June 1, 2023
10 min read
Onboarding is a real topic these days. According to a Gallup poll, only 12% of employees think their companies excel at onboarding new hires. And it’s even harder to onboard newcomers in a remote environment. Starting a new job is already stressful, but starting a new job in a fully remote company can even be a bigger challenge for a new employee. At Rollee, we believe that investing in the remote onboarding process will improve our employee experience, and therefore improve our performance.
To give you a little bit of context: Rollee is a fully remote start-up with more than 20 employees living in 12 different countries around the globe. We’re hiring from anywhere in the world. When I joined the company in May 2022 as their People Manager, one of my first missions was to build the onboarding process with a special focus on quality. At that stage, Rollee didn't have a global solution that could manage onboarding, and here is why it was a priority for us:
As a new employee, it’s easy to feel lost on the first day, even more when working remotely. In person, you can shadow someone during the first days, and meet colleagues during lunch. Remotely, the person lives in their own city physically far away from the team. The investment in a strong onboarding process is even more important to make the new employee feel welcomed, and foster strong engagement from the start.
The first days are the most important to make a good first impression. New employees decide if they made the right choice in joining the company during their first week. Recruiting talent is a challenge these days with 77% of companies globally reporting talent shortage, and companies invest a lot of money and energy in recruiting the right people. Keeping those top talents is key, and losing them can be an important cost. So, how do we retain our talents? The first step is clearly to have a strong onboarding process in place. According to a study from the Corporate Leadership Council, “87% of team members are less likely to leave a company when they feel engaged.”
Every new employee experiences stress when starting a new job. If they feel welcomed by the team, have access to the right tools, understand their role and what is expected of them during the first weeks and months, it will help reduce anxiety. A structured and complete onboarding process is essential, and if it is well done, the new employee should be up and running after the first week, and will be able to be productive a lot faster. Gitlab found that “companies that invest in onboarding report 54% more productivity from new hires”.
In 3 months, we built our remote onboarding process. How did we do it?
First, I met with each employee to get their feedback on their onboarding at Rollee and how we could improve it. Then, we structured the onboarding process using Bamboo HR, our HRIS. Finally, we communicated the process to the team, got their approval and tested the process with 10 new employees who were onboarded in the next eight months.
Here’s what the remote onboarding process looks like at Rollee:
We start our process as soon as the new employee signs their contract. Using our HRIS, I create the future employee’s profile and I send a list of tasks to everyone who’s part of the onboarding : the Manager, the COO, our Security Engineer, the People Manager (myself in that case). The tasks are pre-programmed for every onboarding. They are very detailed to make sure we don't forget anything. Each task has a due date and is assigned to someone. For example, one task is to “Create a Google account for the new employee” and it is sent to the COO 6 days before the employee’s first day. We can also program notifications to be reminded of a specific task.
An important element is to ensure that the employee receives their laptop and work material before their first day.
Good Practice: use an external provider (we use Fleet) to schedule the send-out of the employee’s laptop as soon as they sign their contract. They also follow-up on local custom regulations.
I keep an ongoing communication with the future employees. I send a first welcome email asking them to fill in a short survey using Google Forms. This way, we have all the information needed to send the laptop and the onboarding kit to their home/office.
A second email is sent to the employee one week before their first day explaining in detail what to expect of their first day and week. I make sure they know I am available to answer any of their questions.
Then, all the meetings are scheduled in advance in their calendar.
To make sure they have all their work material on their first day, we create all the different accounts the employee will use, and give access to all our tools.
Once the new employee has signed their contract and confirmed their start date, I announce their arrival to the whole company during our next “Kick off the week” meeting that is scheduled every Monday.
On their first day, I encourage everyone to have informal chats with the newcomers to make them feel welcome.
We also have a bonus feature with our HRIS. On their first day, the new employee fills in a “new hire packet” asking them fun questions about themselves, and the answers are sent to the team, so they can get to know them. It helps create connections as soon as the employee joins.
The first day at a new job can be overwhelming for anyone, and the impressions formed on this day can last a long time. As an employer, it's important to dedicate time and special care to this moment.
