Tips for Onboarding New Employees in a Remote Setting

As businesses gradually recover from the current global situation, they will inevitably need to bring on new employees. Those of us in the hardwood lumber industry are no exception. So how does that look for us in this era where many of these new hires will either be recruited in a remote manner or serve in a remote position once hired? How can we ensure that a new hire will be ready to hit the ground running in a short period of time?

We have been analyzing and researching this a lot lately. Whether it is office personnel, employees in our hardwood sawmills, lumber handlers in our concentration yards, or even new additions to our forestry teams, changing the way we handle onboarding employees has been a key area for us to explore. Here are several remote employee onboarding concepts we believe could be helpful. onboardingemployees

  • Virtual workplace tour, in which a new employee gains a digital understanding of the workplace environment they will be participating in.
  • Regularly scheduled video calls with department managers, supervisors, and co-workers to keep communication paths open
  • Concierge-style service talks with Human Resources to explain benefits plans and answer in-depth program questions
  • Formal daily progress “check-ins” that offer a new hire the chance to discuss what’s worked thus far in onboarding, and where improvements can be made in the future.

 As you can see, we find it helpful to engage our newest employees on (or sometimes well before) day #1 on the job. And with the various different types of employees, we need to hire to operate effectively in the hardwood lumber industry techniques and frequency vary greatly. However, we do find that these basic approaches from experts in the field seem to help. 

Make your expectations crystal-clear. 

Prepare to greet your new employee. It’s important to greet your new enthusiastic employees with a clear understanding of what’s expected of them, starting on day #1, especially if you are remote from one another. Often the new employee’s direct report is well-placed to have this conversation and to answer any work-related questions the new hire may have, but consider a special remote greeter of some sort to make the introduction process as smooth as possible. 

Provide all relevant orientation and training materials. 

Don’t wait until the first day or week to provide crucial materials to your new employee. All such company documents—handbooks, job training, and other materials—can be electronically distributed digitally well in advance of the first day. This provides the newcomer with important information about how things work within the company, and guidelines for acceptable behavior (even if he or she is remotely placed). 

Help them get to know the team. 

Remote workers are part of a team and should, therefore, have every opportunity to get to know others within the organization. It’s both a useful onboarding and retention tool. Consider hosting or prearranging video calls for new employees to meet other coworkers. 

“Introducing them to other team members … helps build relationships that are important to job satisfaction and performance,” notes CultureIQ. Bonus tip: “Connect the new employee with veteran team members in a mentoring relationship,” so they better grasp business culture and vision. 

Ensure receipt and understanding of digital resources. 

Valuable time is sometimes wasted when a new hire lacks an understanding of the digital tools they will be using. Prior to the actual onboarding process, decide what resources are needed for the new hire’s position, and ensure they are tested and delivered in advance of day #1. Also, be sure to include the proper user names and passwords required. If neglected it could be a real sense of confusion and frustration for a new employee! 

Harvard Business School Working Knowledge suggests assigning an IT member to each new hire, “someone who will be responsible for ensuring they have quick seamless access to all the resources they need … and introducing them to the new tools at their disposal.” 

Assess how well the remote onboarding process works. 

Some businesses, which could also include some of us in the hardwood lumber industry, find ourselves in “uncharted territory” when it comes to onboarding remote employees. I know for us here at Baillie Lumber, this was not a common process for us in the past. For this reason, consider having your HR team should carefully monitor and record the process for every new hire, to determine where onboarding works well and where it might fall short. With this information, a new set of “best practices” will emerge that could help guide you towards a more fruitful and engaging new hire orientation process in the future. 

Have you or your organization changed the way you have conducted your onboarding process? What have you found to be effective? Let us know, we would love to hear your thoughts!

 

Teddy Royal
Baillie Lumber
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

 

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