The Do’s & Don’ts Of Welcoming New Members Remotely

Richard
Talent Attraction | Workplace

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Effectively onboarding new recruits has always been critical for any employer looking to retain talented members of staff over the long-term. The following article offers up some useful advice…

Employee turnover is not only expensive, but highly disruptive too, and according to inc.com, latest statistics show that 17.42% of employees resign within their first month as an employee.

With that being said, now that many of us are shifting our focus to working remotely, the process of onboarding new staff has become even more challenging, since communication and trust cannot be built face-to-face.

When a new hire is physically removed from the team, the most challenging aspect is to make them feel included and ensuring they are entirely comfortable and motivated to do the job you hired them to do to the best of their ability.

What to Avoid When Hiring Remote Staff

This 2017 piece from Sales Benchmark Index, highlights the top five mistakes that businesses make when bringing on new hires, these especially apply to those who are remote working:

  • A tedious first day – according to Sales Benchmark Index, over two-thirds of survey participants expressed frustration on their first day because they felt that senior members of staff were fixated on other issues and disengaged. This is a massive issue if someone is working from home and has been left to their own devices.  
  • Not having a clear plan for new hires – Employers who know precisely what they’re hiring for can pass that knowledge over to their new hires, so they can be prepared for what is expected of them in the coming months.
  • Lack of leadership and support – New members of your team will feel disengaged if they’re being passed from pillar to post when managers are too busy to give them the time they need to get them up to speed.
  • No targets or structure – New hires who can follow a predefined onboarding plan, with clear structure, targets and accountability will be able to get up to speed more quickly.
  • Organising training that is far too complicated – The best and most effective new hire training programme is that which is easy follow, and allows the employee to build on that knowledge as their confidence in the role increases. Overly complicated training will be even more difficult when there is no physical support available.

Fortunately, these mistakes are easy to sidestep so long as a thoughtful and methodical approach is followed.

It is also important to consider the type of position you are hiring for, for instance hiring a remote salesperson will represent a different challenge to say a web developer.

Prepare the Team for the New Arrival

Although your new hire won’t be working physically alongside your current team (even if you have an office, it’s likely that they won’t be meeting in person for some time due to coronavirus restrictions) you still need to make them feel as though they are an important part of the team. Creating such a dynamic must start before the new employee’s arrival.

Once you’ve decided on your new employee and have a start date planned for them, ensure that you are communicating these details with the rest of the team. Give them a little background on their new colleague, tell them what role they are coming in to fill and let them know precisely when they’ll be starting.

Choose a current member of the team to mentor the new hire, so this person has someone they can turn to to ask questions in those first few weeks.

Remind everyone to make themselves available to the new hire to ensure they have a support system in place during their first days and weeks in the job.

Clearly Outline Company Culture

An increasingly popular method for companies, that can be especially useful for onboarding a remote worker is the “100-Day Plan”. Which clearly outlines the company culture and vision, what you expect from the new starter, what milestones could be achieved and, most importantly, what they think is possible within the first 100-days.

While it’s not necessary to create a plan as long as 100-days, having some kind of structure backed up by documents that they can continue to refer back to, is really helpful for those that are working in a remote setting.

For your business, this might mean a 30, 60 or 90-day plan for your employee. However you choose to approach this, mapping out what each new employee can expect in their first few months on the job, gives them a clear idea of what to expect from the business and how to work with their new colleagues.

Introduce Your New Hire to The Team

As per a report by HubSpot in 2019, 35% of remote workers reported experiencing feelings of isolation and loneliness at least two or three times a week. 2020 has been a year where all of us have had to adjust to new norms, and these feelings could be amplified for those just starting with a new company.

One great way of supporting your new employee is to set up introduction meetings with each of the current staff members. These meetings don’t have to continue for the long-term, but during the first few weeks, video meetings can be helpful for your new employee to put faces to names, learn about function of their colleagues within the business and generally feel more connected to how your organisation operates.

Schedule Regular One-to-Ones

As your new hire is getting used to their new roles, be sure to make time to regularly chat with them to keep up regular communication and offer support and guidance where needed. Just in the same way that you would in an office environment.

For employees who are settling into their role, it can be helpful to set out an agenda for each conversation to ensure that there is a platform for your new recruit to talk about any concerns or problems they might be facing.

You can also use these meetings to keep regular progress of the onboarding plan we outlined earlier, to ensure that all targets are being met, and offering a safe space to provide further training if you feel it’s necessary.

Essentially, these conversations are the start of the journey towards building trust and respect remotely.

Outline Clearly What You Expect

Outlining exactly what you need from every team member is essential, but it is especially crucial when you’re hiring someone that will be working remotely. While some will thrive with the opportunity to work independently, some may need that bit more guidance to be successful.

Setting crystal clear expectations around what you expect of your new hire and what they should be taking accountability for is crucial. This can be as simple as stating what the key functions and deliverables will be, ensuring they are present for meetings that require their skill set and sharing any working norms that have developed within the current team.

For example, if a member of your team has booked annual leave, ensure that your new hire is aware of the processes. Perhaps, annual leave can only be granted with 5-days’ notice and must be added to the shared team calendar once approved. These are the things that must be communicated, to ensure your hire can fit in quickly.

Practice Over-Communication

While we’re all being asked to work from home where possible, regular communication is absolutely vital. Any employee that has been hired remotely will undoubtedly benefit from the practice of “over-communication”.

Of course, when we say over-communication, it doesn’t mean oversharing and talking for the sake of it. Instead, over-communicating can mean providing updates on projects even before they’ve been asked about, keeping lack or instant messaging software open to respond quickly to queries and using an email receipt, to confirm to the sender that emails have been received.

Fundamentally, you can’t depend on in-person communication or body language to guarantee understanding, so maintaining an ongoing channel of communication (especially with new employees who are getting familiarised with their new job) creates a more constructive work experience for everyone.

Takeaway

Onboarding new people is a big undertaking at the best of times, but doing so remotely during a global pandemic does present a fair few challenges that many of us have never had to tackle before. However, if you can get it right, the return on investment for correctly training new remote employees is well worth the effort in the end – Anna Morrish, Director of Quibble.Digital

If you have a specific question or need additional hiring or onboarding advice, reach out to the Guru team.