Remote onboarding was brand new for us. Even when we recruited talent in London and Amsterdam, we flew new TrackTikers to Montreal for their onboarding period, given that we were convinced that being present in the office was the only way to fully experience our culture and build meaningful relationships with new colleagues.
With the COVID-19 reality, we had to revise that assumption and discovered that remote onboarding not only offered a great opportunity to distill our culture but also to offer a tailored experience to newcomers: here are some of our takeaways to make remote onboarding a success.
Prepare new TrackTikers
Share information in advance
Starting a new job usually involves a mix of excitement and nervousness. To reduce the latter, managers were encouraged to reach out to their new team members, answer questions and share mutual expectations before Day 1. The Talent team also sent them an onboarding calendar before their start date, with details about when the following would take place:
- Introduction to their manager, direct team and buddies
- Department onboarding: every newcomers cohort is offered a 30 to 60 minute introduction with each department head to learn more about how they each operate and how to best leverage them.
- TrackTik software training: to provide the most value to our clients, familiarizing themselves with the industry and the software is crucial. Online classroom learning sessions are combined with group and individual assignments including access to videos, manuals and the chance to practice within our full software suite..
- Additional learning opportunities: TrackTikers are a curious bunch and learning events are sure to occur during the onboarding period. For some of our newcomers, this was the opportunity to attend a Diversity & Inclusion Lunch & Learn about LGBTQ+ realities in the workplace and ways to be a better ally.
Anticipate IT questions and give access to equipment
New TrackTikers were offered the opportunity to pick up their IT equipment in person: this was a perfect opportunity to catch-up before the start date and,and for some of them hired during the pandemic, to discover our office. We did our best to anticipate questions about some of the tools we use and to provide the needed information for fast ramp up.
For those who couldn’t pick up their equipment in person,, we gladly shipped it their way without forgetting some timely swag!
Compile reading materials
While most of the onboarding information used to be provided face-to-face, we realized that there was value in putting together some of it in writing and making it possible for our new employees to absorb it at their preferred time. For instance, we built a guide about our industry, mixing external and internal sources and links to some of the content we have had the chance to produce with our clients.
Be intentional about relationship building
Celebrate new arrivals
Everyone knew about the new Tracktikers before their start date and was already excited to celebrate the good news. We combined Slack mentions to an official introduction during Cardio – not our workout routine but rather a weekly company-wide meeting focused on company priorities, recognition and lessons learned. We noticed that some existing TrackTikers made an extra effort to get to know our new people and be empathetic, as everyone understood that these new hires had to navigate the COVID-19 reality we were all still getting used to, a new role and new colleagues.
Be explicit about what our values look like in practice
Remote onboarding makes it more difficult to learn about the desired behaviours and attitudes by simply observing your surroundings. To address that challenge, we ramped up our buddy program and connected our new people with two distinct buddies: one who answered questions about the role, tools and processes and the second one focused on sharing their practical experience with the culture.
In parallel, we started working actively to transform our Employee Handbook and progressively transform it into a Culture Book.
Offer opportunities to socialize
Walking in the rest areas of our office is usually a great way to recharge and connect with others. With our transition to remote work, these informal interactions were replaced by dedicated Slack channels and inter- or intra-departmental online gatherings. We left room for new TrackTikers to explore them and find the best way to build relationships. Our monthly Family Reunion was maintained online and gave them a good glimpse at how we celebrate birthdays, work anniversaries, personal milestones and opportunities to laugh (imagine a whole company stretching at the same time on camera or some of our employees deciding to get together to show off their musical talent).
Adjust to various styles
Use insights from behavioral assessments
For every open role, candidates are asked to perform a scientifically validated behavioural assessment. This helps us tailor interview questions to their individual drives and needs.
These insights become truly essential once the candidate becomes an official TrackTiker. Managers are supported to adjust their coaching style to their new team member and to learn more about how their behavioral profile fits the existing team. To what degree are they driven to conform to rules and structure, interact with people, exert one’s influence on people or events or have stability and consistency? How will they tend to interact with specific colleagues?
Offer a faster ramp by making training available earlier
Welcoming new hires over the past few months has helped us understand the importance of exposing them to the in’s and out’s of the TrackTik software as soon as possible. This leaves more time for them to fully absorb the information and ramp up.
We understand that not everyone is fully accustomed to long hours in conference calls and we took this as an opportunity to continue building content that TrackTikers can process at their own rhythm.
Understand that everyone has unique circumstances
It is often easier for an existing employee to ask for special arrangements due to the COVID-19 remote work situation compared to a new hire who wants to make a good impression. We tried to be proactively empathetic and ensure that newcomers who might be juggling caregiver responsibilities had a true opportunity to disconnect at the end of the day and provided some level of flexibility in their schedule when possible. Promoting our Employee Assistance Program early on is another strategy we adopted to convey how important mental health is for us.
Our onboarding process is always in motion: each new cohort of TrackTikers helps us learn something new and improve something we do. Setting time aside for feedback and brainstorming is the only way to keep innovating and keep improving our employee experience.
Offering autonomy, being trusting, working as a team, delivering a personalized experience, collecting feedback and always continuing to innovate proved to be some of the cultural drivers that made our remote onboarding process successful.
We didn’t think the insights could be complete without asking some of our new hires about their onboarding takeaways. Enjoy!
I felt truly welcome by the organization and by my team, as each team member personally reached out to me. I was provided a solid foundation to product knowledge on top of which I can build. My team also ensured I was equipped to be successful in my role and made shadowing sessions available to me to better understand my role.
– Neaha, Training & Implementation Specialist
All the virtual sessions with tailored content were what set this digital on-boarding experience apart. I received guidance and visibility over the process, and it made it easier for me to blend in. I was successfully on-boarded, not only in my Marketing team, but also in other teams I will collaborate with. It was very impressive, and I have never experienced such a thorough onboarding.
– Rishabh, Marketo Specialist
All the on-boarding training sessions were really well organized and allowed me to gain a great grasp of the TrackTik solution. Even though I started working while being remote, I feel like it was the best on-boarding I’ve ever had. I was able to connect with my team and they even organized online [email protected]’s, making it possible for me to get to know them much more this way!
– Marc André, Android Developer