Having a new member join your remote team can be exciting. But without a proper onboarding process in place, a new remote employee can find it extremely challenging to fit in, in spite of the benefits of working from home.
An employee onboarding process is critical if you don’t want new employees to struggle in those first couple of weeks and do need them to abide by all your remote work company policies. It can also help them get up to speed and start performing immediately to add more value to your business.
With an increasing number of companies opting for virtual workspaces, putting a strong remote work culture in place is necessary, especially for smooth employee onboarding. But lengthy employee manuals and handbooks are simply not enough to support a remote workforce for their onboarding needs.
Using videos can be a powerful tool in your arsenal to help employees learn more about their new job and the company culture. Many employees prefer videos over emails, documents, or online articles. Videos also increase retention — most people retain more information after watching a video than when the same message is conveyed through text.
If you are keen on having a successful remote employee onboarding process to manage new employees more efficiently, engaging videos are necessary. Let’s dive in to learn more about remote employee onboarding and how you can seamlessly onboard new hires using various video formats.
How does employee onboarding help?
Employee onboarding refers to a set of activities that can help new employees integrate into the new work environment and learn about company culture. As well as develop the knowledge and skills required to perform as a productive member of the team.
Onboarding is beneficial for both the employees and you. It allows the employee to learn more about the new work environment and get acclimatised to the new role.
Moreover, employees feel more engaged, which also impacts retention as a study shows that 87 percent of engaged employees are less likely to quit their jobs than employees with lower engagement levels.
Onboarding also affects your profitability–companies with effective onboarding processes clock in more revenue and healthier profit margins than those that employ unsatisfactory onboarding strategies.
What are the typical challenges of remote employee onboarding and how do you overcome them?
Here are some common challenges you may face onboarding employees remotely:
- Absence of physical interaction
Let’s acknowledge the biggest challenge of remote onboarding; there’s a complete lack of in-person interaction and an absence of camaraderie between various members of your team.
Your new hires are left on their own to figure out how to fit the workplace culture, without having the benefit of talking to their colleagues or team members over a cup of coffee in the cafeteria. It’s not surprising that out of 1100 remote employees, 52 percent feel that they don’t experience bonding with their virtual coworkers.
- Providing the proper support to new hires
Onboarding is a collaborative process–different teams within your organisation work together to ensure that new employees have easy access to all equipment or software they need to hit the ground running.
But you may find it challenging to provide the right tools to a new employee or to train them about specialised software that you use when you are onboarding employees remotely.
- Feeling isolated
Every new employee must feel welcome to the organisation to boost employee loyalty and retention. While your HR team can do a face-to-face introduction when the new employee is present physically, it is difficult to make remote workers feel part of the team.
- Combatting the monotony
If you are relying too heavily on voluminous PDFs or SOPs to onboard new hires, the chances are that they may jump right to work without bothering to even scan through the documents. You need to make sincere efforts towards reducing the monotony and making employee onboarding a truly engaging process.
An easy fix to overcome the problems mentioned above is by using synchronous video call solutions as part of your onboarding strategy. Using video calls is one of the most helpful remote work tips to help new hires feel part of your organisation and is perfect for the first-day onboarding plan.
For instance, you can organise a video call meeting to introduce the new hire to the rest of the team. You can get creative and host a welcome party via a video call to welcome the new team members on board.
You can also schedule weekly video calls with your team to catch up on deliverables and help the new hires learn more about the working dynamics, shortening their learning curve.
If you have a large number of new employees, you can also consider onboarding in groups or cohorts to reduce the effort of setting up multiple video calls. Consider working with a smaller number of new hires to help the rest of the team feel more comfortable collaborating. Ensure that they do not feel “video call burnout”.
Creative remote employee onboarding video ideas you can try
While video calls are useful, they may not always be the answer.
So here are a few video ideas to build a solid in-person connection and overcome the challenges of remote onboarding:
1. A welcome message from the founders
Nothing makes a new employee feel more special than a personalised welcome message from the founders. It can make the employee feel comfortable in a new working environment where they don’t benefit from meeting anyone in-person.
You don’t need any fancy equipment to shoot these videos, as they don’t have to be highly produced or polished. Simply take out your phone and hit record to start a healthy working relationship.
2. Informative videos explaining the various processes and systems
When it comes to IT or software protocols for working efficiently in a virtual environment, your new hire needs to be on the same page as you. However, explaining the nitty-gritty of tasks or time management tools, etc., can be tedious over a video call.
Besides, the resource persons conducting live calls may not always have the bandwidth to do that for every remote hire.
Instead, you can shoot a short video going over all the requirements and provide demos of various tools used for day-to-day work. It will allow your new employees to work seamlessly with the rest of the team.
