Onboarding supports long-term retention. That’s right, 69% of employees are more likely to stay with a company for three years if they experienced good onboarding.
But in the wake of COVID-19, the definition of good onboarding has changed.
Remote onboarding is the new reality for many organizations right now - and this concept brings with it a whole new set of onboardee questions and concerns.
Left unanswered, these questions can severely impact your new hire experience in two ways:
1 Loss of productivity. Without the right knowledge, at the right time, new hires don’t have the tools they need to effectively contribute to your organization. That’s why 49% of new hires who miss their first performance milestones have never had any formal onboarding training.
2 Engagement-driven attrition. Without the correct attention, in the right format, your new hires won’t feel valued. Doubts can begin to creep in. Did they make the right choice by joining your organization? And that’s why one-third of new hires quit within their first six months
The good news is that if you can proactively answer these questions, you will win the respect of your new hires, safeguard your recruitment investments, and strengthen your employee onboarding journey.
So let’s answer them!
What happens before I start?
Traditionally, preboarding processes are online anyway, but the impacts of forgetting to order a laptop or have a contract signed before day 1 are a little more dramatic when a new hire spends their first day at home.
Be sure to cover the following:
|1.||How do I sign my contract?|
|2.||Will I receive a work laptop/phone?|
|3.||Can I choose my own work laptop/phone?|
|4.||How will I receive my laptop/phone?|
|5.||Do I have any pre-start training to complete?|
|6.||Do I need to take a COVID test before I start?|
Answering these questions will give you (and your new hire) the confidence that their first day will be spent learning and not chasing up loose ends!
How do I set-up my home office?
Successfully working from home is something of an art form, and if you’ve never
done it before, it can be a little daunting.
Be sure to outline exactly what your organization will (and won't) contribute to, and don't forget to include some information on keeping yourself safe and healthy in your home workspace.
|7.||Do we have a remote office set-up budget?|
|8.||Can I expense office equipment?|
|9.||Does the company reimburse home internet costs?|
|10.||Where is the best place to work from in my home?|
|11.||How can I create an ergonomic workspace?|
Get these right and your newest team members’ home office will be ready to go come day 1.
What will my first day look like?
Even an experienced professional can have first-day nerves. And that only increases with the uncertainty of an entirely remote-first day.
Your onboarding programme should address the practical aspects of a remote start, so your new hires can be focused and fully present.
|12.||What time do I start?|
|13.||Do I have a first-day schedule?|
|14.||What is the remote dress code?|
|15.||How do I log into my email/slack/zoom and other systems?|
|16.||Who is my first video call with?|
|17.||What do I do if I’m having trouble dialing in?|
|18.||What are the video call rules? (ie: mandatory video, headphones vs. speakers)|
|19||Will I require any additional equipment on day 1?|
|20.||Will my team and I have lunch together online?|
|21.||Who can I call if I have any additional questions?|
These questions may seem simple but when you’re working remotely, you can’t shoulder tap a colleague for help, so clarity on the basics is important!
How does everything work?
Nearly 75% of new hires rate reviewing company policies as a top onboarding priority. So whilst it may not be the most exciting part of a new job, it’s certainly an important one.
Be sure to pre-empt questions around the practicalities, processes, and policies of your organization.
|22.||What’s the process if I’m sick?|
|23.||What’s the process if I contract Coronavirus?|
|24.||What’s the process if I come into contact with someone who has Coronavirus?|
|25.||Can I work from anywhere I want, including another country?|
|26.||What are our company benefits?|
|27.||What is our leave policy?|
|28.||Can I answer personal calls and emails while I’m working?|
|29.||Do we have a COVID-friendly travel policy?|
|30.||Can I meet with colleagues face-to-face?|
|31.||Can I meet with clients face-to-face?|
|32.||What do I do if my company phone or laptop break-down?|
|33.||How long are my breaks and can I take them whenever I want?|
A remote-friendly employee handbook – something 28% of HR folks believe needs updating – is an excellent way to communicate these things.
What does your COVID response look like?
New employees want to know the lay-of-the-land. How has your organization responded to the pandemic and what are your future plans to ensure the safety of your employees?
|34.||What health & safety policies have been developed in response to COVID-19?|
|35.||Do we have a return-to-work or reboarding strategy?|
|36.||How do you communicate COVID-19 policy updates?|
|37.||Is there any extra support for employees working with children at home?|
|38.||How does the company plan to grow in a post-COVID economy?|
Be as clear as you can here to avoid uncertainty, and be sure to update your answers when/if things change.
How do I fit into the bigger picture?
Inspiration comes from purpose – so when employees understand WHY their job matters, they’re inspired to do better. This is even more important in a remote setting when it can be hard to see how your role impacts the wider organization.
|39.||What are the company’s short and long-term goals?|
|40.||How does my job contribute to those goals?|
|41.||What are our biggest challenges in 2021?|
|42.||How does my job help meet those challenges?|
Your employee onboarding programme should tell new hires about the business’ strategic priorities and challenges, and explain how their role relates to that. This will help employees understand how they can personally contribute.
