How to Welcome a New Employee to the Team Remotely

How to Welcome a New Employee to the Team Remotely

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Okay, Human Resources gurus — we have to admit, we never planned for this one. Because at WorkTango, we had “how to welcome a new employee to the team” down pat. Swag at their desk. Greet them at the door. Give them orientation and an onboarding buddy.

Then, the COVID-19 pandemic happened. And all of a sudden, we were working from home — and we couldn’t even roll out the welcome mat.

Just because you aren’t in an office doesn’t mean your new employees should feel any less welcome. So here, from the HR geeks at WorkTango, are 10 tips for how to welcome a new employee to the team — whether you’re 6 feet apart or 60,000.

Tips to welcome a new employee (anywhere!)

1. Swag their desk at a distance

Here at WorkTango, we’re big believers in the first-day-of-work desk swag. We’re not talking binders of onboarding paperwork. This is the fun stuff — company T-shirts, branded water bottles, pens, snacks, you name it. So when we transitioned to work-from-home, we had to get crafty.

You don’t have to go door-to-door to deliver a swag bag (especially if your offices are dispersed across the world), but do consider mailing a first day care package. If that’s out of your budget, spring for an e-card — something simple that will still make them feel special.

Want to go the extra mile? Have the new hire’s team collaborate on a welcome card or craft a sign to hang in their home workspace, then send it for delivery on their first day of work.

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2. Send not one, but two welcome emails

The first two emails in your new hire’s inbox should both be from you. The first is a private email to the employee, welcoming them to the company and providing quick links to the employee directory, contact info for benefits and IT, and so on — all the things they need to succeed on the first day.

The second email should be a mass message from you to the company, announcing the new employee’s arrival and encouraging others to welcome them. Include the employee’s name, division, job title, and photo. In the digital age, it’s easy to be faceless. Give your new hire a boost by putting a face to the name for your entire organization.

Bonus points: have employees fill out a “new hire survey” to help us craft unique welcome emails. The result looks like this:

Welcome email to new employee

3. Fill their calendar

It’s challenging to get started with a blank slate. Before your new hire arrives, give them a boost by getting their work calendar set up and pre-filled with important training dates and any recurring meetings or stand-ups. Finally, schedule a time to meet with them 1-on-1 (more on that below).

4. Give recognition for a first-week morale boost

If you’re looking for fresh ideas on how to welcome a new employee, this is it. Using your organization’s Recognition & Rewards feed, give new hires public kudos within their first week. This public platform is a great way to have leadership and employees from other teams offer a warm welcome.

Bonus points: have your CEO use the public recognition feed to welcome every new employee to the team on their first day.

CEO recognizing two new employees on the Kazoo platform

Learn how to share public recognition with WorkTango →

5. Have their team schedule a virtual lunch

When we onboarded new employees in the office, the first-day lunch was a welcome respite from the piles of paperwork and face-blurring parade of people. Now, onboarding can be a lonely experience as your new hire works through paperwork at home alone.

Don’t: Overwhelm their first day with chock-a-block meetings. It’s a guaranteed ticket to Zoom Fatigue Central. Do: Reach out to the new employee’s manager or team to help coordinate a virtual lunch, with delivery meals covered by your company.

6. Share basic technology insights and helpful workplace tips

As HR professionals, new hires put a lot on our plate — benefits and insurance enrollment, coordination with payroll, certifications, and more.

It can feel overwhelming on your end. But don’t forget: This is your chance to make the confused, anxious human being in front of you feel welcome and supported. So take a minute to think through the first hour of your day. What are the logins you need? On which Slack channels do you get the most helpful updates? If you need to talk to someone in another department, how do you look them up? Get that new hire at least that much information — either verbally or in their welcome packet.

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7. Cover health insurance and benefits with patience

Prioritize benefits on day one by thoroughly explaining the company’s health insurance plans and making yourself available for follow-up questions before, during, and after their enrollment period.

Remember, new employees are navigating information overload on their first day, so your warmth, patience, and expertise go a long way toward providing a welcoming impression.

8. Get them set up with security

With a huge portion of the American workforce shifting online (the latest number we’ve heard is 37%), cybersecurity matters more than ever. Even if your company isn’t a full remote virtual workforce, you’re likely to be doing business with companies that are. So protect yourself from risk. Have a clear IT security on-boarding protocol and training for each new hire before you give them access to your technology.

9. Assign them an onboarding buddy (or two!)

Onboarding buddies can be lifesavers in the mayhem of the first week or month of a job. Identify members of the company who will be knowledgeable, enthusiastic go-tos. Then, work with your new hire’s manager to pair them with an onboarding buddy your employee can feel comfortable coming to with questions.

Tip: Your company culture champions may be different in your virtual workforce than they were in the office. The skills that make someone a great ambassador in real life don’t always translate online.

Bonus points: assign WorkTango two buddies- one from the new hire’s team, and one from another department. At a minimum, we used to recommend 1-on-1 coffee or lunch. Now, we suggest digital coffee dates.

How to reach out to a new employee as an onboarding buddy

10. Check back in

Onboarding doesn’t end at 5 p.m. on the new hire’s first day. Schedule time for a quick conversation towards the end of the employee’s first week to make sure they’re getting settled in and integrating with the company culture.

This will allow you to coordinate with their manager to ensure their success, and help the new hire feel supported in their position. Which, thanks to your rock star care and hard work, they are.

Ready to elevate your onboarding experience?

We hope these tips helped you recognize that how to welcome a new employee to the team hasn’t changed that much even when that employee’s remote. And we can give you a boost, too.

Learn more