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Blog Post|8 minutes

How to Manage the Remote Onboarding Process and Retain Top Talent

How to Manage the Remote Onboarding Process and Retain Top Talent
January 6th

If you’ve ever started a new job, you know what a whirlwind those first few days and weeks can feel like. A new job means meeting new faces, learning new processes, familiarizing yourself with new and unfamiliar technology, and discovering what new challenges you’ll be facing for the foreseeable future. It can all be quite overwhelming — particularly at companies that don’t offer top-of-the-line employee onboarding programs.

Unfortunately, lackluster onboarding is a widespread issue for modern businesses. In fact, research suggests 88% of employees don’t believe their employers do a good job of onboarding. And employers aren’t exactly ignorant to the problem: 25% of companies admit they don’t offer any kind of training in their onboarding programs.

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These numbers are jarring, considering how important onboarding is for the success of employees and employers alike. Insufficient onboarding has major consequences, both for a new hire’s development and for a company’s ability to retain and hire top talent:

You might be asking: if onboarding is such a familiar practice, why do so many companies fall short? In most cases, the problem boils down to this: most companies have no way to measure whether or not their onboarding program is working — until it’s too late. And, considering the effects that the pandemic has had on employees, it’s more important than ever for businesses to remedy their onboarding mistakes.

In 2020, remote onboarding posed even greater challenges for HR teams.

The above statistics don’t paint a pretty picture about the success of the average onboarding program. This year, an average company’s onboarding struggles have become even more complex, as the pandemic has resulted in most employees — including new hires — staying out of the office and working entirely from remote settings.

This shift is one that most businesses were unprepared for. A recent study found that just 19% of business leaders had a remote work strategy in place prior to COVID-19. Of the companies that do have a remote work strategy, only 33% have a strategy for remote onboarding.

When an onboarding program falls short, new hires are more likely to feel lost, confused, and even undervalued. Those negative sentiments become even more pronounced when new employees are stuck at home, only able to connect with their new colleagues virtually.

If businesses want to attract and retain talent in this new hiring landscape, it’s imperative that they rethink their methods for onboarding new employees. Read on and learn how IT and HR can work in tandem to provide a more consistent, rewarding onboarding experience. 

The onboarding XLA: The key to measuring employee onboarding experience

The first step towards improving visibility into onboarding is to change the way we track and measure the experience of new hires. In order to gain a more holistic view into employee experience, HR and IT must shift away from commonly used Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and towards more experience-based measurements — or XLAs.

The problem with traditional SLAs for onboarding is they do not provide actionable insights that improve experience in real-time. For example, an organization might collect data that tracks the time-to-productivity of new hires. This data might then enable them to tweak their onboarding strategy for the future. But it does not give an organization the ability to measure employee sentiment throughout the onboarding process. As a result, they have no ability to proactively resolve issues and make ongoing improvements.

On the other hand, an onboarding XLA combines hard and soft metrics to track the sentiments of new hires over their entire onboarding lifecycle. Deploying XLAs enables IT and HR teams to work together to achieve the following:

  • Proactive intervention to solve employee problems throughout the onboarding process.
  • Continuous improvement through enterprise-level visibility of the onboarding process.
  • Actionable insight into the employee onboarding lifecycle from day one.

Now let’s take a closer look by zeroing in on that last point and explaining exactly what the onboarding lifecycle looks like — and how to measure it.  

Tracking the employee remote onboarding lifecycle: day 1 to day 90

When a new employee shows up for their first day, they’re inundated with a wave of new information and tasks to complete before they’re up to speed. Signing up for the payroll system, accessing the benefits site, completing training exercises, accessing a knowledge center — the list goes on. 

Unfortunately, most companies leave their new hires out to dry when it comes to making sure they actually complete these essential tasks on schedule. This is even more critical in our current hiring environment, when most new hires are being onboarded virtually and without the in-person support of an office environment.

A comprehensive onboarding XLA enables IT and HR teams to monitor these granular details of the onboarding experience. By tracking onboarding experiences on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, they’re able to proactively guide new hires to the point of self-sufficiency. Here are some examples of these onboarding benchmarks might look like: 

Day One:

  • Delivery and successful access of essential technologies
  • Completion of initial new hire orientation exercises
  • Access to administrative accounts (email, messaging platforms)

Week One:

  • Technology functioning properly
  • Access to job-specific tools
  • Log-in to payroll and benefits platform

Week Two:

  • Mentoring/buddy communication
  • Completion of training exercises

30 days:

  • Scheduling of 1:1 management sessions
  • Completion of role and responsibility transition

90 days:

  • Completion of all onboarding exercises and training
  • Employee self-sufficiency and understanding of career path

Of course, this kind of monitoring requires a joint effort between HR and IT departments. IT gathers real-time data related to technological experience and employee sentiment, enabling HR to conduct the necessary outreach and keep new hires on the right path towards completion of the onboarding program.

Enhancing new employee experience with Nexthink Engage

Nexthink Engage is a key element of Nexthink’s employee-focused IT philosophy. Engage enables HR and IT to proactively communicate with employees in real time — which is an essential step to managing the onboarding process.

With Nexthink Engage, HR and IT teams can craft targeted campaigns to stay constantly engaged with new hires during and after their first 90 days. Engage enables organizations to achieve the following:

  • Gather employee sentiment data.

Earlier in this article, we referenced research that suggests most employees express negative sentiments about their onboarding experience. Most businesses either never receive this feedback, or receive it after the onboarding is completed and the damage is already done. 

Nexthink Engage allows for real-time collection of valuable employee sentiment data through targeted outreach. This feedback can expose problems in a new hire’s onboarding experience, so those problems can be addressed immediately and the new hire can get back on track to a positive experience.

  • Drive continuous and non-intrusive improvements.

Engage enables IT to deploy targeted campaigns to new hires that do experience a technical issue during their onboarding process. These pre-built or personalized campaigns can deliver key IT information and self-healing capabilities without impeding or complicating the new employee’s workflow.

  • Broadcast personalized communication.

With targeted Engage campaigns, organizations can deliver unique messaging to new hires throughout the different stages of their onboarding journey. From welcoming messages on Day 1 to technical tips on Day 30 to periodic check-ins, these outreach campaigns bridge the gap between employees and IT and keep new hires from feeling lost or isolated throughout the onboarding process.

It’s true that successful onboarding is more challenging than ever before. However, prioritizing proactive measurement and increased visibility can help organizations drastically improve their strategies and retain more of the talent they bring on board. When IT and HR work together to support new hires at every step, they provide a rewarding onboarding experience for every single employee.


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If you want to see Nexthink working in your own environment, don’t hesitate to schedule a demo.