Remote work poses new challenges for a great employee onboarding experience. This is how to do it right.
Welcoming a new hire to your organisation is always a challenge, even with the most structured approach, skilled HR professionals and well-established processes. To make matters worse, remote work adds a new level of complexity to an already demanding task. This is, however, a crucial effort that can permanently define how employees view the company and influences how committed and ultimately how productive they become. Still, many companies rely on legacy onboarding processes, stemming from a pre-pandemic era where virtual onboarding applied to only a fraction of employees. As a result, nearly one-third of employees find the onboarding experience confusing — with this figure rising to 36% for remote workers, who are most likely to feel undertrained, disoriented, and devalued after onboarding, compared to on-site or hybrid workers.
These days, almost half of all new hires go through some sort of remote onboarding, either completely remote or a hybrid version between digital and in-person onboarding, prompting HR managers to rethink “business as usual”. So, what are the best practices and pitfalls of remote onboarding?
What is employee onboarding?
In short, employee onboarding is the process of familiarising a new hire with the organisation, its people and how its processes. However, if we really look into it, employee onboarding is a bit more than that: new hires need to understand the culture of the company they just joined and a well-structured welcome process helps them feel comfortable and confident in their new roles. It is what sets up your new employees for success.
Given the several benefits of a successful employee onboarding program, statistics proving it works should not come as a shock. Studies show how onboarding processes shorten learning curves, allowing new hires to achieve high levels of productivity. It also increases employee retention by up to 80%. Also, new employees with a good onboarding experience are 18x more committed to their employer.
Poor employee onboarding, on the other hand, means most people do not stick around for long, increasing employee turnover. In fact, new hires are twice more likely to look out for other jobs after a negative onboarding experience. Pair this with the fact that the cost of replacing an employee, for a company is on average 6 to 9 months of pay, and it is easy to see why onboarding is such a critical process.
There are of course many different approaches to employee onboarding, and while you do not need to follow a strict routine or programme, there are certain best practices that should be considered for the process to yield results.
What does employee onboarding entail?
So what should you include in your onboarding checklist? No matter what type of company or sector, there are always three big boxes to tick.
The point of cultural onboarding is, just like the name suggests, to communicate the company culture to your new employee, share the vision and core values, and work ethics. In other words, help them get comfortable in the company environment and what the company is all about. It may sound obvious, but a staggering 52% of employees don’t have a clear understanding of what their company is trying to do and why; they don’t understand the company vision — and just 1 in every 4 actually believes it.
With operational onboarding, the goal is to provide a clear picture of what is expected of the people at the company, especially the hire in question. It should answer questions such as what their responsibilities and tasks are and what the definition of success is. This step is crucial to facilitate communication with managers and co-workers but also to provide all the physical tools and equipment the employee will need to become operational and autonomous.
The administrative part of employee onboarding, which is admittedly one of the most important but oftentimes overlooked steps, is all about rules, guides, and policies. This includes helping your hire through the bureaucratic processes that come with employment, such as social security, insurance, time off, payroll, expensing, security, legal and compliance. This aspect also includes the paperwork that needs to be done before your employee’s first day on the job, such as setting up accounts and logins.
Imagine you are onboarding an employee in Portugal, do you know what are the mandatory employee benefits in the country?
How to create a great remote employee onboarding process
To create a great process and guarantee a swift, clear remote employee onboarding, you will need to think about all three aspects above: cultural, operational and administrative. Take a look at a checklist we put together with the fundamental tasks for successful employee onboarding:
- Get all of the documents the new hire has to fill out ready (tax-related documentation, contracts, agreements, payroll information, benefits, insurance, and other new employee forms).
- Make sure your new employee knows the core values of your company and if possible, provide examples of how they are applied on a daily basis.
- Communicate properly and clearly what your company mission and culture are. You may want to create a digital employee handbook for future reference.
- Ensure there is a point of contact and/or a FAQ regarding common and often uncomfortable questions such as pay, payday, tax deductions, etc.
- Make sure the new employee has access to the relevant equipment (laptops, computers, mouse and keyboards, headset, etc.) whether company-provided or otherwise.
- Provide the relevant digital tools (company email, group messaging tools, video conference software, project management apps, etc).
- Make sure the new employee has specific training where applicable: file-sharing applications, cloud backup software, cyber security, anti-virus software, password management and protection, data encryption, and more if relevant)
- Give them a thorough description of their job and what is expected of them.
- Provide a definition of success and define long and short-term goals.
- Set up meetings with teammates, co-workers, managers, people they report to, and key personnel in departments they may work closely with.
- Schedule periodic check-in meetings or calls with a mentor, for example after the first week and month, or even after every week for the first one or two months at the job.
- Make sure there is an open line of communication between new hires and mentors, managers, co-workers, teams, etc.
- Avoid the employee misclassification trap by clarifying the legal relationship between the company and the worker. Classification affects everything from what taxes the company owes to how the worker delivers services.
- Setup a place where you can meet in person to handle sensitive topics, even if business takes place in a fully remote environment
Bridge the gap in Employee onboarding with BRIDGE IN
Bridge In is an Employer of Record company based in Portugal, with extensive knowledge of Portuguese labour legislation. Aside from Employer of Record services, we provide assistance with both the recruiting and onboarding processes for organisations wishing to get settled in Portugal.
We can ease your company through the bureaucracy of launching operations in a new location, from accounting and compliance with local laws to office spaces and choosing the right team for your projects. Get in touch and let us tell you how we can help you create a great onboarding strategy from scratch.