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6 Tips for Virtually Onboarding New Employees in a Remote Work Environment

Posted On04/13/2020

ContributorSheri Pepper

By Julia Davis, Executive Recruiter, Nelson

As America has become more accustomed to a life of sheltering in place, most employers and employees have pivoted and settled into their new reality of working from home. There have been challenges for sure: quickly issuing laptops to employees, setting up people on video conferencing, and adjusting how workflow is supervised. A majority of Nelson clients have smoothly transitioned to working remotely, and it’s pretty much business as usual. However, there is one striking exception: onboarding new employees in a remote work environment.

How can you onboard a new employee when everyone is working from home?

Believe it or not, many employers are bringing on new employees despite the remote work situation. For many, work hasn’t lessened or slowed down just because teams are working from home, and if a company is hiring, it’s likely there is too much work spread across too few employees, so bringing on new team members makes sense. Through our discussions with several clients and HR experts, we’ve identified 6 best practices to help clients onboard new employees, even while sheltering in place.

  1. Technology is your friend. With access to the right technology at home, employees remain productive, can connect with colleagues, and successfully get their work done. When hiring a new employee who is starting their new job from a remote location, it’s recommended that the employer ship essentials, such as a laptop, monitor, and keyboard, along with set-up instructions at least several days before the employee’s start date. An IT or Ops team member should call the new employee early on Day 1 to guide the newbie on the company’s systems and software. Some companies will allocate a budget for new employees to purchase home office items, such as an ergonomic chair, printer, or other office supplies, so they can comfortably work from home.
  2. Create a memorable first day. You might not able to take the new employee to lunch, but you can organize a festive, virtual welcome lunch or breakfast with the team.  One way to make the first day special is to send a welcome package for the new employee to open during the welcome party. You might include company SWAG, a bottle of champagne, a gift card, or comical tips from each employee on light topics, such as “How to survive working at ABC company.”  Another idea is to order breakfast or lunch and have it delivered to the new employee’s home.
  3. Schedule regular check-ins. Many employers follow the best practice of scheduling a daily check-in between the supervisor and new employee. Some companies recommend a 15-minute morning check-in along with an end-of-day check-in for the first two weeks. This gives a new employee plenty of opportunities to ask questions and get guidance to ensure they’re on the right track. It allows supervisors to address challenges or roadblocks in a timely manner.
  4. Assign a buddy. Pair the new employee with a colleague who can be the go-to person if the new person has questions or gets stuck. Knowing there’s a resource available to answer questions or provide guidance can reduce the stress associated with a new job.
  5. Create an FAQ sheet. Provide a document that has contact information and other resources the new employee might need. Ask recently hired employees to recommend information that should be included on the FAQ.
  6. Establish Week 1 goals. Clearly communicate the concrete goals you expect the employee to accomplish during Week 1. This list might include having 1:1s with key team members, gaining access to systems, setting up trainings, reading company policies, or reviewing last year’s financial statements. Having a clear to-do list allows the employee to continue being productive if they hit a roadblock on one task. A concrete set of goals also enables a supervisor to measure the employee’s progress.

Of course, implementing these tips requires some extra time and resources, and frequently, the reality is time and resources are in short supply. But if your team’s workload is daunting, and you need to hire asap, these tips should help you successfully onboard a new employee despite the remote work environment.

Nelson helps companies recruit and hire employees who will make the right impact, whether they be working from home or working on-site. If you’d like more information on how we can assist with building your teams, contact us today. We’re here to help.

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