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Tips for Remote Onboarding During the Coronavirus Pandemic


COVID-19 has caused employers to make dramatic changes to their business processes and practices. Managers across the world are treading through unchartered waters as they adapt remote onboarding for new hires. Interestingly, many companies have increased their hiring to keep up with their evolving business demands. Onboarding is still as important as ever, even though virtual training will be conducted in place of in-person interaction for health and safety reasons.

According to a study published in the Academy of Management Journal, the first 90 days of one’s employment is a crucial time to build rapport with co-workers, management, and the company itself. Everyone in the organization benefits when an employer shares company goals and values with workers as they learn how to do their jobs.

Successful firms are making changes to make the onboarding process more personal. Jamen Graves, a senior partner in the organizational consulting firm Korn Ferry, shared that one of their new hires got a call from the CEO himself on his first day at the job. Graves added that this does not usually happen under normal circumstances.

Keep this in mind when creating an effective onboarding process for employees during the pandemic. Here are several tips to get you started:

If it’s possible, try to meet an employee in-person on his first day at the job.

This may not be possible for a lot of companies due to the health situation, but it’s worth the effort. If the company and the new employee are within an area where lockdown measures are not so stringent, and people can come to work if needed, it’s possible to set up a physical welcome in the office.

Make sure to have the equipment, training materials, and software for product onboarding ready for the orientation. Most importantly, follow the safety guidelines in your area, such as social distancing and mask-wearing, while within the premises. This is one situation in which it’s perfectly excusable not to shake hands.

Set clear expectations.

Many employers commit the common mistake of not setting crystal-clear expectations during the onboarding process. Now that the process needs to be done remotely and you are not physically present to monitor the performance of employees, setting expectations has become even more important. Essential topics that should be discussed include company values, team objectives, and the employee’s responsibilities.

Give the right amount of training.

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Remote training for new hires is not exactly the ideal route for both managers and employees, but it’s the only recourse for the meantime. This is why you should be careful not to overwhelm your new hire with too much training.

Prioritize the skills the employees need to fulfill their responsibilities and train them accordingly. It’s not good to have them absorb too much information all at once, especially in a remote working set-up. For a lot of people, working from home is a stressful and frustrating situation.

Check in with the new hires every day.

As mentioned above, not all are well-equipped to thrive in a remote working set-up. For new hires, it can become an isolating experience. Calling or chatting them up just to know how they are doing will go a long way in making them feel comfortable while strengthening your working relationship as well. Give them a chance to ask questions and let them know you are ready to address whatever concerns they may have.

Assign remote mentors.

A new hire may not feel right at ease with the idea of asking questions to their superior, especially if they are still in that awkward stage of learning the ropes. In this case, assigning mentors that can help them in a more hands-on manner is advisable. It makes the new hire feel more comfortable asking questions.

In turn, the mentor will develop more pride and confidence in their job as they are trusted to training someone. The mentor can also do the daily check-ins, which will make the establishment of rapport a lot easier.

Show the company culture during orientation.

It’s trickier to acquaint new hires with the company culture when employees are unable to come to the office. Fortunately, there are still solutions to make this work. For example, you can wear company apparel when doing orientation calls. You can also make use of the right background that represents company branding every time you talk to employees via video chat. The aim is to mimic the in-person experience somehow and represent the office culture virtually.

Your onboarding program should provide you with a solid starting point that can help you communicate the company values to your new hires. An employee that has a positive onboarding experience will be instrumental later on in building a stellar reputation for their company among exceptional job-seekers.


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