Remote Onboarding Best Practices for a Hybrid or Remote Workforce

February 8, 2022 | Shannon Shoemaker

One thing we have embraced from the past year is the technology that allows employers to offer online application processes, video interviewing, and virtual onboarding that enable fast, effective hiring. Virtual recruiting has allowed employers to move in-person processes online, like pre-employment testing, new hire and I-9 paperwork. As our return-to-work plans adapt and change, we must be able to adapt with them and set up an onboarding process that works for both in-person and remote employees — and ensures a positive and equitable experience for both.

Today’s talent economy requires forward-thinking companies to assess how they can bring remote employees into their company culture and get them up to speed so they can be productive as quickly as possible. Consider the areas in which you serve new employees as part of your onboarding and how each can be performed remotely. Additionally, you can make the experience equitable by offering remote onboarding for new hires that will work in-office or within a hybrid environment. Here are a few to evaluate:

Create accelerated access. As soon as new employees receive a job offer, they should also receive access to your company’s online onboarding portal. More organizations are using technology that not only supports online learning, but also allows them to standardize onboarding training beginning with an explanation of benefits, an introduction to the company culture, and other resources like new hire FAQs and employer guide.

Get tech to your new hires quickly. New hires would typically be assigned computers and other tools on their first day reporting to an on-site job. Remote employees will need to be supplied with all necessary technology through your IT department to the employee’s home, and this should occur before their official start date. Your onboarding team should also ensure that company-specific software and programs can be accessed and loaded remotely.

Automate “pre-boarding” tasks. Using automation for tasks like onboarding paperwork, or the forms every employee must fill out like W-9s, to not only automate the process online, but move it ahead of formal onboarding into a “pre boarding” stage. These forms can be securely set up online and triggered by touchpoints in your new employee lifecycle. For example, once your new hire accepts the offer, you can trigger sending the contract online via a program like DocuSign. Once returned, the signed contract can be the trigger to send any other forms that must be filled out by new employees. When your hires are ready for day one of work, the task of filling out paperwork will already have been completed, saving you both time during the onboarding process.

Extend the onboarding window. Historically, onboarding has been treated as a single event rather than a process: New hires are passive participants in a one- or two-day orientation. They receive information about policies and procedures, sign lots of paperwork, and connect with their supervisor. Longer onboarding programs are associated with stronger talent and business outcomes such as employee engagement, employer reputation, percentage of diverse hires, quality hires, and internal hires and promotions, according to a survey conducted by Kronos Inc., a workforce management technology provider, and the Human Capital Institute (HCI).

Use live video conference tools for scheduled sessions. The key is to set up presentations from team leaders, company stakeholders and managers during the onboarding window that encourage participation. Using live conferencing technology like Zoom, you can create an experience that feels personal, speaks to smaller groups of employees, and allows for immediate feedback and Q&A. You can have your CEO introduce your company culture to your broader new employee group, then schedule breakout sessions based on your new hire teams with their team leaders or managers.

Schedule frequent one-on-one remote meetings. Each new hire working remotely during the virtual onboarding process should have the opportunity to communicate with HR (or hiring manager) daily to discuss progress and ask questions. With the technology we have adopted during the past two years, your virtual onboarding can mirror an in-person experience when it comes to constant communication and feedback loops. It’s important to educate managers on the importance of carving out time for one-to-one meetings with direct reports.

While virtual onboarding may be a new process for most companies, many companies — especially those in the technology sector — have been doing it successfully for years. Onboarding, whether on-site or remote, is one of the most important factors in employee retention and engagement.

Cisive Exchange simplifies onboarding tasks for your employees and automates the process to maximize engagement. Its configurable dashboard and intuitive portal enable you to easily manage responsibilities and guide candidates and employees through each step of the process. Cisive’s portal enables your candidates to log in from a computer, tablet, or smartphone to easily accomplish a range of onboarding and offboarding tasks, from application to I-9 verification to online training and selection of benefits.

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