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Remote onboarding – a 10 step plan to successful hiring (part 2)

By James Bessant, 3rd November 2020


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Significant benefits are there to be gained from remote working including increased productivity and better employee retention levels, using the current global crisis to instigate enterprise-wide change, is a smart action to future-proof your company in an ever-changing business world.

These are the second five steps to help your team make that shift to be able to onboard new hires successfully irrespective of where they (and you) are based; thereby increasing your geographical reach to get the best people into your company.

 

 

 

 

  1. Make sure the line manager is there to support those first steps

When a new joiner comes into the business, everyone needs differing levels of engagement to ensure they move forward successfully. There’s no difference with a home-based starter; some will be happy with the standard onboarding process before cracking on, but others will want far more reassurance and guidance to help them settle.

The direct manager’s role is key to successful remote onboarding. If you don’t know how the person wants to be supported / managed, make sure this happens ASAP once the new starter is in the company.

Crucially, even if the person is experienced and knows their new role well, they are still going to have to learn systems, processes and strategies. These all vary from company to company so no new WFH employee should ever be left to work it out for themselves.

Over those first few days, their manager should have a clear strategy for communication with the new starter (phone, emails, chat etc.). This should include having blocked that first day to have no major interruptions to ensure the new employee is setup properly.

Never let someone working from home flounder not having answers to simple questions to get them up and running.

  1. Clear goal setting helps avoid having to micro-manage

When a manager is new to leading a remote team (including new joiners), the temptation can be great to micro-manage that person to help them be successful.

Trust is critical to allow a new WFH employee thrive; if the person knows you are there to lead, guide and support and will also give them the freedom to make their own choices, decisions and mistakes, then you’ll have someone who will jump through hoops to succeed for you.

Key to this is having clear goals for the new employee to achieve. A new WFH employee will inevitably be able to work in a more focused and targeted manner by having specific metrics to work toward. How far this needs to be broken down (daily, weekly, monthly etc.) is dependant on the role the person is doing.

Task / collaboration tools such as Slack, Asana, Monday, Trello and ClickUp bring significant benefits not just to a new employee working from home, but for the whole team / company.

Feedback loops are also crucial. Setup a clear process for the new joiner to follow (as well as the rest of the team as their structure is likely to be different). Whether it’s a daily team huddle by video or phone-based one-to-one’s, it’s crucial they know where and when they can feedback as their progress.

  1. Mistakes happen – think of their mental well-being

It is inevitable that a new WFH employee will have questions and may well make mistakes. This is part and parcel of the learning cycle for someone coming into a new role.

When you have the structure of your team directly around you, it is easier for you to seek out help and if mistakes are made, to rectify them.

If a mistake happens, it is crucial to work together with the new employee to support them through that situation. There is no harm in having engagement over where things went wrong but resist the urge to be too harsh – this person may well be on their own and not have the family support around them to help them over that bump in the road.

When people are suffering higher levels of anxiety due to living their life in isolation, seeing their new place of work heightening those stress levels will inevitably lead to churn and retention problems.

Build a support network; make sure everyone in the team is there to support the new colleague irrespective of them being not in the same office together. Everyone was new at some stage in the company so get the team invested in wanting to onboard their new teammate successfully.

  1. Don’t overwhelm the new WFH employee with unnecessary emails

There is a huge amount for a new WFH starter to learn who doesn’t have the luxury of their colleague’s knowledge on-tap around them.

Nothing complicates matter worse than a deluge of irrelevant and unnecessary emails taking their focus away from key tasks in the first few weeks (similarly, non-essential meetings can really cause lost focus and direction).

Gradually involve them in comms on tasks which don’t directly impact what they are working on in their first few months.

  1. Encourage rather than force your culture on to them

A journey to your LinkedIn feed will quickly show a variety of remote team-bonding activities from quizzes to afterwork drinks, office baking groups to fitness challenges.

If you’ve hired well, the person should already be a sound fit to the group they’ll be working alongside. Encourage the person to join in but don’t force it as being a mandatory from day 1.

Prioritising building solid personal relationships through consistent communication with their colleagues will lead to the new WFH joiner, naturally wanting to get involved. Hotjar provide some great ideas on creating informal team-building socialisation activities for remote staff.

UK companies have a tremendous opportunity to leverage a crisis to positively impact how they work and hire going forward. Don’t shy away and miss out on using this time to bring a new remote starter into your business as it could shift the entire structure of who and how you hire (and manage your team) in the future.

Tags: James Bessant, onboarding, remote onboarding, Coronavirus, covid-19, Recruitment

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