Off-site onboarding can present challenges — and the opportunity to innovate.
The typical American employer spends about $4,000 and 24 days bringing on a new team member — and that’s just an average.1 The cost of a bad onboarding experience and subsequent turnover can set the employer back an average of 16-20% of that employee’s salary.2
When the onboarding process must be done remotely, the stakes can be even higher. Some businesses were already using virtual onboarding prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but now that trend has accelerated across industries. There are challenges inherent to social distancing — but there are also some unique benefits and opportunities to innovate.
A company that invests in onboarding is investing in its future. By innovating the onboarding experience and developing a remote model, companies can still give new employees the tools they need to thrive in their new role and contribute to the organization’s success. Here are a few thoughts on how to make the shift:
What effective onboarding means for your business
When it comes to welcoming and training new employees, first impressions matter. According to Glassdoor, effective onboarding can improve employee retention by up to 82% and productivity by more than 70%.¹
There’s room for companies to shine here by leaning into their onboarding operations. According to one poll, only 12% of workers thought their organization had a great onboarding process.¹ A bad experience makes new hires much more likely to look for a new job ³ — and the company more likely to go back to the hiring drawing board. The research is clear. New employees who go through effective onboarding build better relationships with their coworkers while becoming more productive and staying at the company longer.³ Whatever the communication method, a structured, systematic onboarding process works.
The challenges in remote onboarding
Some businesses have experience with remote onboarding for employees who work in person but get onboarded remotely from corporate headquarters. However, as workers moved en masse to a work-from-home setup, many companies faced a new challenge: remotely onboarding all employees. In both of these scenarios, it’s important to make the virtual connection stick.
Many aspects of joining a company that make the onboarding process so critical become more challenging remotely. From immersion in company culture to learning from colleagues, the assimilation process can be more difficult when employees never get to be there in person. These experiences can have a huge impact on performance as well as job satisfaction, so it’s important for companies to innovate and adapt their onboarding processes to compensate for these challenges.
Opportunities to reimagine a more effective onboarding
Every challenge brings an opportunity. In this case, remote onboarding could help companies identify gaps in their onboarding processes or present an opportunity to formalize the process if it previously hasn’t been.
Companies can innovate in many ways to meet the challenges presented by remote onboarding and create a better experience for all involved. Here are a few key areas to consider:
Deliver an onboarding packet. Include all the essential paperwork and information employees need, supplementary training materials, branded notepads, and other office supplies in a custom box to set them up for success.
Send communications from leadership. While remote employees may miss face time with executives, company leaders can still reach out meaningfully. A letter or personalized note included in an onboarding packet can go a long way in making an employee feel welcome.
Share your culture. Welcome new workers with branded swag such as keychains, coffee mugs, and apparel. This will help them feel like part of the team.
Re-train the trainers. Help the people who train new hires effectively communicate and connect remotely. This may be a new skill for them, so invest in training on the technologies and skills needed to teach at a distance.
Assign a mentor. Foster camaraderie with a new worker by pairing them remotely with a tenured team member. They can use technology to build the foundation for a beneficial work relationship — and they’ll have someone to show them the ropes outside of their official training.
Make it a game. We all know work doesn’t have to be boring. Set up games to help break the ice and share the company culture. Many businesses have even developed actual game boards for employee onboarding.4 You can have personalized company boards printed and sent to new hires and play the game via Zoom for a virtual interactive experience. This will help you get to know the new employee better while providing a fun, instructive learning method.
Why remote onboarding might be here to stay
In addition to the challenges, virtual onboarding has its share of positives. It is more affordable, as it cuts down on travel costs. It also allows new hires to learn at their own pace if pre-recorded videos or multiple onboarding sessions are offered.
The training timeline may be more flexible, too, since it doesn’t have to be completed in the short time employees would typically be on-site at corporate headquarters for onboarding. This means you can engage new hires with multiple touchpoints over a period of several months by distributing several rounds of company literature, workbooks, and training materials rather than piling them on all at once.
How to navigate new challenges and opportunities
You can help new employees feel more integrated from the start with the help of a trusted commercial print provider. FedEx Office’s nationwide print and logistics network helps you ensure that your company has the materials you need to welcome and retain new employees. More than that, our team of print consultants can help support your company as it works to implement effective remote onboarding. When so much is uncertain, you need materials and people you can count on for consistency and quality.
To discover more articles like this on the benefits of creating a commercial print program, visit our Knowledge Center.
1. Glassdoor. (July 5, 2019). “How to Calculate Cost-Per-Hire.”
2. Hireology. (2020). “The Costs of Poor Onboarding.”
3. CareerBuilder. (July 18, 2017). “Study: Only 50% of Small Businesses Have a Structured Onboarding Process.”
4. Train Like a Champion. (2017). “New Employee Orientation Game.”