If the coronavirus pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we can achieve more online than we ever thought. Grocery shopping, remote working, team meetings, even socializing with friends over a quiz. So, why are so many companies failing to implement online onboarding for new hires?
In this guide, we’re covering why and how to implement online onboarding at your company, to benefit your employees, your business, and your profits. Then, we round it out with a few tools that you can use to make your company more remote even beyond the onboarding process.
The benefits of online onboarding
The employee onboarding process is the most fragile stage of the employment relationship. It’s also the most impactful. Twenty percent of new hires leave within the first 45 days. A solid onboarding process not only reduces this statistic, but it can also increase long-term productivity by over 70%.
However, a solid onboarding or training process can be difficult to achieve, deliver, and maintain using manual methods. Online training changes this.
Online programs involve using online software and learning management tools to train new hires using a computer.
New hires can begin onboarding as soon as they’ve accepted a job offer, rather than waiting for the first day of employment. This enables you to get the formalities out of the way to make the employee’s first day more engaging and to get them up-to-speed quicker.
It also enables employees to learn and train in other roles, which is great for succession planning and cross-functional teamwork.
Online onboarding uses interactive learning to make the onboarding process more fun, more memorable, and better than sitting and listening to a manager recite the employee handbook. Plus, remote work as a whole is a huge employee perk. It enhances work-life balance, which leads to lower stress and higher performance.
Once you have implemented online onboarding at your company, the hard work is done. New employees can complete their training as soon as they join, without HR having to repeat processes or take time out of managers’ diaries. This also ensures that everyone receives the same information and training; crucial for legal requirements and company regulations.
The online completion of learning modules and tests gives you accurate records of who completed training and when. This is especially useful for scheduling refresher training.
As you’ll already know, remote business practices enable your business to continue operating, even when key employees can’t make it into the office or a pandemic prevents you from opening.
Also, i’s predicted that the coronavirus pandemic will increase future remote working and telecommuting. Online onboarding allows you to benefit from this trend, while also giving your remote hires the same experience and start as other employees.
Remote training allows you to create high-performing, multi-functional project teams, regardless of where employees are located.
Wider talent pools
Moving your onboarding and training programs online means you can engage talent from different cities or countries, without asking candidates to relocate. This opens up your options when it comes to sourcing top talent for your business.
Ultimately, online onboarding helps new hires to integrate into your company smoothly, efficiently, and effectively. Other benefits include lower overheads, better customer availability, and more flexibility.
How to implement online onboarding
There are five steps to implement online onboarding at your company. It’s recommended that you start the process from scratch, even if you already have a manual onboarding process, to maximize effectiveness.
1. Establish the basic goals
First, it’s important to establish the primary goal of your onboarding process. For example, do you want new hires to learn only the essential information about the company and their responsibilities? Or do you want to use online onboarding to adequately prepare and upskill the employee for their particular role?
Once you’ve established the primary goal, outline the fundamental elements of your online onboarding process, including:
- When will it start?
- How long will it last for?
- What impression do you want to give new hires?
- What do employees need to know?
- What do employees want to know?
- How will you gather feedback?
- How will you monitor success?
2. Map the employee onboarding journey
Using your goals from step one, map out an employee onboarding journey that’s logical, informative, and confidence-building.
A typical employee onboarding journey consists of preboarding, training and mentoring, and continuous check-ins.
The period before the first day is perfect for engaging the employee, getting them excited about their new role, and completing initial tasks.
This can be achieved by sending new hires a link to the onboarding system, where you can include:
- A welcome message from their manager and team.
- Helpful information, such as what to wear, an office map, and a job description.
- Documents to complete, such as contracts, payroll details, and benefit forms.
B) First-day introduction
The employee’s first day should be used to introduce them to the company and their new role.
Online onboarding can be used to provide useful information, such as:
- Information on the company history, values, and customers.
- An organizational chart that shows how the employee fits into the bigger picture.
- HR policies and operating procedures.
- Employee benefits, perks, and development opportunities.
Don’t forget to include information about the fun stuff too, such as a link to the intranet, a diary of social events, and a who’s who of the company.
Next, you’ll want new hires to complete the training necessary to start being productive.
- Training required by law or company regulations, such as health and safety, equality and diversity, and data protection.
- Training on the systems they’ll be using, including bespoke software, the intranet, and the HR portal.
- Training on how to perform their role, such as customer service, public speaking, or communication training.
Online onboarding allows you to deliver microlearning in a fun and interactive way, using learning modules, quizzes, step-by-step videos, and even test environments.
It’s useful to assign new employees a mentor they can contact via email or webchat with any questions they have. Some companies find it useful to assign a mentor from a different department to help new hires make connections across the company.
E) Virtual check-ins
Your onboarding system should be used to schedule periodic reviews with your new hire after their start date. You can use online forms to gather feedback on how they’re finding the role, any pain points they’ve experienced, and any concerns they have.
F) Ongoing engagement
Your onboarding journey is an opportunity to engage with employees throughout their lifetime with your company. You can use the system to provide ongoing access to important information such as policies and procedures, run refresher training, and check-in with employees on how they’re doing.
