Penelope Feros, Vice President of Cherwell Software for APAC, explains the importance of thorough and robust onboarding for new remote employees.

Onboarding a new employee is a complex, yet critical process that can make or break the first day on the job. Effective onboarding leads to benefits like higher job satisfaction, improved employee retention, and even improved job performance.

However, as companies continue to hire and welcome new employees remotely due to the varying degrees of COVID-19 restrictions for the foreseeable future, a cohesive onboarding process that takes into account a remote or hybrid work environment is essential in order to empower new hires with the information they need to do their jobs.

A recent Gartner poll highlighted that 54% of HR leaders indicated that poor technology and/or infrastructure for remote working remains the biggest barrier to effective remote working.

Similarly, the onboarding process needs to consider new challenges with managing the in-person and administrative aspects as more new hires will likely be remote on Day One. Because the set-up process for new hires requires input and delivery from multiple departments, it is not always easy or efficient. Companies may use legacy spreadsheets, email chains or even sticky notes to coordinate new employee services. With the added complexity of COVID-19 restrictions, hiring managers are often left scrambling to set up a new employee for success.

Get organised before Day One

A defined onboarding process to follow for remote new employees will help to make sure that no important steps are missed—either in advance of the employee starting or once the employee has already started. There is nothing worse than having a new employee report for work on their first day, only to find that the necessary IT equipment hasn’t arrived at their home address in time because it wasn’t documented anywhere.

A comprehensive remote onboarding checklist should be created and followed every time. Include roles and responsibilities for each item. Perhaps HR is responsible for coordinating services, but the new hire’s direct manager is responsible for a virtual orientation.

Spread out paperwork, but don’t lose track

There is frequently a lot of paperwork associated with hiring new employees. They may be asked to review and sign employment agreements, and asked to provide payment information for direct deposit, fill out their superannuation standard choice form and more. Some companies may require employees complete mandatory training during their first week.

The process can be improved by spreading out the paperwork over the first one to three weeks of employment instead of concentrating it all into the first couple of days. A new hire that logs in on their first day ready to give their best effort can easily become discouraged when confined to hours of training videos, especially when working remotely without the social support of a team in-person. A human resources service management (HRSM) self-service portal can enable new hires to complete paperwork and training in their own time.


Establish departmental cooperation for onboarding

Departmental cooperation is crucial for a successful and coordinated onboarding program. Getting a new employee set up for their first day often requires services to be coordinated across departments, with security, IT, facilities management, and HR. Organisations must develop a streamlined approach to notifying each department of its responsibilities in advance of a new hire’s arrival and ensuring that services are delivered on-time to optimise their experience.

A hiring manager may have to coordinate with various departments to get new hires working remotely various physical items safely, such as their laptop and welcome pack. Hiring managers may also have to coordinate to get benefits, direct deposit, and payroll taxes set up. 

Connect new employees with internal resources

One of the worst things that new remote hires can experience is needing help and not having a team member in the room they can turn to for help. Invariably, however, new hires will need to access HR, IT, and security services in their first month.

In order to succeed in their roles, new employees need to be connected to important resources in the company. This means helping them establish points of contact in other departments and a good working relationship with their direct manager and at least one member of the human resources team. It also means ensuring that new employees are adequately informed about what types of services the organisation offers and how they can access those services when required.

Integrated approach to HR key to employee success

While some organisations assign different onboarding functions to each HR staff member, this strategy is far from optimal. Having each staff member specialise in just one aspect of the process creates knowledge silos and a disintegrated system that makes it inconvenient for new hires to access HR services when they need them.

By adopting an integrated approach to HR, with all HR systems, knowledge, and requests combined into a single HRSM platform, companies can remove individual touch points for specific tasks and create a single point of contact for service requests to which any member of HR staff can respond.

The integration supports the shift in the role of HR, evolving from talent management and towards successfully integrating new hires into the company, helping them learn the skills needed to perform effectively in their new roles, and helping connect them with important people, assets and tools. The new focus on ‘candidate experience’ and ‘employee success’ reflects the newfound wisdom that a successful onboarding process leads to better hiring outcomes.

Automate workflows for new employee success

A service management approach can increase efficiency of the onboarding process. Companies that have adopted automated workflows can better coordinate the onboarding process remotely between departments, minimising tedious manual work and eliminating needless delays.

As many companies continue to grapple with the new working reality, HRSM platforms can make sure new hires are set up to succeed, leaving hiring managers to focus on the more value-adding aspects of the onboarding process that will lead to superior employee satisfaction, retention, and engagement.

Penelope Feros

This article was written by Penelope Feros, Vice President, APAC, Cherwell Software.


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