Starting a new job is exciting, confusing and nerve wracking. With many companies switching to remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic, many of those feelings are more intense than usual. When employees are working from home full-time, it’s especially important to have a clear and well-thought-out onboarding process to ensure that new employees are able to integrate into your team seamlessly.
An employee’s first day on the job sets the tone for the rest of their employment and ensures they’re able to be productive as soon as possible. An awful onboarding process can not only scare away great people, it can lead to unnecessary, avoidable mistakes. The first step is to be prepared and create an onboarding plan for each new employee. Below are a few ways you can help new hires settle into their role on their first day, so they can hit the ground running.
coordinate set up in advance
Make sure that new remote employees have all the resources they will need to set up at home. If you’re providing a computer, phone, desk, or other resources, make sure they’re shipped well in advance. Also, make sure the new employee set up with the right logins (email, company VPN, enterprise tools, etc.) and everything else they’ll need to get started on their first day. The last-minute scramble to obtain a login for a new employee the day they start adds stress that’s completely unnecessary for both of you, especially when working remotely is already new and stressful for many people. Do everyone a favour and have all the logistical details planned out well ahead of time. It looks professional and shows you cared enough to anticipate their arrival.
avoid an information dump
New employees are already going through a big life change their first day on the job. Making that change in the middle of COVID-19 is probably already stressful. So do everything you can to ease employees into your way of working. Often employers drop bucket loads of information on employees on their first day. They’re introduced to everyone in the office (good luck remembering all those names!) given packages of forms to fill out, and view dozens of PowerPoint slides introducing them to the company. It can be a lot for anyone to absorb. Make sure you have a solid onboarding process that spreads out information in a way that makes sense.
set up a virtual buddy system
It’s easier to become familiar with a new way of working when there’s a designated coworker available to answer questions or support. Though having new employees shadow more experienced employees may not be possible remotely, you can set up a virtual buddy system. Assign new employees an experienced colleague who they can go to with questions throughout their day, and who can walk them through key processes via video, chat or other digital means. Though having their manager show new employees the ropes is a start, it can be helpful to have someone who won’t be their boss available. No matter how approachable their manager is, it can be intimidating for new employees to pester their newly minted boss with questions. New employees want to make a good impression and show they’re capable, so they’ll often avoid asking their boss questions, even when they’re unsure.
set clear expectations
Starting a new role is stressful. Adapting to a new role and trying to figure it out remotely can be even more confusing. No matter how qualified or experienced a new employee is, every role comes with a learning curve to grasp the intricacies of a new workplace, and that goes double for doing things remotely. Provide clear insights on what’s expected, and what they can contribute to your team, especially in their first few days. What KPIs should they know about? Are there certain processes or procedures they must follow? What are the highest priority tasks on their plate? All these things are helpful for new employees to be briefed on.
have them work collaboratively
One of the best ways to help a new employee integrate into their role is to have them start with team-based projects. This is especially true when working remotely. Working independently can be tough for a new employee who isn’t familiar with your company or processes. Team projects allow new workers to get to know their colleagues, who can also provide support and guidance as the new employee settles into their role. The new employee is able to contribute their skills and knowledge without being solely responsible for the success of the project. This is a good way to introduce them acclimate to a different way of working than they may be used to.
Make it clear from day one that questions are welcome. Working remotely can be isolating. Without colleagues nearby to turn to for support, it can be intimidating to reach out to a brand new colleague to pepper them with questions. New employees are often given a lot of information to process in their first few days. They’re bound to have follow up questions or need some information clarified. Setting up an environment where questions are welcome will ensure new employees feel comfortable getting the information they need to do their job effectively.
ask for feedback
Onboarding is one of the most challenging parts of starting a new job. Doing so remotely adds an extra layer of complication. So it’s especially important to be open to changes and improving your onboarding process. Expectations and needs differ from employee to employee. No matter how much you refine your onboarding process, there’s always room for improvement. Ask new employees for feedback, or if there’s anything they’d like to see integrated into onboarding, or that they feel uncertain about. This can help you strengthen your onboarding process for the next employee.