3. Pick a system
There are many employee onboarding and learning management tools available. When picking the best system for your company, it’s important to consider branding, customization, functionality, and accessibility.
- Branding: Can you alter the system to reflect your employer brand, including colors, logos, wording, and style? Branding helps employees to begin establishing familiarity and trust with your company.
- Customization: Can you customize the onboarding system, processes, and text to reflect your onboarding journey and company culture?
- Functionality: Can the system do everything you want it to? For example, virtual signatures, eLearning modules, forms, and quizzes?
- Accessibility: Can the system be accessed remotely, and are updates automatically delivered?
Once you adopt a system and implement your onboarding journey, it’s time to test the process. Use a group of testers, including existing employees, outside experts, and even willing new starters, to trial the system.
Use their feedback to make edits and adjustments before you go live.
Congratulations, you’ve launched online onboarding, but it’s not over yet. Regularly seek feedback from new starters on how they find the process and how you can improve it for the better – the learning never stops when it comes to your new starters.
10 tools for making your business more remote
We’re rounding out this article with a few tools to help supercharge your business beyond just onboarding. Months ago, remote working was considered a perk. Today’s it’s a necessity. But that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit or thrive from remote ways of working.
If you haven’t yet embraced remote business practices, or your tools aren’t producing the results you need, we’ve curated a list of the top tools for successfully making your business more remote now and in the future.
However, making your business remote requires more than issuing a laptop and work phone. You need the right tools for maintaining and boosting productivity, performance, and profits.
Employee communication tools
Maintaining communication with your remote workforce is important for morale, performance, and knowing what everyone is up to. Google Meet and Microsoft Teams are both great for running professional video conferences and allowing employees to maintain a social connection with each other.
Google Meet is a video conferencing tool that forms part of G Suite. The tool provides a secure way to conduct video conferences via a URL link accessible on a computer, mobile phone, or tablet. Each meeting also comes with a dial-in number for anyone wanting to connect by phone, and users can use the instant messaging functionality to send private or group messages.
Note: Google is providing free access to its advanced Google Meet tool for G Suite customers until September 30, 2020.
Microsoft Teams is a video conferencing tool that forms part of the Office 365 suite. Users of Microsoft Teams can run secure video conferencing, as well as access instant messaging, group chats, and file storage.
Team collaboration tools
It’s important that you reduce video conference meetings and emails as much as possible when making your business more remote – it just saps away at productivity. However, you still need a way for your teams to collaborate.
Slack is a team collaboration tool for keeping remote teams more productive and aligned without overflowing their inboxes. Managers can create separate channels for different teams, projects, or clients. Messages, documents, and real-time conversations are then contained within these channels, making it easy for employees to share ideas, upload documents, and search for relevant information.
Google Drive makes it easy to collaborate on documents and other files in real-time. The secure cloud storage facility lets users create, share, and collaborate on documents anywhere and in real-time, including spreadsheets and slides. Features include task assignment, access controls, advanced search, and compatibility with Trello and Asana.
Project management tools
Project management is often described as a visual process, but that doesn’t mean you need to physically see your team to run successful projects.
Trello is a simple project management tool that achieves big results. Managers can create boards, lists, and cards to visually map projects, assign tasks, and upload relevant documents. Trello also comes with built-in workflow automation that you can use to create rule-based triggers and commands that increase efficiency and remove tedious tasks from your team’s to-do list.
Asana describes itself as a work management platform for planning, structuring, and visualizing all project work. Project leaders can create projects, assign tasks, set priorities, and create deadlines so that everyone is on the same page. Asana has recently released a new automation feature for creating workflow rules, building custom templates, and automatically updating full project schedules when a single date changes.
Productivity is a huge concern for businesses looking to become more remote. However, there are tools for tracking and even enhancing productivity.
Time Doctor is a time tracking tool that monitors productivity among teams. Managers have access to a breakdown of how much time employees spend on specific tasks, projects, and clients, as well as how much time is lost through meetings, telephone calls, and non-essential tasks. On-screen alerts can also be set to prevent employees from procrastinating and to prompt managers to conduct a welfare check when someone doesn’t log on when they should.
Todoist is a powerful task management tool that can be used by individuals, teams, or whole companies to enhance productivity. Employees can create simple to-do lists or use more advanced task management features such as recurring dates, task priorities, labels, and tracking.
It’s not just your employees and projects that must be adequately tooled for remote working; your customers need support too, especially if you’re removing in-person touchpoints.
Zendesk is a customer support platform that powers remote customer service support. It comes with an array of features, including ticketing forms, phone, chat, email, and social media support that can be accessed remotely by teams.
Hubspot is a CRM system that ensures you provide an adequate level of contact, support, and care for your customers, even when working away from the office. Managers can align Hubspot to reflect their team structure, giving every user remote access to the right content, tasks, and reminders.
That’s a long list of tools to consider, and what you don’t want is to swamp your teams with so many tools that it becomes counterproductive to work remotely. If you’re using more than two of these tools, consider using an integration platform such as Zapier to integrate your platforms, automate tasks, and make remote work even more productive.
You spend a lot of time and money attracting talent to your company – don’t allow your onboarding process to let you down at the final hurdle. Online onboarding can transform your onboarding process from a necessity into an exciting introduction to your company.