Ask Ginger Anything: Onboarding New Hires Remotely

December 9, 2020

As I endeavor to equip and inspire you to build cultures of enduring greatness, it’s my desire that I truly meet you where you are. That’s why I’m thrilled to introduce a new series of “Ask Ginger Anything” that you will see periodically in my newsletter moving forward! These are my responses to real questions that I’ve received from members of this incredible community.

Q: How do you engage new hires who have come on board while working remotely and joined a team that is already established?

As we are all struggling with the lack of interpersonal connection, can you envision the vantage point of a new hire? A large part of assimilating into a new organization traditionally occurred via face-to-face. We have assembled best practices—gathered from multiple organizations—regarding onboarding in today’s environment. We hope these pointers give you a blueprint to your specific needs.

Don’t skimp on the welcome.

  • If your normal procedure would have been a group welcoming event, just move the event to the virtual environment. Don’t skip this step as an opportunity to showcase how glad you are to have this new person on board.Screen Shot 2020-12-10 at 8.23.50 PM
  • Send some SWAG in advance. Nothing beats feeling like part of the team by sporting a company logo in your first virtual meeting. If your company isn’t a logo-boasting crowd, welcoming cookies or chocolates are a fine substitute to set a hospitable tone.

Push (or create) a digital onboarding hub.

  • If you didn’t have a digital onboarding hub prior to COVID-19, you realize how much you need one now. The goal is to streamline the process for access in one spot instead of expecting employees to jump from one platform to another. Offer one-stop orientation from benefits sign-up to an interactive understanding of the company’s values.  Here are some enviable sites.
  • A new hire obviously requires more frequent check-ins than a more seasoned, independent employee. Establish an agreed-upon check-in cadence between you and your new hire early in the process. Start the process of praise and developmental feedback early.
  • Interaction that might naturally occur requires more facilitation. A longer list of people to meet during onboarding is likely in order: co-workers, the boss’s direct reports, and employees that your new person will interact with in other departments. Don’t forget outside resources as well. Make interacting with others easier by including a photo and contact information. Accelerate the frequency of virtual meetings.

Be clear on the available resources.

  • Providing the appropriate hardware, software and office supplies will likely take a different approach to assure that remote workers have everything to set them up for success. Depending on the size of your organization, some may have a department ready to support this effort.
  • A grounding in the critical communication tools which can lessen the isolation and speed up the assimilation.   Does the culture of your organization rely on group messaging tools (Facebook Workplace, Slack, etc.) or are you an email culture?  Likewise, most organizations are restrictive in the video conferencing choices whether they favor Microsoft Teams, Zoom, or another platform.  Regardless of your choices, consistency in your platforms is important in improving proficiency so we all hear less of “we cannot hear you—you are on mute” or “you forgot to mute and we can hear your dog.”  We have all been the guilty one!
  • You have likely been asked by existing employees about allowable expenses for remote work.  And it’s equally important to establish those guidelines early with new hires. Here is a resource about that from SHRM that may be helpful.

Appoint a buddy or a mentor (or both).

  • You, as the leader, don’t have to be responsible for all the interaction with the new employee.  Designate a peer who needs a leadership assignment to support the new person’s success.  We all know we learn when we are teaching, so task that person with spending discreet time bringing the company’s values to life.
  • Buffer, a standout company known for its social media management platform, appoints two types of buddies for new employees. One is a “role buddy” who understands the demands you would be facing in your job and another is a “culture buddy” who can assist with understanding spoken and unspoken aspects of the organization. To hear more about how they have pivoted during Covid, check out this interview that appeared in Fast Company

You likely do not need convincing about the importance of Onboarding or you wouldn’t have read to this point.  But there may be someone in your organization who needs convincing or needs to free resources so that you can build out a stellar program.  Share with them that according to research from the Wynhurst Group, employees who had the benefit of a structured onboarding process were nearly 60% more likely to be with the same company after three years. Strong onboarding leads to a stronger retention program…and who can argue with that!

Have questions of your own for a future Ask Ginger Anything? Simply reply here and you may be featured in a future newsletter!

Together, we truly can build Unstoppable Cultures!



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