3. Day in the life videos
These videos are great to let a new hire know about what it’s like to work in your organisation and give them a feel of the culture.
You can take inspiration from the below video by Zynga, a Facebook game developer. Their day-in-the-life videos give a sneak peek into life inside headquarters in San Francisco.
4. Videos to explain your business
While a new hire knows about their role in the company, it is your responsibility to help them understand more about your business if you expect optimal performance.
Take a hint from a video by Waste Management Services in Edmonton, which explains why employees love the work they do to keep the city beautiful.
You don’t need a degree in design or to hire a full-fledged video marketing team for creating these videos. Various free online video editors can come to your rescue and save you from spending hours in front of your screen.
Using the customisable templates and stock footage on these editors, you can easily create videos from scratch.
Best practices for a great remote employee onboarding process
Don’t set up your new employees to fail by failing to plan for their onboarding. Create a roadmap for the employee onboarding process to get the new hires to deliver their best from day one:
- Review the pre-boarding process
The pre-boarding process kickstarts from the time a new hire signs the contract with your organisation and lasts until the time they report for their first day at work. Industry-leading companies are 53 percent more likely to formulate a pre-boarding process.
Pre-boarding has a significant impact on how a new employee feels on the first day. In fact, 4 percent of employees have quit after a terrible first day, making pre-boarding even more critical to consider.
Get a headstart for your employee onboarding process by preparing a detailed list of tasks to be completed for the arrival of new hires. These are primarily administrative or logistical items (such as ordering or licensing relevant equipment and software), but getting them out of the way can increase your operational efficiency.
- Personalise the onboarding experience
Cookie-cutter onboarding programs can feel very dated. In the age of hyper-personalisation, factoring in the individual needs of a new hire in the onboarding program can result in higher job satisfaction.
Make your new employees feel extra important by getting other team members to congratulate them on the first day to celebrate their joining. Schedule a virtual office tour to give them a lay of the land. You can also add personalised merchandise to the employee welcome kit to create a solid impression from day one.
- Prepare a schedule to ease the workload
New employees have a huge to-do list to handle during their first week, and over 50% of workers may show up late to their first day at work.
To give them a breather, create a schedule and send digital invites. Block time for team calls, onboarding sessions, and various training programs. Outlining a timetable and sharing it in advance can soothe the frayed nerves during the initial days.
- Seek regular feedback from the new cohorts
Ask your new hires about their onboarding experience to identify what works. Hiring someone new and expecting them to become part of your organisation will not happen overnight.
Pay close attention to identifying issues or shortfalls to improve the overall employee onboarding process. Addressing feedback in real-time can work like oxygen for the employee onboarding process.
Things you should avoid during remote onboarding
It is very easy for new hires to feel completely disoriented due to remote onboarding, as it’s a new concept for many. These fail-safe best practices can help you support your newest members of staff and prevent them from feeling overwhelmed during onboarding:
- Resist information overload
Working remotely is full of unique challenges, as employees are expected to manage responsibilities at both home and work. Focusing on work can be challenging. Be careful about the volume of information you’re providing during the remote onboarding process.
- Micromanagement and constant communication doesn’t work
Remote working involves the entire team working on an autopilot mode. To allow your team to work comfortably, you need to have a strong sense of trust. The absence of trust can lead to unnecessary micromanagement and tempers flying high.
Acknowledge that simply because you can stay in constant touch with your new hires doesn’t mean you should. Allow the new employees ample opportunity to navigate through the virtual landscape at their own pace. Scheduling calls on an hourly basis to oversee what the new hires are doing can ultimately backfire.
- Don’t add to technology fatigue
While team communication and collaboration are key to remote employee onboarding, be mindful of the number of tools you expect the new hires to use while working remotely. Unless absolutely necessary, don’t get them started with too many new tools at once.
- Don’t leave everything to the HR team
Don’t make the mistake of thinking employee onboarding is the sole responsibility of the HR team. It is a collaborative effort from managers and other key team members to help the new hire fit into their role seamlessly.
While the HR team is responsible for relaying information about salary benefits, employee policies, work environment, and training, managers and other senior staff should explain the expectations from the new hires, KPIs and OKRs, and share insights about the overall company culture.
A new job is always stressful, and doing it remotely only adds to the stress. Strategic onboarding can help you set your new employees up for success right off the bat. Video, whether through virtual conferencing or creative recorded alternatives, allow you to streamline the remote employee onboarding process.
Using these tips as a guideline, develop your own remote onboarding process that makes your new team members feel welcome with minimal effort.
Originally published May 19, 2021, updated Jan 16, 2023