Onboarding New Employees Remotely

Reflektive became a 100% remote workforce overnight. In addition to creating my own work-from-home setup, I’m onboarding our new head of corporate marketing along with two other members of our team in the coming weeks. 

At Reflektive, our people and environment are uniquely friendly and inclusive. We strive to impart our collegial culture from Day 1. As such, many of our onboarding steps have been done face-to-face, and even those who worked from a home-office flew out to our headquarters for one or two weeks of onboarding. In this new working environment, we had to rethink our process to account for our newly remote workforce.

Our remote onboarding strategies include ways to:

  • Create a sense of welcome, community and inclusion 
  • Accommodate our 100% digital work activities
  • Establish communication channels that would otherwise happen at our desks

Here’s how we’re modifying our onboarding strategy for our newly remote workforce:

Typical Onboarding StepVirtual Onboarding Approach
Welcome email for employee informing them about their first day – Rewritten with new details 
– Consider creating a personal video (shot on your phone) welcoming the new hire
– Include new remote work expectations
Introduce new employee to colleagues via email – Continue this activity
– Add additional communication channel (Slack) along with more detailed bio and photo
– Assign a virtual onboarding buddy to support the new hire in the first couple weeks.
– Set up a meet & greet video for them
Work with IT to prepare new employee office equipment – laptop, email, and other logins – IT to ship new laptops to employee’s home
– *Glitch* Manufacturer is unable to ship new laptops.
– New plan: Employee to use their personal computer
– New instructions to setting up email and logins from a personal computer created and emailed to the employee for 7:30AM on their first day
– Set up a meeting with IT at the start of the employee’s first day to troubleshoot any potential technical issues.
First-day meet & greet and office tour – Set up a first-day morning video conference with team, along with other meet & greet video sessions for later in the day
– Share home-work spaces on video conference
– Send email and Slack communications introducing the new employee
Team lunch – Order online lunch to be delivered during a virtual team meeting
New employee swag – Ship to employee’s home as a welcome package
– If your company swag is unavailable, order a nice care package from Amazon or another retailer.
– Local gift cards are also a nice touch and a great way to direct resources to the businesses who need it most right now
Review and complete HR documents and policies – New virtual meeting with HR team for all new hires
– Add content about work from home policies and expectations
– Collect documents scanned and sent via email by employee
– All other forms and details remain the same
Company overview and introduction – Continue with functional presentations from marketing, sales, engineering, finance, etc., now held virtually
– Add new virtual session or a recorded video message with the CEO sharing more about Reflektive’s mission and vision
– Set up a meet & greet with the most senior manager in your new employees’ organization for relationship-building and executive support
Get to know key stakeholders – Provide list of key stakeholders to the employee — recommend they set up virtual coffee chats with these people
– Share a virtual org chart with faces and names to help them understand company structure
Review company and department goals and plans – Share company-wide priorities and objectives with goal management product
– In one of our 1:1s, share how our team goals align with the company goals, and how the new employee supports these objectives
– Schedule a session to define and enter goals into performance management solution
First manager meeting – Review expectations for the role
– Provide guidance to new employee to build a 30-60-90 day plan
– Schedule daily 1:1s for at least two weeks to help your new team member acclimate. After the two-week period, weekly 1:1s help managers and employees stay aligned
– Add a reminder to your calendar to check-in over Slack/Chat at least 1 more time during the day
– Add 10 minute check-in at the end of Day 1 to answer any questions that may have arisen over the day
Get to know the product and services – New employees to join trainings with new Sales hires on product overviews, pitch deck presentations, etc. This is a great way to learn from a seller’s perspective (as we all have to sell) and get to know more colleagues
– Recommend useful reading and reference. Build a library of presentations, playbooks, videos and documents for new hires.
– Share client stories so the new employee can understand the customer value of our solution and services.
Understand employee sentiment on onboarding experience – Onboarding survey sent automatically to provide a pulse on the employee’s sentiment and progress
– Encourage the employee to solicit feedback along the way from key stakeholders
Keep the enthusiasm high – Be sure to share recognition frequently and publicly with the employee via Email, Slack and other channels used for employee communication
– This helps build the new employee’s internal brand and sets them up for early success

At Reflektive, we are using our product to help develop our virtual onboarding plan. Below are a few useful examples to share for our Reflektive customers:

Organizational Chart

As you introduce new employees to the organization, your organizational chart with faces, names and titles will be more important than ever. This is a neat feature in Reflektive that not too many people know about. Since we integrate with HRIS systems like ADP, Workday, SuccessFactors, Namly and BambooHR, we can easily pull organizational information for all employees to see. 

