Even before the current pandemic, there was a 46% shift in companies moving to remote work arrangements. However Founders can underestimate the importance of onboarding new employees. In fact, 22% of companies have no formal onboarding process while 49% have a successful process. Onboarding new team member is not a one-day event; that is orientation. Onboarding continues for months after the team member has started resulting in long term engagement, retention, and productivity.
1. Create an onboarding plan that is specific to the role. The plan for onboarding should mirror the same introductions, background information, and interactions that would occur if they come onsite. Reproduce the experience using video technology and shared Google drives or technology like Notion. Be sure to send swag, a coffee gift card for the first meeting, and consider having lunch delivered in. It demonstrates you put thought into setting the new hire up for success and ensures nothing slips through the cracks that you may need from the new hire.
2. Welcome them to your startup face-to-face. There is great truth in the statement “you only get one chance to make a great impression.” Using video conferencing allows the new employee to ask all of their questions, get clarity on expectations, and establish rapport with you, their manager.
3. Introduce the team. It can be challenging for a new employee to learn who does what without the benefit of an introduction in person. Be sure to have a good process in place to handover the video conferencing to the next person. If a person isn’t available, use visual aids like a slide presentation to show a picture of the person and outline what they do and how the two parties will interact. Meeting everyone helps them to feel part of the team.
4. Break things up. Virtual onboarding requires a lot of documentation (e.g., org charts, processes, responsibilities) but break them up into different parts. Ensure the information shared is successfully interpreted before moving on to the next part of the onboarding so there is less chance of having to revisit topics.
5. Make sure you cover company culture. It is important. Give them more background on the company in how people like to interact, preferred work tools, how people interact. Consider pairing them with another employee who they may feel more relaxed asking questions and sharing answers.
6. Assign ownership from day one. People are fast learners and flourish when given responsibility. Make sure you include tasks assigned to them.
7. Be flexible and adaptable. Make adjustments to your process to make sure it is effective. Do an evaluation with recent hires and ask for feedback and recommendations.
Recruiting new hires can be a stressful time for startups. It is hard work and very time consuming especially when you are in pursuit of the perfect match. Take the opportunity to inject your core values from day one with your employees, familiarizing new hires with the office environment, company structure, culture and methods of working by assigning tasks that foster independence and confidence in their decision making. And remember, a new team member can always bring that fresh perspective you were looking for if only given the chance.