The shift to remote working has seen many office traditions replaced with virtual alternatives, the ‘first day’ being one of them. The excitement of sitting at your desk for the first time and meeting your new team can be dulled when you’re sitting alone in your home office. A strong onboarding process is key to helping your new team members fully understand your company ethos, mission and values, and understand their place in the company. Perhaps most importantly, a good onboarding experience can make a new employee feel welcome.
The importance of onboarding can’t be underestimated; companies with a strong onboarding process improve new hire retention by 82%. If companies want to continue to attract and retain the best talent, remote onboarding needs to become part of an official process, rather than a temporary fix. With many businesses making home or hybrid working a long-term change, we’re witnessing a huge population shift and a move away from big cities. London’s population is predicted to fall in 2021 for the first time in more than 30 years. Popping in for an introduction and a first day lunch won’t be feasible for those living hundreds of miles from their new HQ.
The average onboarding experience consists of 54 activities, mixing formal workshops, training sessions and exercises with informal shadowing sessions, lunches or ‘get to know you’ chats. It can be difficult to replicate all of these online, but it’s important to strike a good balance of informative and fun.
Creating a plan for onboarding is the most important step. Without a well thought out plan, new hires can feel lost and hiring managers can lose track of what’s been covered. Splitting your onboarding programme into company-wide, and role or team specific activities can help give your onboarding structure.
SharePoint is great for storing company-wide materials like employee handbooks, mission statements, and brand guidelines. Making these resources easy to find and ensuring new team members have access is a sure-fire way to make sure new employees can get up to speed on what your company is all about. Plus, it’s just as important to keep these resources in an easy–to–find location so any employee can refer back as and when they need to. If you want your team to live and breathe your company values, they need to be central and accessible, not buried in a maze of document folders.
Microsoft even has pre-designed templates for onboarding sites. You can choose from pre-onboarding, corporate onboarding and departmental onboarding, and customise the templates to fit the needs of your business with pages like preparing for your first day, meet the team and who we are. Using templates can be a great way to stay organised, and ensure a consistent onboarding experience for every new starter.
For role or team specific tasks and resources, Microsoft Teams has got you covered. Using the Files tab in a chat or team to store and organise important documents helps keep everything in one place. Using Files can make it easy for new hires to locate the things that will be important to them on a daily basis, without getting lost in other teams’ folders and resources. You could even create an ‘Onboarding’ folder in your Files tab, so whenever someone new joins your team the resources are ready to go.
Teams can also help you organise your onboarding schedule. Using Planner in Teams, you can create to-do lists for new starters to help prevent them from feeling too overwhelmed. In your first weeks of a new job, it’s easy to feel like there’s a never-ending list of things to learn and tasks to complete. Having it broken down into easy to manage lists in Planner can help new team members feel at ease. Using board view, you can break to-do lists down by topic. This can help new employees get to grips with the different areas of their new role. Or in schedule view, you can create an onboarding calendar with a task list for each day. Creating task lists before a new employee joins are key for keeping engagement levels high. It’s easy for onboarding to fall off track when hiring managers are pulled into unexpected meetings or become too overwhelmed with their own workload. Equally, working remotely means new starters are often left to their own devices. With Planner, new hires can work through their to-do lists at their own pace without needing a constant helping hand.
Getting to know your colleagues is just as important as getting to know your new job. When joining a new company remotely, it can be difficult to build connections, get to ‘meet’ everyone, or even remember everyone’s names. If you’re a large company employing lots of new staff on a regular basis, why not make use of live events in Teams to host new employee welcome sessions. Whether it’s monthly, or quarterly, hosting live events is a great way for new starters to hear from the big bosses, interact with people outside of their team, and feel like part of a community.
Making use of Yammer can also help foster a community feeling. Adding new hires to Yammer groups that align with their values and interests can help them find other like-minded individuals to build connections with outside of their team. Especially with remote onboarding, Yammer groups can be a great way to help replicate those ‘water cooler moments’, and get conversations flowing.
Your onboarding process doesn’t need to be an immovable process. What worked for your team during the pandemic might not work as a long-term solution, and what worked in a physical office almost certainly won’t in a remote or hybrid setting. The key is to ask for feedback, and listen to it. Using Microsoft Forms, you can ask your new hires what they thought – what they loved, what they’d change, and ideas they’ve perhaps seen in previous roles. As your business grows and evolves so do your business processes, and onboarding is part of that. Encouraging open dialogue and being open to change can be a great way to keep your onboarding fresh, increase employee happiness and engagement, and attract new talent.
Starting a new job can be exciting, daunting and overwhelming, and starting a new job remotely doesn’t make it any less of a big deal. Helping your new hires to feel engaged, happy and welcome can be the start of a positive, productive working relationship. For more information on how Microsoft can help your onboarding programme, get in touch.