Employee engagement: onboarding in a remote environment

Earlier in our employee engagement blog series we’ve talked about the importance of making your workforce feel valued and engaging with them regularly, but what about new members of your team?

While many of us are still unable to head into the office at least for the next few months, extending a remote welcome to a new employee can be challenging, whatever the size of your workforce. But it’s important to get employee onboarding right, not just for the wellbeing of your latest addition but for your business’s productivity and profitability.

First impressions count

Don’t wait until their first day to start onboarding a new hire – keeping in touch once they’ve accepted the job helps to build a rapport and give them a sense of belonging right from the get-go. Sending them an onboarding pack, sharing good news about recent business wins or updating them on projects that might be heading their way can help them feel more prepared so they hit the ground running when they start their new role. And if they already feel part of your workplace community – albeit virtually – it will take less time for them to find their feet and start making a difference to your bottom line.

A few friendly emails and a phone call here and there may well be enough to spread those positive vibes, or you might want to send a package of goodies if you want to make a real impact.

employee reward statements

Get new recruits excited about what to expect when working with you

Honesty is the best policy

Be truthful and transparent about what remote working looks like at your organisation. We’ve all had to adapt to a new way of working and every business has experienced its own challenges along the way – setting up equipment, getting all the relevant HR paperwork signed or adapting processes and policies – so be honest if some things take a little longer than usual.

If you can manage expectations upfront you’re more likely to build trust and gain respect from your new employee for their onboarding period and beyond.

Virtual meet and greet

Scheduling in time to ‘meet’ everyone is vital in a remote setting to help avoid feelings of isolation. There’s no chance of your new hire bumping into their colleagues at the water cooler, so it’s important that they get the opportunity to meet the other people that they’ll be working alongside, both in teams and on an individual basis. Let them know that these introductions are ‘cameras on’ to help make interpersonal connections and structure conversations so that they can quickly understand how their role fits in with the rest of the team.

Holding regular one-to-ones with their line manager will also help them understand their responsibilities and objectives sooner, as well as picking up your business’s management style. By keeping the lines of communication open, any concerns, queries or feedback can be quickly resolved.

Welcome packs

A good employee starter pack delivered direct to an employee’s home can make them feel welcome, engaging in organisational values and support their successful onboarding. Contents can be tailored to your needs, with existing branded items, brochures or documentation blended with new items to help their home desk feel suitably ready for their new role (and maybe a personalised chocolate bar to help them get through their first day and a facemask to get them through their first site visit!).

ideas for a new employee welcome pack, including branded and personalised face masks, notebook, phone stand, hand sanitiser, mugs and chocolate bar

Welcome packs make sure every new employees gets a great (and consistent) introduction.

Building skills

Giving new employees the opportunity to learn or brush up on skills relevant to their role has obvious benefits to your business’s productivity, so it’s important to build learning and development into their induction. Whether it’s a set of online modules specific to your business or in-house training from a colleague, giving new team members the skills to succeed will boost their confidence and increase their value to your business for the long term.

Virtual shadowing can also be an efficient way to find out about projects first-hand. Inviting new team members to virtual meetings will hold much more value than passing on information and helps form interpersonal relationships with both colleagues and clients.

Where to start

Ultimately, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to onboarding employees remotely because every business is different, but there’s plenty you can do to make the ride as smooth as possible.

Defining daily, weekly and monthly goals and setting out a clear plan for the onboarding process will help ensure the process is successful for both your business and your new team member, alongside the more practical side of getting them set up with all the right equipment and communication channels.

Need some support to develop a plan that’s right for your business? Contact our team to find out how we can help.