first few weeks, or even months. Research suggests that an onboarding period that lasts throughout the first year of your new hire’s time at the organisation, with regular workplace health checks and ongoing training, can improve retention by up to 25%.

Regular and structured check-ins with your remote workforce are essential. Research has shown that remote employees are around 50% less likely to achieve a performance-based promotion, so recognition and reward is essential to prevent your distributed employees from feeling stagnant in their role, and criteria for progression should be clear and consistent for both your remote and in-office teams. ​ ​

The onboarding period of a new role is among the most influential of factors that contribute toward company engagement and the overall employee experience, so adapting it to suit remote work, as you likely have done with many of your other processes throughout the last 18 months, is essential.

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