Onboarding remote graduates is more than logistics, such as ensuring your new employee has a computer and an email address. Graduates need to feel welcome, they need to understand their roles and responsibilities, company values, and the culture of the workplace.
The upside of hiring graduates is that they are digital natives because they have grown up with technology and have used it on a daily basis throughout their lives. Plus, at some point, the Covid pandemic had them learning from home on tablets or laptops, so the remote working aspect will not come as a shock to them. However, the process of starting a new job is daunting, so a sound onboarding programme is crucial. A study by Glassdoor found that a strong onboarding process improved new hire retention by eighty-two percent. Additionally, it was found that strong onboarding also improved the productivity of new hires by over seventy percent.
The most important aspects of successfully onboarding graduates include :
- Getting off to a fast start will give your new hire early comfort and confidence, making him or her feel welcome.
- Establishing a foundation for strong relationships across the organisation.
- Building an understanding of the culture and how work gets done.
- Setting clear expectations and connecting the individual’s work to the broader organisational mission, vision, and goals.
Regardless of whether a company onboards graduates one at a time or brings in larger cohorts of new hires for group onboarding, the following four recommendations can help remote graduate onboarding programmes succeed:
Get off to a fast start
Identify, appoint, and communicate a dedicated onboarding mentor
Having an informal mentor to support a new hire is beneficial in the office, but it becomes even more critical when working remotely since there won't be colleagues readily available for spontaneous questions. To ensure the graduate feels at ease asking any type of question, this mentor should be someone other than their manager. With a host of questions expected from any new graduate employee, it's important to avoid any uncertainty about who they can turn to. Ideally, the onboarding mentor will take the initiative and connect with the new hire before their first day, establishing themselves as the go-to person for guidance.
Create a connection to the company before the first day
When a candidate accepts a job offer, find a way to make them feel part of the team. At RecruitAGraduate, we like to send new employees a care package before they start. The package contains products from the company as well as a note welcoming the employee to the team.
Set up technology before the start date
Providing a session with IT for every new team member to introduce them to the videoconferencing platform, communication channels, and other company systems can relieve initial nerves. Conducting this session before their first day avoids potential technical problems and enables new graduates to fully participate and feel at ease from the start.
Establish strong relationships across the organisation when onboarding remote graduates
In a virtual setting, building relationships can be more challenging without the natural interactions that happen in person. To ensure success for graduate employee onboarding, it is important to proactively arrange a mix of structured and casual one-on-one interactions with others. It is also beneficial to plan a variety of group discussions to help them understand the team dynamics. One potential downside of remote work is the tendency for individuals or leaders to operate in isolation with a limited network. To avoid this, it is important to create a strong core network as well as expand connections across the organisation.
Encourage strong 1:1 relationships
To combat the lack of spontaneous opportunities for small talk and other relationship building that would typically happen in an office, encourage your new graduate and their teammates to set up a mix of formal conversations, to cover rules, responsibilities, and business objectives, and shorter, informal interactions over coffee, lunch, or debriefing on a recent meeting. Just as in virtual interviewing, one advantage of virtual onboarding is the general availability of colleagues over video, so these meetings should be readily easy to schedule.
This is also an excellent opportunity to foster reverse mentorship, where more senior employees can learn tech skills from these newly onboarded graduates. Reverse mentoring acts as a catalyst for creativity, promoting the emergence of new concepts on all organisational levels while closing your skills gap.
Explain the company culture and how work gets done
It is important for new employees to become familiar with the company's culture from the beginning. Take more time discussing what is typical and atypical across various cultural dimensions than you normally would in a face-to-face setting. Also, give your new colleagues the opportunity to ask questions about how things are done.
Make unspoken assumptions explicit
Many organisations rely on organic ways of communicating shared history and norms. Whether virtually or not, memorialising a company’s history in videos, in the “about us” section of your website, and in documents will accelerate a process that might otherwise take longer to capture over a series of many interactions with longstanding members of the organisation. Even if it feels awkward, explicit guidance around norms that are often taken for granted - the company’s tone and level of formality, dress code, virtual etiquette on videoconferences, messaging norms, and working hours - will be helpful. Don’t leave new employees to guess at these issues; doing so creates ambiguity and stress.
Set clear expectations and connect the graduate’s work to the broader organisational mission, vision, and goals
In order to understand how their responsibilities contribute to the company's success, graduates need to have a clear understanding of what success looks like during the first three months of work and beyond. The employer must share key communications and presentations regarding the direction and goals of the company when an individual joins the team, so the graduate understands how their work fits into the organisation's overall strategy.
To help a new employee prioritise and sequence work and accomplish some quick wins that will build a strong foundation for success in the future, having a clear set of responsibilities and outcomes can be critical. Long-term, while a role may evolve, adapt, and become more complex over time, having clarity from the start will create a foundation from which graduates can adapt more easily.
Graduates value recognition and feedback
Gen Z craves regular feedback and recognition for their progress. They appreciate frequent check-ins with managers and constructive feedback to help them improve and grow. Organisations that do not provide adequate feedback mechanisms may struggle to engage and retain graduate talent. Read this article about what graduates want in their careers.
Effective remote graduate onboarding plays a crucial role in setting graduates up for success and, in turn, business success. A positive start generates momentum, while a negative one can damage a new employee's confidence and raise doubts about their hiring. The key differentiator of companies with successful onboarding, whether it be in-person or virtual, is their intentional approach, which extends beyond the initial week, month, or even three months.
Your onboarding strategy must serve as the foundation for continual development, fostering cultural alignment, interpersonal connections within the organisation, and optimal performance in their position.
At RecruitAGraduate we are graduate hiring experts and we screen our graduates to ensure they are matched perfectly to the employer. This, along with the right graduate remote onboarding strategy will go far in growing your business.
Ask us about our pool of skilled graduates and experience hassle-free graduate hiring with RecruitAGraduate. Learn more or contact us here.