Remote and hybrid work opens doors for both the organization and the employee – in fact, having a diverse and distributed team can bring with it the strength and flexibility needed to gain a competitive edge in a tough employment market. Not to mention, when employees have options regarding where they work and how they work, employee engagement, performance, and wellbeing can all trend upwards.
However, get the critical first days wrong – from an onboarding process, company culture, and employee experience point of view – and all of these positives could turn to negatives, setting your new hires out on the wrong foot. With employee retention and turnover costs hanging in the balance, it’s worth making sure your remote onboarding process is the best it can be.
We’ve put together a complete remote onboarding checklist to help you deliver a top-notch employee experience — from day one and beyond.
Why a holistic onboarding strategy is critical
First impressions matter, so make them count. A seamless and well-structured onboarding experience sets the right tone for your new hire, provides a glimpse of the company culture, and equips them with the necessary tools. When done right, a great onboarding experience also supports employee retention in the long run.
Let’s review the numbers regarding onboarding.
Benefits for the employee:
- 77% of employees with a formal onboarding process hit their first performance milestone. – LinkedIn
- Well onboarded employees are 38% more effective at their jobs. – Prialto
- Employees who participate in the most extended onboarding programs (up to a year) attain full proficiency 34 times faster than their counterparts. – Atrivity
Benefits for your organization:
- 62% of companies with effective onboarding programs have a 54% increase in employee engagement. – Techjury
- A great onboarding experience ensures 69% of employees stick with a company for three years – Business News Daily
- An organization with a standard onboarding program increases new hire productivity by 70%. – Talent LMS
The case for remote onboarding:
- By 2030, the demand for remote work will increase by 30% due to Generation Z fully entering the workforce. – Gartner
- 77% of employees say they’re very likely to accept a job offer without visiting the office, while 73% are likely to accept an offer without meeting the team in person. – Hired
- 15% of HR professionals find it difficult to integrate remote workers into company culture, and 13% struggle to make remote workers feel like part of the team. – Doodle
It’s clear that a positive remote onboarding experience will pay off massively in the long run. Now that we’ve established the value of a holistic onboarding strategy, let’s look into some remote onboarding best practices to set your new remote hires up for success.
RELATED: 10 reasons why you need to rethink your onboarding strategy
Tips for onboarding remote employees
- Automate onboarding: Automating your onboarding process creates consistency, alerts new hires with notifications on time, simplifies reminders for tasks, and gives you – the HR leader – the ability to measure ROI. Using onboarding software to automate tasks and workflows frees up more time for you to focus on your new employees and their needs. More on automating onboarding below.
- Maximize preboarding: High-performing organizations make the most of the time between a new hire’s job acceptance and their first day on the job. Take this golden opportunity to get the mundane admin tasks ticked off, provide logins for access to key platforms and communications tools, welcome them with company swag, and even provide a schedule for their first day to help calm the nerves. This way, they can start day 1 feeling excited and prepared, while you can focus on giving them the best possible employee experience.
- Provide access to information: Remote employees don’t have the convenience of turning around to ask questions in the workplace or walking up to the relevant teammates for information. Make sure to provide them access to all useful resources and information so they feel supported.
- Assign a buddy: Starting a new job remotely can be daunting and alienating, especially if you miss out on candid “water cooler” moments or in-person team activities. Depending on the nature of the role, some employees may also have limited interactions with coworkers in other departments. This is where a buddy system offers a lot of value. Assigning a buddy (even better if they’re in a different team) creates a support system for your new hire — giving them someone to socialize with, ask questions, and make them feel included.
- Set goals and milestones: With up to 22% of turnover occurring within the first 45 days, one solution to combat this issue is to set goals and OKRs early. Set up early wins with short-term SMART goals over the first 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, 120 days, and so on. This provides clarity around the expectations set for them. This helps build trust and motivates them, while it gives you the chance to identify any skill gaps and discuss opportunities for growth and development.
- Monitor wellbeing and communicate frequently: Starting a new role remotely can be daunting. New employees cannot simply turn to a deskmate or walk up to a coworker to ask questions. Make sure to schedule check-ins and let them know where and how they can seek help if they need to. If any concerns arise before or after a scheduled check-in, intelliHR also allows users to submit a check-in any time they want to foster open communication and put into action psychological safety in the workplace.
- Make time for social interactions: Remote work can get lonely. Missing out on in-person events and activities restricts remote team members from countless relationship-building opportunities. However, company culture transcends the physical workspace. It’s important to be intentional about creating the time and space to foster more spontaneous interactions. Schedule weekly team social catch-ups, leave buffer times in meetings for some chit-chat, send some takeout and organize a virtual team lunch. There are so many ways to get creative.
Automate onboarding with HR software
Organizations must be agile and adaptable to survive in today’s market. More importantly, businesses that adopt technology to operate more efficiently can thrive over their competitors.
Similarly in human resources, a company that exhibits a high HR automation quotient is more likely to set its employees up for success, which will consequently affect its bottom line.
- 73% of HR’s time is spent on administrative tasks – Northeastern University
- 36% of HR professionals blame insufficient technology for their inability to automate and better organize their onboarding programs. – Northeastern University
- Companies experienced 16% better retention rates for new hires when they automated onboarding tasks. – UrbanBound
- 80% of HR professionals believe incorporating HR technology into their processes improved employee attitude toward the company. – G2
Benefits of automation with onboarding software
To best illustrate how automation with onboarding software can benefit your business, let’s take a look at MICM Real Estate.
Before implementing intelliHR, MICM Real Estate had an existing “clunky” HRIS that didn’t offer automation capabilities for workflows and processes, including onboarding. The people and culture team was also losing lots of resources to time-consuming and inefficient admin tasks, as well as double-handling of data which led to increased workloads.
Upon discovering intelliHR, MICM Real Estate was able to tee up intelliHR with other specialized software that solved their unique pain points. Their people and culture team saves up to 40% of their time thanks to streamlined onboarding workflows and processes, and eliminated double-handling of employee data.
We’ve just gone live with the contract automation through PandaDoc which has been a game-changer. Our contracts are now drawn-up automatically and our person and job records are done straight away through the API with JobAdder.
Read the full case study: Case study: MICM Real Estate.
Free remote onboarding checklist and more.
Download the free remote onboarding checklist below to help set your new remote employees up for success. Once your remote employee has been properly onboarded, it’s important that you maintain the momentum throughout the employee life cycle. Schedule regular check-ins and 1:1s, integrate them into the team, and empower them through continuous feedback and continuous performance management. Here are some additional resources to support you through the next stage of the employee life cycle:
- TOOLKIT: Managing hybrid and remote teams
- BLOG: The ultimate guide to continuous performance management
- BLOG: How to maintain a high performance culture in your hybrid workforce
- BLOG: The ultimate guide on how to measure employee engagement
- TOOLKIT: Mental health: Understanding and improving wellbeing at work
- TEMPLATE: Manager 1:1 check-in template
- GUIDE: A complete guide to employee turnover and attrition