How to Onboard Remote Employees

Two remote professionals  go through their new employer's onboarding process.

Onboarding is critical to the success of your new hires—effective onboarding teaches employees what you expect of them, the details of the job, the processes and workflow of your company, and company values. Additionally, onboarding is integral to retaining new employees—60% of employees who received a structured onboarding program stayed at their jobs three years or longer. Conversely, approximately 15% of employees left their jobs because of ineffective onboarding processes.

Onboarding can pose unique challenges to remote employees, especially those working remotely for the first time.  Here are just a few ways to create a successful onboarding process for remote employees:

Use the Right Technology

Research shows that the human brain processes visual information up to 60,000 times better than blocks of text. Thus, content-heavy emails will not provide the effective onboarding process new employees desire. Create a more personal experience, giving them plenty of opportunities to ask questions and respond to feedback in real-time. You may need to conduct long video meetings or use additional technology to discuss procedures, expectations, and goals. This will help you distribute information quickly and in full detail and allow your employees to ask questions almost immediately.

Set Your Expectations from the Very Beginning

If you want your remote employees to establish schedules or be available during certain business hours, be sure your expectations are clear from the beginning. They need to know what you expect of them and what matters most to you and the company. For example, if you care little about when the work is accomplished and more about the quality, relay that information. Your employees need to know how to succeed on the job.

Provide Follow-Up After Several Days on Their Own

Don’t expect your employees to succeed immediately after onboarding training. They will likely have many questions and concerns after working on their own for a few days. Schedule a time to follow up with them. Discuss their performance, listen to any concerns, and be willing to answer questions about processes, projects, and other issues. This is also a good time to address any poor habits you notice or concerns you have before employees become too invested.

Let Employees Ease into Their Positions

It’s tempting to give employees full workloads right after onboarding training. Unfortunately, this can quickly overwhelm employees. Finding a balance between working remotely and managing home life can be challenging, and with enough pressure, employees may leave. Give them time to adjust and develop a routine. Start by assigning just a few projects, then slowly add more. This will also help them learn what you expect, and if revisions are needed by the employee, he or she won’t receive an overwhelming amount of revisions all at once.

Most importantly, offer praise and let new hires know when they are doing good work. Remote work offers flexibility, but it can also bring isolation, the need for increased self-discipline, and other unique elements. Proper training, follow-ups, and ample praise will go a long way in retaining your employees and helping them succeed.

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