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So, you’re a leader at what is *usually* an office-based workplace but you’re currently in lockdown, working from home. Your team is expanding, and you’ve just hired the peeeeerfect person (yay!). She starts Monday! But wait. You’ve never onboarded remotely?? Well, by reading this article you’re taking a STEP in the right direction!

Research by an onboarding software company tells us that employees are more likely to stay with a company for 3+ years if they experience great onboarding. If they don’t stay, SHRM estimates that it costs 6 – 9 months of an employee’s salary to identify and onboard a replacement. It’s not something you want to get wrong.

As someone who’s recently joined Inventium, I want to share the awesome things that we do to make the onboarding experience out of this world. I even caught myself saying that I’ll have to be taken out in a coffin because I’m never leaving. For context, we all work from home and I’m the first Queenslander (GO THA MAROOOOONS) on the team. In my first week of joining everyone was in lockdown (some still are!) and face-to-face team building was just not an option. Despite that, there’s one activity that really fast-tracked me becoming part of the furniture here at Inventium.

It’s called “STEP-tember”.

It’s our version of a month-long step challenge with two competing teams of 5 people, and a WhatsApp group that keeps us talking and sharing pics while frolicking in the sunshine. Our CEO Mish, also threw in all sorts of challenges to keep it interesting. I’ve learnt about hobbies, talents, families, strengths and characters all without being in anyone’s physical presence. An absolute genius idea to add to onboarding. It’s low tech, great for mental (and physical) health and completely free! All you need is a social app, a spreadsheet, some competitive spirit and away you go!

No wonder it’s worked a treat since a 2020 study found that using gamification in onboarding was preferred by new hires to traditional approaches. The best rated features were those that facilitated social integration and team building.

According to our GM Georgia, the timing of STEP-tember was a complete coincidence, but you know what they say – some of the greatest early inventions were accidents!

I was also really impressed that all onboarding hygiene factors were covered too. My technology arrived on my doorstep the week before I started, preloaded with all the software and accounts I’d need. My induction plan was a 15 page document outlining what I’ll be doing on a week-by-week basis, and was accompanied by a checklist to keep me on track. I’ve never had such a kink-free first week where everything worked and I knew exactly what was expected of me for the next 6 months. But wait, there’s more!

Research from Microsoft identified that the biggest challenge for their 267 recent remote new hires, was in building strong social connections with their team. Another study which surveyed over 350 global HR leaders cites frequent, transparent, two-way communication as a key contributor in preventing people from feeling disconnected from their organisations. Not surprisingly, they found that personal check-ins were rated most highly in the remote onboarding process. Consistent with this research, my onboarding process also included:

  • A buddy! Inventi Sasha has been an absolute rockstar in helping me find stuff, get up to speed and basically be a better work human.
  • A team meeting at 12pm on my first day so I got to virtually meet everyone. We ran a “get to know you” activity where I had to guess which “things” were relevant to which team member (e.g. who teaches pilates).
  • Catch ups with one of our amazing team were pre-organised in my calendar for each day of my first two weeks to build social connectedness.

The next time you’re onboarding someone remotely, make sure you’re checking off all the onboarding hygiene factors. