The first jobs report of 2021 is out, and while it isn’t all good news, there are reasons to be hopeful: U.S. employers added 49,000 jobs in January and the unemployment rate fell to 6.3%. While some companies are in a holding pattern, others are actually in the midst of hiring surges.
It’s a uniquely challenging time for vetting candidates and onboarding new employees. At Limeade, we talk a lot about how the employee experience starts with a person’s first interactions with the company — and onboarding is top of that list in importance. But how should fully remote companies translate in-person onboarding processes into virtual settings, ensuring that employees feel cared for and that their well-being matters?
A Comprehensive Approach to Well-Being Starts Early
A great employee experience starts with companies showing they care about employees as whole people — their physical, emotional, financial and work well-being. It’s also impacted by factors like company culture, resources and leaders and managers. All of this matters day one, so how can companies, especially managers, show they care and follow through early and often for new remote hires?
How Companies can Elevate Employee Well-Being in Virtual Onboarding Processes
1. Make some meaningful day one plans, and communicate them prior
Team lunches, happy hours, little welcome gifts — these are all crucial moments in a new employee’s experience. Don’t forgo them due to distance. Make day one feel special and ensure your new employee knows what to expect in terms of meetings, conversations and work.
2. Don’t schedule two solid days of virtual information sessions
Even in person, these onboarding sessions are overwhelming. Video calls will only amplify that feeling. Revisit your processes and consider a phased approach, rather than a week-long sprint. Some education needs to happen early, but it’s also likely that you can defer some items for one month in, three months in and so on. And like the day one plans above, just let your new hires know what to expect.
3. Learn who your new hire is as a person
You can’t show employees you care about their well-being without getting to know them. As a fully remote employee, managers won’t see family pictures on desks or discuss books or TV in passing. Blend fun, informal surveys ( Hobbies? Favorite foods?) and employee communications tools with direct, intentional conversations — encourage managers to start every 1:1 and smaller team meeting with 5 minutes of chatting, not work.
4. Drop casual “intro” meetings on calendars and forward upcoming company culture invites
The first week or so at a new job usually involves stopping by desks with your manager to meet new coworkers. It’s what makes people feel part of the team and in the know. Over the course of the first month, plan out the introductions — some will need to be immediate, but others can come later. And make sure that upcoming events (all company meetings, DEI sessions, lunch and learns) are on new employee calendars.
5. Have a leader reach out
Leader interaction and engagement is important — in 2017, only 45% of U.S. employees said their senior leaders created trust and confidence. An engaged, thoughtful leader does a lot to instill confidence. Encourage leaders to check in on new employees, helping them feel welcomed and most importantly, letting them know how important their role is — purpose means a lot.
6. Communicate how you plan to support your new employee’s career
In a new job, it’s important to know that you can grow with the company. Employers should start these conversations early, clarifying career bands, offering professional development opportunities and more. There are so many great online resources available — invest in some ready-made tools to support employees in their professional and personal interests.