Fun Fact: only about 12% of organizations provide an onboarding process for new hires that more or less doesn’t absolutely suck.
Here’s how to make sure your remote onboarding process is solid, because as you’ll see, proper onboarding makes a world of difference to your workplace (and your bottom line).
Hi, I’m Mandy, and here are Two Truths and a Lie:
- I recently began onboarding at ClickUp.
- I, like many new hires, would love to never again have to do a “Two Truths and a Lie” on my first day.
- I’m really a spaceworm from Saturn.
Luckily for me and my fellow newbies at ClickUp, we got to skip the sudden amnesia that comes after being asked to share a “Fun Fact” about yourself at work along with the stress of deciding where the line between “truth” and “humblebrag” is when you do. Instead, I was asked to simply state my name, my title, and my favorite Disney movie. It was truly A Whole New World.
But stress-free personal prompts are just the tip of the icebreaker-berg. Let a new hire with some serious remote onboarding experience take you through how to really make your latest team members feel at home (while working from home!)
- 1. Revisit the current employee onboarding process
- 2. Encourage 1:1’s
- 3. Focus on educating on the company first, roles second
- 3. Give it more than a week.
- 4. Plan for the novelty to wear off
- 5. Foster a culture of kindness
- TLDR; If you enjoy lowering costs and making more money, do not sleep on proper onboarding.
1. Revisit the current employee onboarding process
According to a study by Gallup, a whopping 88% of organizations don’t onboard well, which is too bad for them since the organizations that do onboard well improve new hire retention by 82% (and we have proof that higher retention equals maximum profits)!
So how does a fast-growing tech company that also loves maximizing profits (like, say, ClickUp) approach onboarding? From my hands-on experience, they approach it the same way anyone should approach running a business: you need to evolve as you grow or you’ll be left in the dust.
According to Kathryn Recchia, ClickUp’s dedicated, people-loving Training and Development Manager, these are the most crucial parts of the onboarding checklist to keep each new employee happy, confident, and motivated:
- Tip 1: Make sure everything is automated and streamlined. 🗃️
There must be processes in place for stuff like how to get a new remote hire equipment, what to put in the welcome emails before their first day, or when to give a new team member access to the tools they need. The more people you onboard at once, the more you’ll need to stay on top of every detail.
- Tip 2: Get hands-on! 👋
Giving a new hire a bunch of reading material and a few hours to explore their new company or the tools they’ll be using isn’t enough! Include fun tasks in onboarding that let new hires demonstrate their understanding of new processes, software, and more.
- Tip 3: Take a survey from current employees. ✅
You need to know the pain points most people have with onboarding before you can address them, so let the people speak! Are most people confused about tech and tools? Are they needing all new resources to be in one place instead of in a ton of emails? Ask ’em! Take a look at the Calendar for my first week of onboarding, if you will. Observe how things are spaced apart with plenty of time between meetings to allow us to explore, start tasks, and most importantly, breathe:
Lesson: As a company evolves, so must their onboarding process.
2. Encourage 1:1’s
Jumping into a new position and culture can be overwhelming (to say the least) when you’re dealing with a ton of new people at once—especially when you’re trying to meet your new colleagues remotely! In fact, studies show that increasing one-on-one time through onboarding buddy programs or two-person video chats is an onboarding practice that 87% of organizations say boosts new hire proficiency.
One of my onboarding tasks at ClickUp was to simply reach out to each of my teammates to set up quick 1:1’s to say hello and ask a few questions. While this is a given when you’re physically in the office, it’s easy to let personal introductions fall by the wayside when onboarding remotely, which can insidiously pile into feelings of detachment. Being tasked with 1:1 chats with my remote team ended up being the perfect precursor to diving into the actual teamwork: I was now able to enter with a better understanding of each person’s personality, communication style, and responsibilities that put me in the best possible position to begin contributing.
Plus, I made some new friends that have been a huge help in adjusting to the new job! 😊
Lesson: Don’t assume new hires are all extroverts.
3. Focus on educating on the company first, roles second
Looking back at my onboarding experience for other jobs (including virtual onboarding) I felt as if I was given a quick slideshow painting a vision of the company that the CEO has for seasoned stakeholders, not for a brand new team member. Like, we love hearing about how y’all started in a garage and used to walk ten miles a day to buy staples, but we also love knowing what makes you the company you are today and why we were hired to uphold that!
Based on a 2020 study by Robert Walters, 69% of employees are more likely to stay with a company for three years if they experienced great onboarding. Knowing this, it makes sense for other businesses to do what ClickUp did for me as a new remote employee: help me understand the true in’s and out’s of the entire company so I have context and inspiration for how I can not only perform my duties, but be able to take initiative beyond my daily remote work.
