We Hired a Remote Worker. How Can We Ensure a Smooth Onboarding Experience?

Recruiting and hiring talent and ensuring a smooth onboarding process to welcome and assimilate them to your company culture and connect them with existing workers was already challenging prior to the pandemic. Now those problems seem to pale in comparison to the issues we face in the ongoing time of COVID-19. Finding workers who are simply willing and hopefully able to do the job while juggling their own struggles at home with remote learning, quarantines and other potential work interruptions has become a elusive quest that many employers find themselves embarking upon.

More workers are seeking remote opportunities and employers who were previously accustomed to having all or most of their staff working in house are pivoting to adapt their existing policies, processes and technology to welcome the much-needed help into their fold. And even if you are hiring someone who will be working in-person, you may be wondering about ways to streamline and complete a more socially-distance process to gather required information from your new employee.

Here are some things to consider when bringing on new hires:

Promote Safety and Security As a Top Priority

The first thing to bear in mind with onboarding a remote employee is to ensure that their information is handled safely and securely. Your employees first interactions with your company can create a lasting impression and if it is a bad one, it could mean they either will not return or will quickly seek employment elsewhere. Requesting that an employee simply email you secure information such as social security numbers, birthdate, dependent information, etc. can be a sure way to make a bad first impression.

Most states have laws in place regarding the protection of personal data and breaches including fines for those who mishandle information. In some states, like California, there are even laws in place that make it illegal for employers to request that personal information like social security numbers be sent via mail or in other communications.

You should provide new hires and other employees with a secure means of transmitting personal protected information for W-4s, I-9s and other new hire documents.  This can be accomplished either by utilizing a cloud-based comprehensive recruiting and onboarding platform or having digital employee onboarding forms for payroll, like those now offered and currently being piloted by CheckmateHCM as part of our NEW Digital ESS Payroll-Only new hire services with our payroll software and service. Or make sure you are utilizing a secure third-party service for sending the information and/or larger files containing data for multiple employees.

Ensure Ease of Use

Let’s face it, completing and using paper forms is something everyone finds cumbersome. In addition to being time-consuming to complete and then transmit, it also creates opportunity for manual keying errors when HR, payroll staff or managers have to take the information and then enter it into the applicable systems. When you utilize online onboarding, employees can be assigned an initial role that lets them enter the information themselves and then double check it before submitting and electronically signing any needed forms. An employee is much more likely to catch a needed correction in their own personal information than another person. With a solution like CheckmateHCM, once the data is entered, it can then populate to all required fields within the software rather than having to be keyed in multiple times in redundant fields or systems. This can be a huge time savings and can also help avoid possible payroll issues that can be costly.

As with any system, you or a colleague should test whatever processes you have in place to see what the end-user will experience. This can help you determine any tweaks that may need to be made in order to make your sure your process is straightforward and fairly quick and easy.

Be Flexible and Allow More Time

As we all know, everyone is dealing with significantly more interruptions these days than in past years. It is important to make sure that whatever process you have in place for bringing on a new remote employee or other new hires should permit them to stop where they are and save their information. There is nothing worse than having to redo something because you had to step away briefly to deal with something. Even if you process takes only 5 minutes, this is still critical and is also beneficial to companies who are focused on productivity.

Even the most simple tasks may take a bit more time due to disruptions, COVID protocols, new technology or other reasons. You may need to adjust your own expectations and estimates for how long something should take to make certain you are not putting unreasonable stress on your new hire.

Do Your Best to Still Make It Personalized

Our world right now can feel pretty isolating. This can be even more pronounced for a remote employee. He or she will likely not have the opportunity to interact personally with co-workers and management since the majority of interviews and other interactions will be done by phone, video conference or email. Try to be creative in your interactions and maybe add a field that asks about their favorite food then see if you can arrange to have that delivered to their home and schedule a meet-and-greet video conference with their team so they can all “enjoy a meal together” while getting to know one another. Be sure to provide a list of phone numbers and emails for people they can reach out to with questions. Have managers schedule regular check-in calls to make sure they have what they need. A little thought can go a long way in making people feel connected even if it has to be virtually or at six feet away for now.

Encourage Candor

Let your employee know the obvious – right now we are all faced with doing things we have never done before. Ensure them that you value their input and honesty regarding their experiences in bringing them onboard and are willing to consider any suggestions that they might have to improving your process for future new hires and/or make improvements to their experience. Making them feel that their contributions are valuable and that mistakes on both sides are to be expected and a willingness to work through it together will go a long way in making them feel included. Everything we are all dealing with right now is a bit flawed in some way and it is definitely okay to admit it.

Be Consistent (As Much As You Can)

Even in these turbulent times where the way we do business is in constant flux, it is still important to try to maintain some sense of consistency. This helps ensure that, for the most part, your employees receive a similar experience in the onboarding and you don’t miss important compliance requirements. Get a copy of our Employee Onboarding Checklist to help you stay on track by clicking the button below.

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