You want all employees, regardless of location, to have an onboarding experience filled with enriching and informative experiences. After all, success in a new job is in everyone’s best interest. Employees, teams, and the whole organization benefit from employees who have completed a comprehensive onboarding.

Remote recruiting and onboarding are not entirely new; according to an Owl Labs study, 18 percent of employees work remotely full-time. Lately, though, even more individuals are working remotely. According to Gartner, 88 percent of organizations have encouraged or required employees to work from home due to the coronavirus pandemic. As organizations continue to reconsider which positions can be permanently remote, remote recruiting may even increase over time.

Whether you routinely hire remote employees or it’s something new to your organization, you can develop an onboarding process to satisfy your compliance obligations and get new hires ready for day one.

The Benefits of Effective Onboarding

The hiring and onboarding process sets the tone for an employee’s future experiences with your organization. When done right, robust onboarding gives new hires the tools they need to ramp up quickly. 

Effective onboarding also plays an important role in helping your organization manage hiring risks associated with new hire documentation. It can be frustrating for employees and for HR and payroll staff if an employee begins work with the organization without having completed all the necessary documents. Missing or incorrect information can lead to a delay in payroll processing or can result in fines during a recordkeeping audit.

When your onboarding program effectively gets new hires onto payroll and settled into their roles, you can realize many benefits, including:

  • Better employee retention: Employees who have a good onboarding experience get more opportunities to discover the positive aspects of your organization, which encourages them to stay longer. According to Click Boarding, employees who experience great onboarding are 69 percent more likely to stay with a company for three years, and 58 percent more likely to stay beyond three years.
  • Higher employee engagement: A survey by BambooHR found employees who experienced an effective onboarding program were 18 times more likely to feel highly committed to their organization and 30 times more likely to have high job satisfaction.
  • Improved compliance: When you have the right tools in place to meet your compliance obligations for new hires, you don’t have to rely on unsecured email and spreadsheets, which can contribute to important documents being lost or misfiled. Better compliance also positions you to avoid fines related to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or Department of Labor audits. Civil penalties for violations related to poor work authorization procedures can range from $573-$20,000 or more, depending on the number and severity of violations.

7 Key Components of a Remote Onboarding Program

Remote employees may not be in the office in the critical first weeks of their onboarding, but it doesn’t mean they can’t benefit from a great experience. Additionally, individual members of the recruiting team may not be in the office, either. Despite this, you can still welcome new employees and get them started on the right foot from anywhere.

As the next step in the employee journey after hire, onboarding must cover all the bases in terms of new hire documentation and introduction to your culture and people. Though members of the team may work remotely, you want to be able to conduct effective onboarding just as you would if everyone was in the same work location. When building or improving your remote onboarding program, make sure you include the following components.

A formal onboarding timeline

An onboarding schedule helps new hires understand the timing for onboarding activities before and during their first weeks on the job. A detailed timeline also helps to highlight any deadlines for completion or submission of forms. The schedule keeps everyone—the new hire, their manager, and HR—on track, helping to reduce the likelihood of important deliverables becoming lost in the shuffle. You can include the following items in your onboarding timeline:

  • Training on new systems
  • Introductions to key members of the team
  • Due dates for new hire forms, including W-4, I-9, and direct deposit authorizations

Digital work authorization 

Electronic I-9 and eVerify processes allow you to make sure new hires are legally authorized to work in your organization. Digital work authorization simplifies the onboarding process by making it easier for employees to submit their I-9 form and supporting documents. Working with your background screening partner, you can also confirm new hires’ employment eligibility via integration with the government eVerify database.

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Online resource library 

Fully meeting the needs of remote employees requires making useful resources more available. By offering new hires an online resource library, you give them access to critical information they need to be successful. Instead of having to ask around and search for resources, they can go to one place and access document such as:

  • New hire forms
  • Company org charts
  • Employee handbooks 
  • Training materials
  • Benefits summaries

Video information sessions

Just because you can’t get together with new hires in the same room doesn’t mean you have to eliminate face-to-face onboarding interactions. With the aid of orientation videos and live video sessions, you can give remote hires access to overviews of company mission and values, products and services, and company history. In a 2020 Wyzowl survey, 69 percent of people said companies could improve onboarding by using more video.

Opportunities to connect

According to Igloo research, 80 percent of remote employees feel left out. You can help them feel included with activities designed to bring people together. Team introduction calls and one-on-ones with their manager help new hires connect with the people they work with on a daily basis. To help people connect more informally, you can encourage activities such as virtual happy hours, virtual team lunches, and icebreaker activities to get people talking about themselves.

Clear communication of goals and expectations

Remote hires have limited opportunities for in-person check-ins; they can’t peek their head into a manager’s office to clarify the direction they should take on a work item. As a result, it’s essential to make performance expectations crystal clear to new hires starting on day one. In addition to setting SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based) goals, you can use cloud-based performance review tools and pre-scheduled performance check-ins.

Periodic reviews 

By conducting regular reviews of your onboarding program, you can identify opportunities for improvement. You also give yourself a chance to incorporate any new digital tools that have become available since your last review. You can identify opportunities to improve your onboarding program by conducting new hire surveys (remote employees included). Regular audits of your hiring and background screening process also provide an opportunity to review your onboarding practices for compliance and efficiency.

Enhance Remote Recruiting with Great Onboarding

In this digital age, the chances of having a remote component in your recruiting and onboarding activities are likely to increase. Whether remote recruiting is the standard operating procedure for your organization or a temporary solution, you’ll need to prioritize both compliance and great onboarding experiences for new hires.  

Working off-site doesn’t have to be a detriment to hiring and onboarding employees. When you leverage available technology and work with a partner who shares your commitment to delivering positive candidate and employee experiences, you can hire from any office and any location.

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