Take a look at one of my tasks to get to know the ClickUp platform:
Onboarding Queen Kathryn revamped ClickUp’s onboarding process by making sure that most of it lived entirely in ClickUp itself, so new hires like me were simultaneously familiarizing ourselves with the product while learning its full history and present. It harkened me back to my days working at ad agencies, where often the agency itself felt like a giant monolith and me just one of the apes figuring out what to do with it. It’s part of why I jumped from agency job to agency job in the first place: if I was onboarded at all, I was never shown what makes this specific place unique or given the tools to understand what going above and beyond in my specific duties in this specific place looks like. So I bounced.
Lesson: People need to know the business before they can know how to be an asset to the business.
3. Give it more than a week.
Our friends at the The Human Capital Institute did a study that observed most companies only focus on Week 1 of onboarding, which gives me flashbacks to jobs where a week of training was considered generous. I can still feel the imposter syndrome that creeped in by Week 2 due to being thrown into a culture and team that felt more like walking into the wrong classroom on your first day of school than walking into work (RIP when we could walk into work).
And I’m not the only one: the majority of employees given just one intensive week of onboarding feel confused, discouraged, and outside of the company culture. This rushed first impression for new hires contributes to those same companies that offer one week of training losing 20% of new hires in the first 45 days.
So what’s the solution? I asked Kathryn for her hot take: 🔥
“On average, we spend about 3 weeks onboarding one person. I’ve had roles where I onboarded for an hour! Onboarding is a crucial part of an employee’s success to ensure they have all the tools that they need to do their job properly and efficiently; if we put the time in now to give an employee the support and safe place to ask questions, they’ll succeed along with the company.”
By my third week of onboarding at ClickUp, I was more than prepared to crush it– and I did it all without stepping foot at my new desk. 💅
Lesson: Put time into onboarding and your employees will give you the time back two-fold.
4. Plan for the novelty to wear off
Like the thrill of a new toy on Christmas morning sputtering out by the New Year, we see time and time again that novelty isn’t a sustainable feeling. Think of onboarding as a plan to not only train new employees right now, but to demonstrate immediate consistency and the potential for long-term growth and success. Your employees will be happier, as will your bottom line.
On Day 4 of my onboarding, comfortably sandwiched hours between a friendly group check-in and a meeting with my new hiring manager, ClickUp CEO Zeb Evans gave a personal Zoom presentation to new hires about the core values of ClickUp. He prefaced this all by reminding us that less than 10% of applicants are moved to the offer phase of the hiring process at this company; it was a simple statistic that instantly changed the way I saw myself at ClickUp: I’m here because I have what others don’t, and I’m gonna prove that I have it in spades.
Don’t be intimidated by the thought of new hires being less productive while onboarding from home: if they’re coming in ready for the long haul, it won’t matter where they’re signing into work.
Lesson: Onboarding should feel like a career milestone, not a training wheels sesh.
5. Foster a culture of kindness
At the end of the day, what makes people feel welcome in a new space is being surrounded by people who are humble, friendly, and supportive– the workplace should be no exception. In fact, Forbes reports that 96% of employees believe showing empathy is an important way to advance employee retention. Preach, Forbes!
During that same onboarding presentation with Zeb, he mentioned that one of ClickUp’s nine core values as a business was “Random Acts of Kindness”, and shared specific instances where ClickUp demonstrated this for its customers, employees, and the whole damn world. It was great to see it in theory, but what soon struck me was just how kind my managers and colleagues were during my onboarding program. The proof was in the very kind pudding.
Now I’m too seasoned a professional gal to forget that at the end of the day, a business is a business, not a family. And that’s okay. But that doesn’t mean that the people running that business should forget that oftentimes respect, kindness, and support are the difference between new remote hires staying and leaving.
Lesson: Don’t forget what it feels like to be the new kid.
TLDR; If you enjoy lowering costs and making more money, do not sleep on proper onboarding.
Onboarding is a new hire’s first impression of their job at a new organization, and you know what they say about first impressions: they matter, and they stick. Ensure your HR department takes this process seriously
One of the first things ClickUp does for new hires is send a great big swag bag to our doorstep filled with all sorts of merch and goodies—a gesture that immediately made me feel excited, grateful, and like I was truly welcome at my new workplace. Check out my haul:
I’m not saying that every company needs to go this hard when it comes to flexing their gift giving capabilities, but every company should consider what a big difference little gestures of generosity go for employee morale. Plus, having a bunch of happy people walking around repping your company’s logo is a smart strategy.
Finally, I’ll leave you with some words of wisdom from Kathryn, answering my final question of, “What do you wish every company knew about successful onboarding?”
“You have to put the time into onboarding, and your employees will give you the time back two-fold! Daily check-ins. Ask them if they feel supported, ask them what they need from you to succeed, give them top priorities of what they should be working on. Set rules, guidelines, and outcomes! How was that? Too wordy? Too salespitch-y?”
It was perfect, Kathryn.
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