11 employee onboarding best practices in hybrid workplaces

May 17, 2021
We asked HR leaders and small business owners for their best advice on how to onboard hybrid employees.
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‍‍To help you onboard employees in a hybrid workplace, we asked HR leaders and small business owners this question for their best insights. From offering the same experience for office and remote workers to implementing an onboarding buddy program, there are several tips that may help you onboard remote workers.Here are 11 best practices for employee onboarding in a hybrid workplace.

Offer the same experience for office and remote workers

If you've made the switch to a hybrid workplace, with workers coming into the office part time, full time, or not at all - now is a good time to review your onboarding process. One thing we've found has helped new hires, is trying to give everyone the same experience when they onboard - whether they work in the office or from home. One method we've employed are virtual meet and greets with new hires via video calls. When remote employees first join, they may not get the same experience from home as it would be in the office with tours and walk-ups. A virtual meet and greet let's new hires meet the team and to put a face to the people they'll be working with. Another powerful tool for hybrid teams are branded backgrounds for Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, etc. With company-branded backgrounds, clients and partners will have the same experience communicating with you whether you are in the office or working from home. Be sure to design and distribute branded backgrounds to new hires.

Colton De Vos, Resolute Technology Solutions

Add a non-virtual element to hybrid onboarding

It's easy to have someone onboard and have all of their interactions be online. It's important to add a non-virtual element so that there's more to their experience than sitting in front of a computer screen. Have new team members come in for one day to meet others or pick up their equipment. Or send them a swag box as a welcome gift. Have lunch delivered to their house so they can participate in a virtual lunch hour with other new team members. Give them some sort of a physical experience to reduce some of the "virtual distance" they may experience as a new employee.

Logan Mallory, Motivosity

Emphasize culture and people

The most challenging part of integrating a new team member in a hybrid workplace is communicating your workplace culture and helping them form bonds and connections with coworkers. Both of these are crucial to make new hires feel included and like they belong in your company, and have a significant impact on how likely they are to stick around long-term. While it is important that new hires understand how to do their job and use company systems, the majority of your onboarding should be focused on these more intangible aspects of the role, things that can’t be conveyed in training manuals or explained in an email.

Archie Payne, Caltek Staffing

Onboard in groups for growth

Create a schedule that allows you to onboard more than one employee at a time. It helps new hires get to know each other, connect with staff from other teams, and meet those individuals who work remotely most of the time. It’s similar to the first day of “school” - you get to meet the other students in class. You meet co-workers, who become friends, and these become the people you collaborate with and can depend on.

Jessica Arias, OnPay Payroll Services

Create a self-guided onboarding experience

Our company has developed a self-guided onboarding experience for new hires to compliment the more traditional onboarding sessions that everyone goes through. It’s built around a series of questions they need to investigate related to the work of the organization as a whole. In order to find answers to these questions they set up meetings with team members within their direct team and across the wider organization.An example question could be “why is customer service so crucial to our business?” In order to find the answer, the new hire would need to set up a meeting with someone in the customer service department. This onboarding experience reflects my belief that every employee needs to understand, at least at a higher level, the different aspects of our business. I’ve found that this technique leads to more confident and independent new employees, and helps them to quickly integrate into the wider organization.

Andreyana Kulina, Brosix

Use the right tools

In hybrid settings, expecting users to navigate new tools without proper guidance can be an arduous task leading to a litany of mistakes down the line. Setting your company up with a digital adoption platform will not only provide on-screen guidance but can ensure the user has a measurable and human error-free method of explaining them thoroughly well beyond the onboarding process. Additionally, it provides quizzes and in-depth information that one can revert back to at a later time if they need to go back and further digest the new knowledge without bothering a team leader for more explanation. Finally, the company itself can rely on the platform as a metric by which to measure how adept your team is at adopting these tools and handling the remote workstyle.

Mitzi Runyan, Lashlette

Send quick surveys

Check-in with your employees to understand how they're feeling about the job. For example, send quick surveys at the end of their first month and then their trial period. You can ask questions related to the company culture, how confident they feel at the job, do they feel they are getting enough support, etc. Surveys tend to be less personal than one-on-one conversations, so an employee might feel more comfortable sharing their real opinion. With the information from surveys, you can personalize the onboarding process for everyone while improving your overall strategy based on collective feedback.

Georgi Todorov, thrivemyway

Provide portable equipment

When onboarding new employees that are working hybrid, it’s vital that they have the right equipment at home as well in the office. Simply asking them if they have a computer at home is not enough. You need to ensure they have a computer that is capable of running programs they will need to complete their work. Make sure you know the specifications of their existing equipment if you are not going to be providing any equipment. You can also supply them with a laptop or other equipment that is portable between the office and their home.

Maegan Griffin, Skin Pharm

Create a socialization plan

When people think of onboarding, they often think of the technical aspects of the job. However, the social aspects of the process are just as important. To help new employees feel like they belong in your remote workplace, create a socialization plan. This plan should include activities such as virtual happy hours and water cooler conversations. It should also include opportunities for employees to get to know one another on a personal level.

Cody Crawford, Low Offset

Set up 1-on-1 meetings

Set up 1:1 meetings with team members, especially ones that will be crucial for the new employee. Having new employees meet with team members who can give more insight into their respective roles, how they'll be working together and how their priorities are connected is a great way to cement cooperative ties and knowledge. While some meetings may be brief and introductory, you could also use them as an opportunity to provide training if necessary. Remember that it's best not to overwhelm one person by getting them to provide all the training. Multiple people can pass down the knowledge to the new employee. This results in a win-win situation as your team will be able to manage their workflow better, and the new employee will get a more in-depth understanding of what they'll be doing in their new role. If you want to take it a step further and make it even more comprehensive, have HR set up brief meetings between new employees and a representative from each department.

Nicole Ostrowska, Zety

Implement an onboarding buddy program

One best practice for employee onboarding in a hybrid workplace is to implement an "onboarding buddy program". This means simply assigning each new employee an onboarding buddy - the first point of contact. These experienced employees assist and navigate the new hires during their first weeks in a company. Whether working from the office or home, onboarding buddies are there to support new employees. Their job is to answer all questions, explain the position requirements and provide insight into the written and unwritten rules of the office. Onboarding buddies make the process of adjusting to a new job easier. They ensure that the employee does not feel left behind without support and any plan of action.

Agata Szczepanek, MyPerfectResume

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This post was written by one of the many writers at Envoy who are passionate about helping educate and inspire workplace leaders. We cover everything from the visitor and employee experience, to space and delivery management, to the workplace tech-stack that keeps it all running.

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