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6 Remote Onboarding Program Ideas We Love

POSTED ON 
April 8, 2020

We’re seeing more and more companies rise to the challenge of welcoming new employees from afar. I personally know three different people who started new jobs this week, all onboarding from the safety of their own homes, and I’ve been impressed to see how different organizations are tackling this new challenge.

Even under the best of circumstances, how an organization welcomes new employees can have lasting impacts on their overall experience and engagement. Now, more than ever, new hires will be carefully watching how their employers handle welcoming them to the company. 

In a traditional office, employees report greater job satisfaction when they are personally welcomed by team members and provided with a physical space, an email address, a phone, a computer, and more. How can you achieve similar levels of satisfaction when onboarding new employees in a remote setting? Read on for 6 brilliant ideas, tips and best practices for helping employees feel engaged, welcomed and fully supported in a remote setting. 

@linkList;The Onboarding Journey:;Getting Set Up;Getting to Know the Company;Getting to Know the Team

GETTING SET UP

According to our research, most new employees feel excited about joining your company. Unfortunately, up to 25% may also feel misled by the hiring process as soon as Day One, and they’re less likely to be engaged as a result. 

#1. THE ULTIMATE PRE-DAY ONE CHECKLIST

Make sure you follow a thorough checklist of everything you need to do before an employee’s first day. ExactHire has a great checklist of pre-day one activities:

  • Share a detailed onboarding plan and training schedule with the new hire before their first day. Include links to your internal knowledge base and make resources for additional learning easy to find and searchable. 
  • Outfit new employees with the equipment they need to start work on day one, including hardware, email addresses, and anything else they need to feel included. 
  • Be sure to give new hires access to relevant communication groups, recurring calendar events. and internal online resources in time for their first day.
  • Provide instructions about a few tasks the new hire might carry out, along with a clear objective for each task. 

OUR FAVORITE TAKEAWAY? “There’s no quicker way to alienate your remote employees than to forget to add them to your monthly all-hands meeting call.” ExactHire

#2. REMOTE BUDDY PROGRAM 

Buddy programs are fantastic — remote or not. And without a formal, in-office onboarding, new hires need experienced employees to support and guide them more than ever. 

  • Schedule an introductory meeting between your new hire and their buddy to model the way the company understands that in difficult times we have to be flexible and patient.  Maybe your dog is barking in the background or you are sipping a cup of coffee. Establish a warm rapport to reassure both the buddy and the new hire that challenging times call for extra compassion. 
  • You can ensure your remote buddy partnering system is successful by pre-scheduling 15-minute check-ins for your new hire and their buddy, 2-3 times a week for their first few weeks on the job. Defined and frequent meeting times show a new hire that the buddy will be accessible and reduces the potential that they might feel they are “bothering” their buddy!

OUR FAVORITE TAKEAWAY? Harvard Business Review found that after their first week on the job, new hires with buddies were 23% more satisfied with their overall onboarding experience compared to those without buddies. This trend continued at 90 days with a 36% increase in satisfaction. 

GETTING TO KNOW THE COMPANY

Games are an engaging way to help an employee feel welcome while helping them track down the people and resources they will need along the way. Here are some that will work well in a remote environment: 

#3. ONBOARDING SCAVENGER HUNT

Pingboard has created a customizable onboarding scavenger hunt, available for download on their website. New hires are asked to “find the leader of the marketing department, find an employee who is proficient in Photoshop, or find four employees who are big football fans.”

OUR FAVORITE TAKEAWAY? This is a fun way to help employees become comfortable searching for information and reaching out to people throughout the company — a strategy that is critical to helping them get their jobs done. Try adapting their template to something that works for your organization — have new hires explore the intranet for commonly referenced resources! 

#4. GAMIFIED ONBOARDING

Deloitte, working with an impressive cross-functional team, created a game to onboard new analysts. A bit on-the-nose in today’s world, it’s got a zombie apocalypse theme, called “The Chosen Analyst.” The gamified approach enables analysts to work at their own pace, rather than forcing them into a one-size-fits-all timeline. 

OUR FAVORITE TAKEAWAY?  The design team brought in existing analysts from Deloitte’s Human Capital practice to “provide perspective on the realities of how their roles worked within the context of a project. This insight allowed the team to sequence the activities in a way that made sense and was realistic to the analyst experience, despite it being framed around a zombie apocalypse.”

GETTING TO KNOW THE TEAM

This is no time to reinvent the wheel. Think about the steps you’d take to welcome a new team member – a team happy hour, a team lunch outing, etc. – and think creatively about how you can recreate those kinds of experiences to connect people working from their individual homes.  

#5. DROP EVERYTHING AND PLAY! 

We like this game from FullStory, a digital experience analytics company. They get their remote workforce connected using DERPs: Drop-Everything-Recreational-Play.

Make it work for onboarding: On the first day- or at least during a new hire’s first week- get the direct team to join together for a light-hearted group activity. Donut has an awesome list of virtual activities and games that can happen via Zoom, or even Slack or Teams, including virtual team lunches (or happy hours) or getting teams together for a few rounds of Jackbox Games

OUR FAVORITE TAKEAWAY: Research by Harvard Business Review shows individuals with a positive mindset are 31% more productive than those with a negative mindset – or even a neutral one. It pays to play and bring positivity into the workplace!

#6. VIRTUAL OFFICE HOME TOURS

HelpScout, a fully remote help desk software company, helps team members get to know one another better while showing off their personalities and their workplaces — er, houses — with a throwback to the MTV classic show, Cribs.

Make it work for onboarding: Share previously shared videos with new team members to help them get caught up and get to know their new teams. Encourage them to create their own videos and share with their teams. 

OUR FAVORITE TAKEAWAY: 54% of employees say a strong sense of community (like say great coworkers) kept them at a company longer. 37% of employees say “working with a great team” is their primary reason for staying at a company. What better way to foster community and show your new hires how great their team is than by getting to know each other?

OUR #1 RECOMMENDATION FOR ONBOARDING DURING THE COVID-19 HEALTH CRISIS? 

Lead with humanity. Every time you check in, ask employees (all of them – not just new employees) how they are doing and what special needs they may have. Let the new hire see, in practice and words, that they have joined a company that provides extra flexibility, patience, and support in this challenging time. 

For more bite-sized brilliance, subscribe to our monthly newsletter, the Inkwell, and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter!

Additional COVID-19 resources from Brilliant Ink
Jackie Berg
HEAD OF RESEARCH & BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT

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