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Design a Better Remote Onboarding Experience for Your Employees

Anne Balistreri
min read

As we change how we work, major milestones in the employee lifecycle become more challenging. This is especially true for remote employee onboarding experiences. 

Your new hires must navigate a new work culture with new norms, make relationships quickly, and begin working on projects—all with little-to-no in-person contact. It’s a big lift—and it’s disastrous if you get it wrong.

Onboarding makes a huge difference in employee retention and engagement. In fact, 69% of employees are more likely to stay with a company for three years if they have an incredible onboarding experience.

So how do we design remote onboarding that keeps employees excited about their new position while setting them up for future success? 

For Laura Del Beccaro, co-founder and CEO of Sora, it’s all about hitting four major goals:

  1. Excitement — Engage your new hire so they feel confident that they made the right decision.
  2. Introduction — Help them understand how your company works.
  3. Integration — Find meaningful ways to introduce them to the rest of the team and build social relationships.
  4. Ramp — Set them up for success in their role and equip them properly for the work ahead.

If you can identify new hire milestones that align with each of those goals in the first 30, 60, and 90 days of their contract, you’ll be well on your way to designing a better onboarding experience for everyone.

5 Best Practices for Employee Onboarding

In our recent event, Engage & Retain Employees Through Good Onboarding, Del Beccaro joined Craig Sabol, former Executive Director of People Operations & Analytics at Myovant Sciences, to discuss employee onboarding best practices for better retention, engagement, and productivity.

Here are 5 event take-aways that can help you build and scale the best onboarding experience for your distributed team:

  1. Employee engagement begins before their start date. Make your new hires feel comfortable and anticipate their questions or first-week needs.
  2. Invest in helping your new hires get to know the people in your organization—before they hit the ground running with their major projects.
  3. Scale your onboarding process in as human a way as possible. Automating tasks doesn’t mean your organization has to sound like a robot.
  4. Collaborate with your managers and department heads to ensure that your employee onboarding is consistent.
  5. Mix engaging, fun activities with compliance tasks to keep your new hires from feeling overwhelmed.

Watch the full event here for more insights about employee onboarding.

Employee Engagement Begins Before the Start Date

It’s not always easy to anticipate the biggest questions on your new hire’s mind, said Del Beccaro. 

“A lot of our employees ask what they should wear, even though we're a fully distributed company,” she shared. “I never would have thought of that. There's a lot of engagement that needs to happen before the start date.”

Sabol agreed. “I think new hires are really trying to understand the norms of the organization,” he said. “Often, you don't pick up on those norms until you start seeing how other people work.”

As long-time employees or managers, it’s easy to take these norms for granted. Tap into existing relationships your new hire has developed with recruiters or hiring managers to help them ease into their new position. 

At Sora, for example, new hires are assigned an “onboarding buddy” that serves as their primary relationship throughout the experience. Employees also get a sneak-peek of their calendars, so they can begin prepping for their first week.

Balance Fun, Work, and Relationship-Building throughout the Onboarding Process

When you’re a brand new employee, there’s a lot of paperwork to get through—and not all of it’s fun. From sexual harrassment trainings to benefits enrollment, navigating onboarding can be stressful or overwhelming.

For Sabol, that means striking a balance between compliance-related tasks and fun to-dos, like ordering company swag or recording an introductory video for a company all-hands meeting

Instead of ramping his new hires directly into work, Sabol prioritized relationship-building. “Some of our new hires will facilitate up to 60 meet-and-greets,” he said. 

“That may sound overwhelming, but we often get really good feedback,” he added. “Because when you get individuals talking one-on-one, that's when your new hire is going to pick up on, ‘Oh, what does that person do? What are some of those norms?’”

Whether you schedule a mountain of meet-and-greets or assign your new hire an onboarding buddy, helping them develop social connections is crucial to their future success. As Sabol suggested, don’t be afraid to slow down and give those relationships time to develop. 

Remember, you can always assess at the 90-day mark using an employee survey to evaluate feedback and continue iterating on your onboarding process!

Scale Employee Onboarding with a Human Touch

As your company grows, you’ll need to find new ways to deliver a consistent employee onboarding experience by automating time-consuming tasks and collaborating with managers.

According to Sabol, automation has allowed his team to focus on building a more human onboarding process. “You don't want to automate it so that it feels like a machine and you lose the personal touch,” he said. 

“Automation allowed our team to focus more on the curation of the benefits or the day-one orientation,” added Sabol. “It's about focusing on the right work, not so much the manual work.”

There’s an up-front cost to working this way, admitted Del Beccaro, but it engages HR managers and department heads in the process, while ensuring consistency for new hires. 

At Sora, Del Beccaro uses automated emails, task management, and other plug-and-play templates to help motivate department heads to remain engaged throughout onboarding. 

For example, if employees respond to automated emails, they always get a response from a real person. And if managers need to respond to new hire questions, they already have templates to work from to make the task less time-consuming.

“Make it easy and fun and a little more digestible,” Del Beccaro suggested. “That requires upfront planning and thoughtfulness, but it pays a lot of dividends in the end.”

Final Thoughts

Your remote onboarding experience has a lot riding on its shoulders. Keeping new hires excited and engaged as they build new relationships and ramp up on projects will ensure their success—and the success of your entire team.

Welcome is employee event software that supports the entire employee lifecycle, including remote onboarding events. From meet-and-greets to compliance tasks, use Welcome to collect employee feedback, check for understanding, and foster relationships that last far beyond your new hire’s first 90 days.

Start building a better onboarding experience for your distributed team today. Contact us below for a demo or to find out more! 

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