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Onboarding best practices
Successfully maximize the performance of your new remote employees by following these onboarding best practices for welcoming new hires.
When a new hire joins a firm, it can be pretty overwhelming for him/ her to get things right. Getting someone onboard is a task that requires much care and attention. We have put together a checklist to help you with onboarding new hires in a remote setting. However, just a list of points isn't enough to note the minute details and carefully work around them. To help you further, find below the onboarding best practices you should follow.
Need for and benefit of onboarding best practices
Knowing the need for following the best practices while onboarding a new employee is the first step. This report by the Boston Consulting Group shows that among the HR practices, a few are particularly pronounced. With huge improvements in revenue growth and profit margin (2.5x and 1.9x each), onboarding is the second most important HR topic to focus on, behind only recruiting right.
Top companies across the globe pay a lot of attention to their onboarding process as this has proven to give returns. Advanced and focused onboarding practices give up to 10 percent ROI. This is advantageously used by all the top companies and often ignored by smaller ones. These practices are also a good way of instilling the company culture and helping the hire understand what they need to deliver.
It is safe to assume that numbers speak for themselves. However, employee happiness is also a measure of how well your onboarding of a new hire was. And this is not an easy task to achieve. Brie, the Career Development Manager and Coach at FlexJobs shared the challenges she faced while onboarding new employees. She speaks of the buddy system that is used at FlexJobs to ease new hires into the company. As can be understood, having a buddy is a good way of getting the new hire a friend that they can talk to and rely upon.
Onboarding best practices to follow:
The following is an elaboration of the checklist and is a good set of points to follow for successful remote onboarding.
1) Get the pre-boarding right
There are a set of things that you need to get in place before the employee even starts working with the firm. In a remote setting these vary only slightly from a colocated office setting. Essentials such as offer letters, background checks, etc. remain the same. Preparation is key to any new venture. In the same way, work on getting the necessities right even before you start. You will have a start date decided based upon the recruitment process so keep things ready. Some remote work specific things are:
Work desk, laptop and wifi - if your company provides for these things, have these provisions made in good time. Let the employee try these things out and get comfortable with their working. Have backups to avoid any sort of hiccups. The start can be particularly nerve wrecking but your employees need to be at the top of their game.
Handbook - In a remote setting, communication is key and your team should be able to communicate every thing. At the same time, it is also important that this does not take time off the plate of the employees. One good way to ensure this is to have every last thing and minute detail documented in a central repository. Have the new employee read at least a few main points and chapters before joining.
Agenda - You should be clear on how much you want the employee to achieve by when. If yours is a growing small company, then keep an estimate of what is to be achieved. Plan the onboarding over days, weeks or months in line with this. Do not overwhelm the new hire, but make them know how much is expected of them and have them go through the company's work and progress charts even before they start.
2) The first day is important. Focus on it
This is the day when the employee meets the team at large. He/ she also gets to know a bit about the working of the firm solely from observation. In your onboarding best practices, have it as a starred point to make this day amazing. Companies across the world employ all sorts of methods for this. Giving welcome kits, having team lunches, an interactive session, etc. In a remote setting, having all of these is not easy and sometimes, not possible. Your team could be distributed across the globe and there might never be a good time to interact with someone. There are some things that you could do in a remote team, though. These are:
Introduce: Your remote team should know that a new member is going to be joining. And they should be ready to welcome them. Ideally, a video session should work well as an icebreaker. However, this can be accomplished over Slack groups, too.
Cover the main topics, in brief: Do not go too much in depth on the very first day, but have various members of your team talk to the new hires about the things relevant to them. Keep these sessions simple and light. Since the employee has already gone through the handbook, it should be fairly easy to understand.
Review: Have a mini review session with the new employees. Understand where they feel that the things could have been better right from the first day. If something comes across as striking, put it to play right away.
3) Follow it up with an amazing first week
The first day is in itself not enough to instill in your hires the company culture and the way of working. It is a good foundation, but you need to follow it up with an amazing first week. Try to get the new person to know as much as they can about the company so they will be able to start work in a complete manner soon. Do this through small exercises and reviews, by setting daily agendas and how much is to be done per day. As a part of the onboarding best practices of your company, the team should pitch in when necessary to get a new person ready for the job.
Mentor: Assign a buddy/ mentor who will be the POC for the new hire. This person will be the main coach to the new hire and will clear doubts that arise. Do this pairing up with someone who is in the same task as the employee or in a completely different group to make the employee more comfortable with the team. Either works well.
Exercises: Give the new employee a fair share of exposure to all the things that are undertaken in the company. Do this through mini exercises after giving them a brief of it. This could also help you gauge the other areas where this person could shine based on the first week's performance.
Targets: Have a set of things that you want to get done every day and make this clear to the employee. They should consciously work toward this. It will also get them ready for the longer run when they will have to do these things at a faster pace.
4) It doesn't end there
Onboarding is not just a one day thing, but a continuous process. Until the employee learns a task through and through and even after that. Encourage them to give suggestions on where the task can be improved and to find loopholes and solve them. This way, the firm will keep growing and you will see direct results. Not only this, when the employee starts to get more comfortable with the working he/ she will eventually be able to train someone new. This is a good way for them to refresh the things they have learnt so far in the firm.
Daily goals: Set a daily target that your employee is supposed to achieve. Not just a daily one, but a weekly and monthly one, too. Make them understand the importance of it through stats and figures. However, make sure this is an achievable target and isn't unrealistic.
Ownership: As the employee becomes more comfortable with the task assigned to him/ her, he/ she should start taking ownership of this. They should constantly work to improve the process. At the same time, provide the flexibility that is vital to the growth and change in the task. Being rigid on old methods is going to get you nowhere.
Feedback and reviews: Regular feedback and reviews sessions are a must have in the onboarding best practices. Encourage the team to give their feedback on the things they have come across. Also review them on their performance and help them to improve upon it. Do these every few months so that a good amount of time is provided to change.
5) Use new and interactive tools
During the onboarding, you should try to do the best you can to make the new hire comfortable and interested in the tools you use. You probably use a big tool stack and these have to be known depending on the task. Make this a part of your handbook and include directions on how to use it. Clear any doubts that arise. The right use of tools makes the onboarding extremely fun and productive, keep this in mind. You will need a good collection tools for every aspect of the work. Video calls, note taking, even feedback. And this can really up your onboarding game if used correctly.
In a remote setting, you can never be caught up on the tech and tools you use. Remote work is fairly new and there are constantly going to be updates and better ways of doing things. With more and more people going remote, the makers of the best tools have got to keep up. Encourage your new employee to find out new ways all the time. Explore tech repositories to see what is new and employ the good things into your routine. Be open to new tools, try and test these out. If it works, you'll have found a good tool. If not, then you know what doesn't work. Staying up to date is a win-win either way. We have listed below some tools you could use.
6) Keep updating your onboarding best practices
What works today doesn't need to work tomorrow. You should work to find new ways and improve the onboarding process little by little. Feedback from the present team act as a good marker of where there are need for changes. Take these in a positive manner and implement these. They could be changes in the process, the tools or even in the way the work is assigned. Experiment and know that there is always room for growth. You do not have to change the entire process, but if it seems like making a change will be a good idea, there is no harm in trying.
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