How to onboard staff remotely
There’s plenty to consider when you’re bringing a new employee onboard – from meeting the team to being set up with the right tools. But what about when this whole process has to be done at a distance?

Hiring and onboarding new employees remotely comes with its own set of challenges and considerations. And when staff are working remotely, employee engagement and company culture may need extra attention, too.

With that in mind, how can companies support new employees so they can start work seamlessly and thrive in an organisation? We look at the best practices for onboarding staff and fostering engagement remotely.

What are the best-practice tactics for onboarding staff?

Recruitment agency Randstad has set up an onboarding process that makes sure staff are looked after and feel welcome. That starts even before employees officially begin working, says Paul Stewart, Associate Director, Operations at Randstad.

“It’s all about creating meaningful moments and that’s even before our employees start,” Stewart says.

Make new staff feel welcome

Managers at Randstad are given an onboarding checklist to complete before their team member starts. New employees receive a welcome email from their director before their first day, as well as a video call from their company buddy.

“From day one, we have an entire onboarding program that all our new staff attend,” Stewart says. “The program flows over the first 13 weeks of their career and involves group face-to-face virtual webinar training.”

Employees also have one-to-one check-ins with the company onboarding coaches, an online onboarding guide with interactive activities, and then finish with a two-day “business school”.

Make the most of technology

Without technology, remote working as we know it wouldn’t exist. While the technology already existed before remote work became more common for many industries, companies are now embracing tech and using every resource available as we adjust to remote work.

It’s more important than ever to help new employees feel engaged, so use a range of programs and apps to suit your business. This list of tech tools to help your team work remotely is a good place to start.

“We use Google Meets so our new employees engage with their onboarding group, colleagues and manager face-to-face virtually from the get-go,” Stewart says.

Help new employees feel included

Starting a new role can be nerve-racking for anyone, and it can be harder to break the ice if employees can’t meet each other in person. That’s where regular video chats can help staff feel comfortable and engaged, and give them that key social connection they would otherwise miss.

“As our employees are starting their journey remotely it’s really important to engage early and with the use of video technology,” Stewart says. “We’ve found that it’s best to communicate this way, and more often to start with.”

At Randstad, recruitment teams have a virtual daily start-up video call where the teams discuss business priorities. “At the end of the week they have a team Google Meet wrap-up with some fun and celebrations,” Stewart says.

Recognise achievements and foster company culture

Acknowledging employee’s achievements is essential to making staff feel valued, which fosters engagement and boosts productivity. Employee recognition is also key to building a positive workplace culture and retaining top talent. Small acts of recognition and reward can pay dividends.

Highlight each employee’s contribution at a weekly meeting, or more immediately through shared channels such as Slack. You could think about any small gifts you can send, or even food delivery vouchers for a remote lunch.

You could also set up a system specific to your industry. “At Randstad, we have an app called Meaningful Moments where colleagues can recognise each other's meaningful engagements with their clients, candidates and colleagues with points,” Stewart says.

While remote working creates physical distance that can make onboarding more challenging, lately many of us have seen first-hand how clever use of tech can unite a team. By ensuring the focus is on making your new team member feel welcome, included and part of the company culture, you’ll be setting them up for a great start despite the distance between you.

Read more: 5 ways to help your employees work well from home