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Tackle the Challenge of Onboarding Remote Employees

February 4, 2020
iCIMS Staff
4 min read

Key Points:

  • Remote work opportunities continue to increase and become more valued by candidates
  • Companies face a new challenge in onboarding remote hires and combating candidate ghosting
  • Employee onboarding software with preboarding capabilities lessens the risk of candidate ghosting and sets remote hires up for success

Remote work does not appear to be a fad. In fact, the numbers show that it’s here to stay.

According to a report by FlexJobs, remote work has grown by 44% since 2014. Nearly 4.7 million Americans work remotely, and 80% of workers say that, with all else being equal between competing job offers, they would accept a position that offered flexibility over one that didn’t.

Businesses see the impact of remote work as well: 85% of workers have seen their productivity increase because of flexible working situations, which explains why half of all employees globally work outside the office at least 2.5 days a week.

85% of workers have seen their productivity increase because of flexible working situations.
Credit: The Annual IWG Global Workplace Survey, 2019

The challenge of onboarding remote employees

That being said, organizations face a new challenge: how to properly onboard remote hires to make them feel like part of the team while also improving engagement and retention.

Traditional onboarding occurs in the office during the first days or weeks of an employee’s tenure. Forms are filled out, introductions are made, and the employee gets immersed in the company culture. While some companies may fly remote employees to their headquarters for onboarding, this is not a realistic option for most organizations – especially global organizations.

The answer lies in employee onboarding software, which can keep new hires engaged during the “preboarding” period – the time between accepting the job and their first day – and virtually immerse new hires from anywhere in the world in the company culture.

How employee onboarding software keeps remote hires engaged

Once you’ve extended offers to remote hires, it’s critical to continue providing them a stellar candidate experience and to ensure that they’re not in danger of ghosting. Candidate ghosting affects in-person and remote hires equally, but recruiters probably feel a little more anxiety when recruiting someone they’ve never met face to face.

Enter preboarding, which keeps new hires engaged and gives recruiters new insights and tools to combat ghosting.

Employee onboarding software can be programed to engage new hires with welcome messages and videos as well as giving them the opportunity to fill out employment forms before the first day of work. These tasks make the right first impression on candidates and make them feel prepared for their role before the first day, which is critical for remote hires.

Recruiters, meanwhile, benefit greatly from “at-risk” threshold notifications that keep them informed of a remote new hire’s status during preboarding. If they see that the new hire hasn’t filled out forms or completed tasks, the recruiters can take a proactive stance to engage the new hire and assess the risk of the individual’s not reporting to work on the first day.

Remote employee preboarding checklist

Providing more information about your company and what new employees can expect will also go a long way toward keeping remote hires engaged during preboarding, especially if you give them a list of resources tailored specifically for remote work. Here are a few items to keep in mind for your remote employee preboarding checklist:

  • While flexible schedules are a key differentiator of remote jobs, it’s important to set an expectation for times when employees need to be online and engaged. Providing a schedule to remote hires that tells them when team meetings and working sessions typically occur can take much of the guesswork out of creating a flexible schedule.
  • A list of collaboration tools and a crash course on how to use them is a great way to get remote workers up to speed – especially if they’ve never worked remotely before – and to ease concerns about how teamwork is achieved in a remote setting.
  • IT support is crucial for remote workers, especially if they’re using their own hardware on the job. An IT team that’s focused on remote security and knows its way around remote technology will pay huge dividends if you go all in on remote work.

Want to learn more about the onboarding process and how preboarding protects your investment in new hires? Check out Great Onboarding Kickstarts Employee Engagement and Retention.


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