From an employee’s profile, click the org chart icon below their picture and next to their title.

And then navigate from team to team across the company’s organization with a click.

Company Goals

Use Reflektive to share company goals. This feature not only is a great communication tool, it also helps to drive alignment on key organizational priorities.

Click on the Company goals, then expand to see the laddering of goals and subgoals

The org chart view is useful here too, which displays when you click the “View alignment” icon . Now you can share how each team member supports company goals.

Reflektive’s goal management product is also a great segue to talk about goal setting and accountability at your company. 

Flexible 1:1s

To boost your new hire’s productivity, we recommend regular 1:1s, scheduled at a high frequency. Reflektive’s 1:1 tool is an intuitive product with the following capabilities:

  • Gmail, Slack, MS Outlook, and MS Teams Integrations
    • How they help: Enable employees to easily add and see 1:1 agenda items, right in their favorite workplace tools
    • Reflektive Best Practice: I pull up my 1:1 agenda items in Gmail shortly before my meeting so I have better context on what we’ll be discussing
  • Action Items
    • How they help: Visual reminders of what you need to complete to support your new hire
    • Reflektive Best Practice: Once my direct report and I align on next steps during our 1:1, I immediately add it to my Action Items. I set aside time each week to review and follow-up on my Action Items.
  • Conversation Starters
    • How they help: Drive meaningful conversations that an employee may have difficulty introducing, such as career conversations and coaching opportunities.
    • Reflektive Best Practice: I use Conversation Starters if I notice that my direct report and I haven’t added many agenda items to our 1:1. If it’s a light week, we can catch up on career goals and share feedback on different projects.

With my 1:1s, I always follow a 4Ps approach: People, Processes, Projects, and Personal. I ask questions in each of these areas to ensure we are probing deeply across my team member’s progress. And as topics are covered you can move them off your agenda list, or reorganize your list to talk about what’s most important first.

Here’s what our 1:1s product looks like:

Onboarding Survey

If you don’t have an automated onboarding survey already set up, work with your HR partner to launch it.  Our survey template covers the new hire’s recruiting and orientation experiences, as well as company and manager communication. Some questions include:

  • “I received helpful company information during onboarding”
  • “I understand my company’s goals”
  • “I feel welcome and part of the team”

You can modify the template to add new questions, including ratings scales, free text, and multiple-choice response types. What’s more, you can customize the timing of the survey so that it is delivered at the right point in the employee journey, whether that’s 30 days, six weeks, or two months after the hire date. Once you select the timing, onboarding surveys will be automatically sent to all new hires — no manual intervention needed from the HR team.

Company-Wide Recognition

Recognition is important to keep new employees motivated, and help them feel connected to the company. No longer can you share a “great job” in your team meeting or all hands session. We are using Reflektive’s recognition feature more than we ever have. It’s a great way to give kudos or congratulate a job well done. Giving thanks is super easy – you can do it from Reflektive, Gmail, MS Teams, MS Outlook, and Slack. For extra bonus points, create an incentive program and encourage everyone to step up their recognition game!

Anytime Feedback

Beyond recognition, honest feedback can be invaluable in an employee’s early days at the company. Be sure they know how to easily solicit feedback after key milestones. As a manager, you can reach out directly to key stakeholders to get their unbiased feedback too.

Be sure to check out our online community and our resources section of the website to get more information on best practices and how to’s on the above recommendations. 

If you’re looking to craft a thoughtful onboarding plan for your remote employees, please reach out here .