Understanding how the company is organized, the product, the different teams, all the tools can be overwhelming on the first day. There are a lot of things to discover for a new employee.
At Rollee, I set up calendar schedules for onboarding tasks, welcome meetings and training sessions to help the new employee feel organized and prepared. The goal is that the employee meets with the key people on their first days. We avoid scheduling too many meetings to give them time to read documentations, set up their laptop, familiarize with our tools, and discover Rollee.
Onboarding doesn’t stop after the first day. Dedicating special attention to catch-up with new employees is an essential part of a remote culture.
At Rollee, we share responsibilities on our onboarding processes between the People department and the team leaders. As People Manager, I’m in charge of the process side of the onboarding, while team leaders take on the operational side.
On the operational side, managers set up regular meetings with their newcomers on the first day, first week and first month of their arrival. This helps them understand their newcomers' state of mind and expectations, and react fast when they notice a topic that needs to be addressed.
From the last onboardings I did, I learned that the follow-ups were crucial for the employees in order to have discussions about their role and responsibilities, ask questions, and create a connection with their manager.
Our process also includes an onboarding survey that I send to the new employee after two weeks at Rollee. This allows me to measure the satisfaction, engagement and retention of our newcomers. It also gives me valuable insights and improvements on our process.
Pre boarding can be easily forgotten, but it is an essential one to deliver a good onboarding experience to the new employee. It can be challenging and stressful to start a new job and a good communication strategy is key to engage your employees even before their first day.
Good practice: Stay in touch with your future employee between the time they accepted their offer and their first day. Send them updates on the business that could impact them in their future position and give them the option to schedule an informal chat before their arrival for any questions they may have.
This step helps the employee feel valued by the new company, it reduces anxiety for their first day, and communicates the company culture ahead of time.
Documentation is key in a remote onboarding process. Everything needs to be written somewhere and well organized. It ensures that critical information, processes, and procedures are properly communicated, reducing dependency on verbal instructions and minimizing the risk of information loss. It helps new employees understand the company's operations, policies, and best practices more quickly.
At Rollee, we created a Welcome Board (using Notion) where important information is gathered about the company, the internal policies and our tools.
To help a new employee’s integration, we established a “buddy program” at Rollee. It is a good way to create a connection between the new employee and a colleague on the first day. A buddy is someone who’s a champion of the company’s culture, who understands the company’s mission and wants to help new hires get excited about working there. We select someone who isn’t going to work in the same team as the newcomer to create a bond between the different teams.
The role of a buddy is to have informal chats with the new employee during their first weeks. It helps socializing, understanding the culture and the informal rules, and asking questions that they are less comfortable asking their manager.
The buddy program is even more important in a remote company, as the newcomer can’t have coffee chats and informal interactions with colleagues. At Rollee, we are lucky to have employees from so many different nationalities and who live all over the world. We always try to select a buddy who is located in a different country to mix cultures.
We are proud to say that our process works and brings good results since we put it in place in September 2022. How do we know it’s really working? We can only be certain by measuring it. So, we set up specific KPIs to follow our policy's success.
The feedback survey is answered by all the newcomers. It has 10 questions about the following topics: their global satisfaction of the onboarding process, their level of stress before their first day, the connections with the colleagues, the communication systems at Rollee, the understanding of their role, what they liked the most about their onboarding and the elements that need to be improved.
We review the results every quarter, and make sure we take into account all the feedback we receive to constantly improve our process and be excellent in onboarding newcomers. For example, during Q2 of 2023, we got the global satisfaction rate of 4.66 / 5.
Every 6 months, I schedule one on one with each member of the team to get their feedback on our People processes. Onboarding is one of them, and I make sure to ask them how we can improve. Yes it’s important to get feedback from the new employee but also from employees who take time and energy in onboarding them.
Every 6 months, we also do a satisfaction survey, called eNPS (employee Net Promoter Score), where employees tell us how likely they are to recommend Rollee as a workplace to a friend or colleague. They also tell us what we do well, and how we can improve their experience. This way, we can identify the improvements needed on the onboarding process and take actions.
Are you thinking of implementing or improving an onboarding process in your company? Reach out and we will happily share more details about our process with you!