Employee Benefits

Best Practices for Onboarding in a Remote Environment

By Judith Mewhort on April, 13 2021
4 minute read

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Knowing how-to effectively onboard new employees is essential. Research shows that close to 69% of employees will stay longer with a company if they had a good onboarding experience. With Covid-19 still being very much upon us, many companies are continuing to work remotely and therefore the onboarding process is primarily (or entirely) remote.

Remote onboarding poses its own challenges. New employees often have many questions and require more guidance and oversight than those who have been with the company for many years. And the virtual workplace can make it difficult to provide the leadership necessary to onboard successfully. 

So how can companies make this process as smooth as possible and overcome the challenge of remote onboarding? We outline the best practices for integrating recent hires into their new working environment so they can flourish comfortably in their new role. 


Send paperwork remotely

With a new hire comes a lot of important paperwork such as employment contracts, benefits enrollments and policy documents, bank account information for direct deposit, and paperwork related to the role the individual is stepping into such as an employee handbook. 

Working remotely allows you to provide the necessary paperwork virtually rather than handing them stacks of paperwork when they arrive at the office. A plus to this is it gives them more time to sit and consume before signing and not feel the pressure of completing it quickly in person.

For anything that requires a signature, online documentation resources like Docusign or Adobe can be used to get the appropriate documents signed and provide an audit trail. 


Develop a two week plan and checklist 

Due to offices not operating at full capacity at the moment (or some with no one in the office), it can take longer for new hires to be fully onboarded. The key to ensuring no parts of the process are skipped or forgotten is to create a detailed schedule. Ideally, it will be broken into two week chunks, include a checklist, and set aside time for review at the end of each time period. Within the schedule, list the tasks, processes and projects they will be becoming familiar with during that time. This will give your new employee a plan and structure so they don’t feel stressed, anxious, isolated, or lost. 

It is also helpful, where possible, to have a variety of experienced team members help with the new employees initial training so that they meet a number of their new co-workers early in the onboarding process.



Make them feel welcome

Working in a remote environment can be difficult for employees that are well established within an organization, so for a new hire that intensifies even more. They aren’t familiar with their co-workers and may struggle to create connections with them over Zoom calls and virtual happy hours. For that reason, it’s important to make an extra effort to ensure newly on boarded employees feel comfortable. Ultimately, this will result in them being more motivated and performing better. 

A great way to create a sense of belonging is to assign them a mentor, someone who they can go to and they can take under their wing. This team member can help them better understand the organization's culture, goals and values. The ideal mentor is someone friendly and easy to talk to, allowing the new hire to feel relaxed and comfortable asking them questions about tasks and processes during the early stages.

Start with smaller tasks 

Small wins give people confidence to take on larger tasks. By giving a new hire smaller tasks that they can easily manage, they’ll feel less overwhelmed than if they were hit with a large project right from day one. This will also give them confidence in their abilities and help them get to know the business, their co-workers, and the work environment in a low pressure way.

From a management perspective, starting a new hire with small tasks makes them familiar with multiple parts of your business. By taking this approach, your new employee understands the business and has confidence in their abilities, feeling ready to take on larger responsibilities. That’s why you want new hires to get their early wins and hit the ground running.


Provide feedback

With every process you carry out it is best to get feedback on it, with onboarding that is no different. Constructive feedback allows the new hire to know where they are succeeding and where they can make improvements.

The feedback should flow both ways. Ask the new hire what parts of the onboarding process are working for them and which aren’t. This will help you avoid going down a path that isn’t resonating with the new hire and allow you to pivot early. If you’re virtually onboarding multiple employees, It will also provide useful information about what is and isn’t working about the onboarding process at large. 


Final thoughts

It’s your responsibility as a hiring manager to ensure that new hires have everything they need to be successful. If you take steps to help them integrate with the new business, you’ll be rewarded with happier employees that are more likely to stay with you long-term. We hope the points we’ve outlined ensure some quick wins for the new hire so that they can slot into the company seamlessly even in a remote environment.

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