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6 min read

4 ways to improve the employee experience

Employee onboarding sets the tone for an employee’s experience with your organization. And in times of crises, this is arguably more important. Onboarding remote employees isn’t something we’re necessarily used to, but we need to make sure our people have the best experience possible, no matter where they are. 

According to Glassdoor, the average U.S. employer spends about $4,000 and 24 days to hire a new worker.

Now more than ever it’s crucial to make sure our remote onboarding efforts are well-received on the other side to create a strong foundation on day one. At Reward Gateway, we’ve recently onboarded some of our employees remotely and want to share these ideas with you. 

In the first part of this series, discover four tips from managers and members of the People Team have done to improve the employee experience for remote employees.

 1. Embrace change and adapt as you go
 2. Collaborate with various departments 
 3. Connect employees to company values
 4. Put yourself in their shoes

1. Embrace change and adapt as you go

The first tip is an obvious one, but it’s arguably the most important. Embracing change and adapting as we navigate these uncertain times is the key ingredient to ensuring your remote employees feel connected and included. 

Inclusive communication is essential whenever someone new joins your team, but especially right now. 

 Name:  Carla Sutherland
 Role:  HR Business Partner
 Location:  United States

When we first hired our newest Employee Engagement Specialist in the Boston office, the work from home (WFH) mandate didn’t start yet. He was supposed to start the following Monday, but instead we had to order a computer to his house quickly.

Meanwhile, every other company that was switching to a WFH environment was also ordering computers, so there was a long wait time which was somewhat of a hurdle, but we needed to ensure that our people had the tools they need to do their job.

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We kept our communications with him open and honest and in turn he was empathic to the situation. I worked with his manager and together we updated his onboarding plan to full video calls with various team members. Luckily video calls are something we’re used to at RG, but if they’re not normally a part of your organization, you can try phone calls or asking teammates to share pictures to introduce themselves. 

Even though these employees are remote, they’re still a crucial part of the team and should be onboarded the same way as you would onboard them face-to-face. 

Every new starter gets a welcome pack as a way to showcase our Employee Value Proposition during employee onboarding. But given the circumstances, the welcome pack looked a little different time this time around. I still wanted to make his first day special and he felt welcomed by the RG family. We sent him a gift card to purchase take out from a restaurant of his choice to make the experience more memorable. 

Download our eBook to discover tips to help you onboard remote employees  during COVID-19»

Takeaway: Think about how you can adapt your onboarding experience to reflect the current situation and make employees feel included. Are there things you can send employees? Are there ways to make things more digital? 

2. Collaborate with various departments

Improving employee collaboration across various departments is a foundational element in the successful onboarding of remote employees. When they have insight into the different teams and people they’ll be working with, it helps build deeper connections from the get-go.

 Name:  Lubomira Popova
 Role:  Head of Overnight Support
 Location:  Bulgaria

It’s our responsibility as managers to make sure that new employees are welcomed by RG the right way. The challenge for us as managers started with creating the actual Training Schedule.

Within the conditions of navigating temporary remote work, it’s more important than ever that we provide the employee with a clear, understandable, easy-to-follow and engaging schedule on their first day at work. 

With a consultation with L&D and HR, we revisioned our standard schedule and put a bigger emphasis on the self-prep and social aspects of it. The schedule included time for learning, reading, exploring helpful resources and meetings with different RGers across the globe. 

Within the first week, we scheduled lots of meetings with supportive members of different teams, like Experience Manager, the People Team, the IT Team and the Client Success Team. We also added the new starters to all of our regular weekly and monthly meetings with other departments and introduced them as being part of the team to put a face to the name and promote collaboration.

Another foundational step we took was onboarding new employees to our employee engagement platform and showing them how to interact with leadership communications and send recognition, which helps fuel employee connections and showcase collaboration across teams.

Takeaway: People are craving connections and it’s important to not only introduce people at the start, but to support and nurture these relationships in the long-run with the right tools and information. 

3. Connect employees to company values

Your company values are the guiding light for your people – they provide a sense of stability and certainty when employees need it most. Make sure your new hires feel connected to your company values from the very start so they not only understand them, but can celebrate them now and in the future.

 Name:  Dariya Dishkova
 Role:  Client Relationship Team Manager
 Location:  Bulgaria

It's not an easy task to onboard a new member of the team while we are all working from home and trying to adapt to the ever-changing situation such as the one with the coronavirus. 

The most important thing is to live up to our values in the first place because the first impression you make is the one that lasts the longest. 

We didn't send any items to employees’ homes because it was really hard to organize given the current situation and most of the retailers having a long-delivery timescale. Instead we used peer-to-peer recognition with our eCards to welcome our new team member and connect her to our RG values, while making sure to include her in all relevant communication channels, so she didn’t feel left out. 

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Takeaway: Making someone feel like a part of the company from the very beginning is always important, regardless of where your workspace is or how it is set-up.

4. Put yourself in their shoes

Leading people through a crisis and practicing empathy will help you transform company culture, build trust and foster deeper connections with your people. Although people aren’t experiencing the type of onboarding we’re used to, that doesn’t mean we can’t make it engaging. Think about how you would want to be onboarded at a new company and put these ideas into action.

 Name:  Janelle Havill
 Role:  Head of Sales Development
 Location:  Australia

I tried hard to think about what it would be like if I was starting a new job remotely and how I might feel, so I wanted to mirror that experience. Meet and greets with the team online, plenty of opportunities to chat with colleagues and start forming those relationships, virtual hangout lunch sessions and different parts of the induction process being looked after by multiple people, giving the new employee more opportunities to get to know their colleagues.

I spent lots of time listening and asking questions, like “how is the experience going?” or “what could I be doing more of or less of?” It’s important to build trust through open and honest communications early and provide clear direction for your new employee around what success looks like as a new employee who was onboarded remotely. This will hopefully make them feel more connected.

I also had the rest of the SDR team gatecrash my first catch up session with the new hire with welcome signs to make her feel more included.

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Takeaway: Being an empathic manager never goes unnoticed. Think of ways you can support your people by listening, asking questions and showing that their feedback is invaluable.


We hope these examples provide a solid foundation for you to get started on your own journey of onboarding remote employees. No matter what department you work in, where your people are located or if you’ve ever worked remotely before, one thing is universally true: 

We have a responsibility to connect our new hires to our business, our people and our values to ensure they have the best experience possible.

If you have any questions or want to chat more about ways to create an engaging experience from the get-go, feel free to send me a message on LinkedIn. Stay tuned for the next part of our remote onboarding series!

Author

Carla Sutherland

Carla Sutherland
Reward Gateway

Carla Sutherland is an HR Business Partner at Reward Gateway and adores her two French bulldogs, Pickles and Pesto.

The making of an agile working office and its effect on employee engagement Watch Video »
The making of an agile working office and its effect on employee engagement Watch Video »
The making of an agile working office and its effect on employee engagement Watch Video »
The making of an agile working office and its effect on employee engagement Watch Video »

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