Due to the prevailing pandemic situation, there is currently an obligation for companies to offer employees the chance to work from home. High time to start thinking about a digital onboarding process. All the more so when a study by Bitkom shows that this offer is also being used: 25% of the working population are currently working entirely from home, while 20% do so part of the time. It is noticeable that working from home has a positive influence on satisfaction with work. Positive factors are particularly the elimination of the commute and less of the stress associated with this and more time for private things. So expect digital onboarding of new employees in the future and plan for this as an integral process. 

After all, vacant positions have to be filled even in times of the coronavirus, which is particularly challenging considering that the opportunities to get to know candidates are currently severely limited. A digital onboarding process expands your range of action and activities.

Challenges in remote onboarding new employees

Once the right candidates have been found and the employment contracts signed, the next step is onboarding new employees. This often takes the form of remote onboarding, i.e. induction while the new employee is completely working from home. Unlike employees who have been with the company for a long time and are familiar with processes and colleagues, the idea of working from home, including a digital onboarding process, is sure to not only evoke feelings of happiness in newcomers but more likely raise a number of questions: 

  • How should a digital onboarding process work? 
  • Who can I ask if I get stuck? 
  • Can I be inducted in the digital onboarding process so I can quickly be productive? 
  • Will I feel part of the team – despite digital onboarding? 
  • How can I get to know my team from a distance?  
  • What about the fun factor at work? 

Companies that are new to remote working and have no experience with digital onboarding of new employees may also be skeptical of virtual induction and may not have an answer to the question of how digital employee onboarding works. 

But even companies that already have experience with remote onboarding shouldn’t be casual about it. After all, the impact of a good onboarding process on employee satisfaction and retention should not be underestimated. Skills shortage and employer brand are also important keywords to bear in mind here. If you don’t make an effort to induct your new employee well, you may be rid of them faster than you can say employer branding.

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Why you should take onboarding new employees seriously

  • Onboarding new employees is expensive. It can take several weeks or months before a new employee can work productively on their own and contribute to the company’s profits. 
  • With a well-planned onboarding process, new employees will perform faster. Anyone who quickly understands the new company, products, services and processes can quickly be productive Companies therefore save time and money if they invest in good induction at the outset. 
  • Good workers must be retained. If you have found a good skilled worker, you should look after them. Professionals have plenty of other options on today’s recruitment market. 
  • Good digital onboarding has a positive effect on employer branding – a happy new employee will speak positively about their new employer if they feel comfortable there. This pays dividends for the employer brand. 

So onboarding new employees is clearly more than just a tedious process at the beginning of the period of employment. But how can the onboarding process succeed if the new employee starts completely working from home – just like their colleagues and line managers? 

Tips for digital employee onboarding

Communication – even before the first day of work 

The onboarding process already starts with the signing of the contract. Even though it may be a few weeks or even a month before they start work, during the onboarding of new employees, the latter should also have a contact person available in advance to answer any questions that may crop up beforehand. 

Regular dialogue is particularly important in the digital onboarding process.  Because unlike in the office, you won’t necessarily overhear how the newcomer is doing in their new job, whether they have everything they need to do their job, and whether there are any problems that you can easily sort out together. So regularly ask them how things are going. They will appreciate it. 

 

Preparing the workplace 

The time before the first day of work can also be used in digital onboarding to make preparations for the new colleague, e.g. 

  • Preparing the workplace 
  • Providing hardware 
  • Setting up access to required software 
  • Preparing an access card or providing a key 
  • Providing other working materials. 

If the induction is to take place in digital form from the first day of work, it must be clarified during the onboarding process how the work material will reach the new employee, for example by collecting it in advance or by post. 

The first day of work – good planning is half the battle 

Nothing is worse than starting a new job highly motivated after new employee onboarding and then realizing on the very first day that no one is prepared. Not only does this look unprofessional for employee onboarding.  Rather, it makes the newcomer doubt the esteem in which they are held, resulting in them possibly questioning on the very first day whether the decision to join your company was the right one. 

So make sure that the new employee is welcomed appropriately on the first day. For the digital onboarding process, this can mean, for example, that the employee is welcomed by their line manager in a virtual meeting, gets to know their colleagues in a video call and receives an initial overview of the company and their area of responsibility. The first day of work should also include setting up the workplace with the relevant access together with a team colleague who will support them. 

 

Acquiring the necessary know-how with an induction plan 

With a clear induction plan, you can ensure that the new colleague receives all the knowledge they need for their area of responsibility – and at the time that makes sense in the onboarding of new employees. On the other hand, the colleagues who are responsible for induction also know exactly when to block off periods of time and what they have to prepare by then. An induction plan is therefore not only useful for digital onboarding. 

 

Also in the digital onboarding process: clear communication of goals and expectations 

The goals and expectations placed on the new employee are closely linked to the induction plan. These should be clearly communicated to them right at the beginning so that everyone has the same level of knowledge. This way the new company member knows right away what they should focus on and when they are expected to take on the first tasks independently. During the onboarding of new employees, schedule regular communication meetings with the line manager so that they are also aware of how far their new employee has progressed in the digital onboarding process and where they can still support them in building up the necessary knowledge. 

 

Key to digital employee onboarding – mentoring: taking newcomers under your wing 

A lot of questions crop up during the first few days in a new job. Since the new employee may not yet know the correct contact person for this, it is helpful if one of their colleagues is available as their mentor during the first few days or weeks. This is even more important in the digital onboarding process, as the barrier of having to pick up the phone for every question is much higher than when colleagues are in the same room. 

 

Digital onboarding means: socializing in the virtual team 

Chats by the coffee machine, shared lunch breaks or getting into a conversation in the smokers’ corner – all of these things no longer exist when the onboarding of new employees is completely digital. To ensure that employees do not feel lost and have the chance to get to know their new colleagues from a distance and therefore feel like a member of the team, there should be opportunities for socializing. Lunch breaks can also be held together by video call in the digital onboarding process, as can virtual coffee breaks. What is important here: using the video feature makes a world of difference compared to a simple phone call. Seeing the other person’s facial expressions and gestures creates much more closeness than just hearing their voice. 

Networking the newcomers can also be very helpful.

Structured employee onboarding with EASY HR Cloud

Depending on the new employee’s position, the preparation of their induction can be relatively extensive. The digital mapping of recurring processes as well as an onboarding checklist, which also includes work materials and required access, can be very helpful in the onboarding of new employees.  

HR management software solutions such as EASY HR Cloud provide integrated onboarding modules for this purpose, with which standard processes such as the induction of new employees can be digitally mapped and easily transferred. At the same time, employee onboarding can be customized to address the specifics of the employee’s position or each individual’s learning pace. This ensures that the onboarding of new employees works and that their induction is structured and comprehensive, while at the same time reducing the time and effort required for this. 

As a web-based solution, HR Cloud, which comprises the two core modules personnel file and recruiting, offers the great advantage that it can be accessed from anywhere and HR employees can work with it at the same time – even when working from home.

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EASY SOFTWARE develops software solutions and actively drive the digital transformation for efficient, secure and mobile work with digital business processes. EASY integrates these into existing IT infrastructures and generates sustainable added value. This makes digitization a quick and easy experience for their customers.
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