What do you expect from me?
All new hires want to have a positive impact. In a remote work environment, it’s essential to be more communicative than ever to ensure onboardees don’t lose sight of the expectations of their role or feel like they are lacking direction.
The time-to-productivity of remote onboardees is likely to be longer, so focus on answering questions that can empower them to hit the ground running.
|43.||What kind of digital training styles do you use?|
|44.||How has the company's management style developed to support remote employees?|
|45.||Will I have regular check-ins alongside my digital training?|
|46.||How is performance measured in a remote setting?|
|47.||Who can I call for help, if I’m struggling?|
|48.||Do we have a Frequently Asked Questions portal?|
|49.||Are there any unspoken objectives of my role?|
|50.||Do you have any remote-start success stories to share?|
|51.||Who can I call if I’m ready for more?|
One of your biggest remote onboarding priorities should be showing new hires that the resources for them to succeed are readily available.
Who can I talk to?
New hires need to know three key things when it comes to points of contact:
|52.||Who can I call if I have questions about my job or the company?|
|53.||Who can I call if I have a problem or something bad has happened?|
|54.||Who can I call if I have a great idea outside the scope of my role?|
When you start a new role in a traditional office setting, 100’s of micro-transactions take place every day that we call incidental communication. You learn a lot from this type of communication, particularly when it comes to who is responsible for what.
Without these incidental interactions, it can be difficult to know who to connect with.
It is important then, that your remote onboarding programme expressly outlines how new hires can escalate ideas, thoughts, questions, fears, and concerns. A mentor programme, confidential employee hotline, and anonymous suggestion portal are all good ideas here.
Will I make friends?
70% of employees consider having friends at work the most important part of a fulfilling work life.
With a remote start, it can be even more difficult than usual to foster these social connections, particularly if you have a more introverted personality.
|55.||Does the company host online get-togethers?|
|56.||I am socially anxious, what measures are in place to help people like me participate in online get-togethers?|
|57.||Will I have a remote onboarding buddy?|
|58.||How can I get to know my team better in a remote setting?|
|59.||Are there measures in place to help me get to know people outside of my team?|
|60.||Do we have any informal communication channels for sharing fun or interesting things?|
The more information you can give here, the better prepared your newest hire will be to become a social fixture within your organization.
What’s the culture like here?
It can be difficult to understand the culture of an organization when you are physically isolated, so be sure to offer a well-rounded view of the spoken AND unspoken aspects of your organizational culture.
|61.||What do some of my colleague’s home office set-ups look like?|
|62.||What did our office look like pre-COVID?|
|63.||And what will change when we eventually go back?|
|64.||Do we have any need-to-know remote work lingo?|
|65.||Are there any remote work rituals? (Friday drinks, 10 am coffee, etc)|
|66.||Do people work 9-5? Or rather set a timetable that works for them?|
|67.||How do people separate their work life from their home life?|
|68.||Is it OK if my children or other family members are in my workspace?|
|69.||What about pets?|
|70.||Will I be judged if I’m not always ‘online’?|
|71.||Are there any remote-work no-nos?|
Be honest here. If it’s not OK to have pets in a Zoom call, say so, don’t wait for new hires to test the waters and find out for themselves.
What about health and wellbeing?
The pressure is on. Right now we know that people are under a lot more external stressors, and it can be difficult to know when and if they need help. Many new hires will feel that they need to appear unbreakable during their first weeks and months at work and so won’t actively seek help.
Be sure to shed some light on what your organization is doing to support mental health in these difficult times.
|72.||How can I manage my mental health at home?|
|73.||Does the company offer access to mental health support services?|
|74.||Are there any resources available to help maintain a healthy work/life balance?|
|75.||Who can I speak to if I’m having trouble with my health and wellbeing?|
|76.||Does the company offer access to remote fitness classes?|
Leave no room for interpretation and make it clear that you encourage a healthy work/life balance and the prioritization of mental health.
How can I grow?
It’s a fact, most people are more motivated by career potential and the rewards of hard work than they are by monetary compensation. So with the future of work in such a state of flux, it's important to ensure your new hires are still excited about their career trajectory.
|77.||Have the prospects for growth and advancement changed in response to COVID-19?|
|78.||How can I advance within the company from a remote start?|
|79.||Do you provide remote professional development opportunities?|
|80.||Can I design my own professional development plan?|
|81.||Are there remote learning courses available?|
|82.||Will I receive a remote learning budget?|
Take this opportunity to reassure new hires that remote work and COVID-19 are no barrier to growth potential within your organization.
The world of work has changed, and we won’t truly know the extent of that change until the dust has settled on COVID-19.
For now, remember that the most important thing you can do to help new hires is to ease their mind.
Pre-empt their questions with clear, concise information delivered at the right time and you’re already half-way there!