How to Effectively Onboard New Hires from Afar

With many of our communities now adjusting to ‘Shelter in Place’ orders and with more likely to follow suit in the next few weeks, we as hiring managers, employers, and business owners are faced with an additional conundrum: how to onboard and train new hires remotely? The goal of this blog is to provide you with the four things you need to think about right now to navigate this transition. Whether these become enduring best practices that continue to govern how you onboard and train, or just a temporary fix, incorporating them now will allow you to maintain business continuity and momentum.

1. Leverage Your Technology Tools

You’re going to need a reliable video conferencing tool because phones alone are not going to cut it. You need to be able to share screens and content and, most importantly, engage visually with your new hire! Whether your company utilizes Zoom, Microsoft Teams, RingCentral, Google Hangouts or Skype, video conferences are your new best friend. For those who may be rusty on those platforms, create a quick “How-To Doc” for your staff to reference if they’re responsible for leading these meetings and trainings.  

You’re also going to need a secure e-signing software in place for new hires to complete their first-day paperwork (W4s, payroll setup, I-9 forms, banking info for direct deposit, etc.). DocuSign and Adobe Sign are great options. We implemented Paylocity years ago as our payroll solution; their remote onboarding platform is completely secure and seamless, and it integrates with their payroll processing back-end.  

Now is also a great time to make sure you have a cloud storage platform for team members to easily access, edit and collaborate on shared files. If you haven’t already, look into platforms such as Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive or Dropbox. And, if you’re already using a shared cloud drive, now is a good time to audit team members’ permissions and review your digital library’s organization to make sure your new hire has access to the right information and that it’s logically arranged, since they will be doing a lot of this navigating independently.  

Since leaning over to ask a co-worker a quick question is no longer an option, it’s also crucial to have an immediate way for employees (especially new ones) to get quick answers to their questions in order to feel heard and stay productive. Consider Slack or Microsoft Teams for this purpose. You can easily create a “Training” channel for your new employee that is monitored by the people responsible for training.

One final note on technology: if piecemealing access to all these platforms is proving cumbersome, consider integrating them into a single sign-on solution. We love Okta for this!

2. Consider a Virtual Coffee Date

As hiring managers and business leaders, we know that the first 30-90 days of a new employee’s experience are the most vulnerable. Onboarding in a fully remote environment only makes this period more sensitive. Consider practices you can adopt NOW to help close the cultural gap and encourage camaraderie and team building.  

Try scheduling a weekly virtual coffee date or end-of-week happy hour with your new hire. Encourage a weekly virtual team lunch where the focus is getting to know one another rather than training. On that note, consider creating a “water-cooler channel” in Slack, Teams or your internal communication tool to encourage team bonding, even if it now has to take place online instead of your local tapas bar.

3. Virtual Training Center

Now that we’ve solved how to onboard remotely and what technology platforms your new hire will need, it’s time to evaluate your training plan and materials. At Maven, we have a standard training outline for each role, complete with a content outline, clear agenda and timeframe, and deadlines and milestones for both the hiring manager and the new hire.  

Additionally, we created a virtual “Training Binder” that has all the relevant content our employees need to know in order to execute effectively in their roles. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy; ours is stored in a shared cloud drive. If you don’t yet have something like this in place, consider creating one or hiring some temporary resources to assist you with this project.  

Beyond the cloud resource center, Maven recently scaled its internal training program by leveraging Adobe Premiere and Paylocity to create virtual training videos. These training are stored and accessed in Paylocity where we can assign a training module to a new hire and track their completion. Not only does this make training new employees less cumbersome and time intensive on your current staff, it also allows for scalability, repeatability, and consistency in your trainings.  

If you haven’t done this, don’t kick yourself – it’s not too late! Now is a great time to work on these projects and avail yourself of some of the talent resources who may be unexpectedly on the market to help you get everything in place.    

4. Protect Time on the Calendar

Schedule a daily meeting on the calendar so your new hire has the opportunity to stockpile their questions and get answers – the key word here is protected.  It’s critical that your new hire feels they still have access to you and that they have not been left in the lurch at their most vulnerable moment.  

Chances are, this is a unique experience for both you and your new hire. Our advice is to be flexible, be positive, be creative and have fun with it. We’re all doing the best we can with the tools and resources we have and the rapid changes that are coming our way. Let’s remember that human connection is still achievable, even if it looks a little different for the time being.

Written by: Jessica Vann, Founder and CEO

Posted on

March 18, 2020


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