Is remote onboarding possible?

John Nicklin looks at the four Cs of successful remote onboarding

The importance of onboarding shouldn’t be underestimated, with 33% of new hires quitting within the first six months. The reasons are a combination of feeling neglected, being overwhelmed, a lack of mentorship and feeling over- or under-qualified. The onboarding experience becomes even more challenging if the new hires are remote or hybrid working. With forming connections and enabling collaboration such an important part of a new hire’s employee journey, is remote onboarding even possible? 

With the right planning, effort and technology it is. However, an organisation that is onboarding from a distance can’t leave the first few days and weeks of a new recruit’s experience to chance, it must be carefully crafted to achieve the ‘four Cs’ of compliance, clarification, culture and connection.

The average onboarding programme lasts 90 days, but according to Gallup, it can take new employees 12 months to reach their full performance potential. Sadly, only 12% of employees feel their company does well at onboarding new team members, leaving 88% experiencing bland and uninspiring onboarding programmes. 

Every onboarding programme should focus on the four ‘Cs’ of compliance, clarification, culture, and connection

According to Harvard Business Review, every onboarding programme should focus on the four ‘Cs’ of compliance, clarification, culture, and connection. Compliance covers the administrative essentials of policies, processes and procedures, with clarification referencing the need to set-out clear job expectations and goals. Culture and connection are the more ‘tenuous’ elements of the onboarding process and yet are crucial to creating a great experience. New hires must be fully immersed into the company culture as soon as possible and encouraged to connect with team members so that they quickly feel appreciated, valued, inspired and included.

How can this be achieved at a distance?

Leaders must plan out a structured remote onboarding process for the first few weeks, becoming more fluid but still planned up until the six-month mark. The process must consider what remote onboarding success looks like and who needs to be involved in the induction process. Having this in mind means that you are focusing on creating a great employee experience rather than going through a compliance exercise. 

And importantly, a remote onboarding programme must be supported with the right IT infrastructure. A modern intranet is the ideal platform for onboarding new hires. In fact, it should become your ‘go to’ platform for every remote onboarding process, facilitating the four C’s.

Compliance and Clarification 
A digital welcome page on the intranet where new hires are directed can be an excellent information and support resource. The page can be grouped into easy-to-navigate areas such as ‘Company history’, ‘Working from home policies’, ‘Company benefits’, ‘Travel information’ and so on. Tasks can even be assigned to the new starters, disappearing off the page once completed, such as ‘Read the working from home policy’, ‘Complete the company quiz’ and ‘Enrol onto the online health and safety course’. When all the set tasks have been completed, the new hire’s line manager can automatically receive notification so that they can move the employee onto the next stage of the onboarding process. The welcome page can even be pre-programmed to disappear from the new starter’s home page after a certain length of time, or once all the onboarding tasks have been ticked-off. 

Some organisations even allow new hires to access a welcome page before they start so that they have an idea of what to expect from day one and can make a start on the workplace administration should they choose to (such as providing bank details for payroll).

Culture and Connection 
The intranet can play a pivotal role in strengthening the organisational culture and helping the new starter to feel a sense of belonging. Why not incorporate a video message from the CEO onto the welcome page together with personalised messages from the employee’s line manager and team members? The new hire can be directed to blogs from their peers, and invited to write one of their own, as well as invited to social networking events with their teammates.

Some companies even create specific intranet social groups for new hires so that they don’t feel alone in their onboarding journey. It’s a great way for new employees to connect with others, ask advice and start friendships.

The most advanced modern intranets will even have integrated staff recognition functionality and so this can be used regularly to congratulate the new hire on making it through a tough first week, for completing the introductory health and safety course and for other milestone onboarding achievements. Such an approach is key if new employees are to feel appreciated, noticed and supported. 

Make the beginning count!

Remote onboarding will always be more of a challenge than a face-to-face experience, however success is perfectly possible if the programme is well planned, and an agile IT platform is used to facilitate the onboarding process. By concentrating on the four ‘Cs’, while ensuring experience rather than compliance remains front of mind, new hires can enjoy a fulfilling and inspiring start to their employee journey.

John Nicklin, MD of workplace technology provider, Sorce


Training Journal

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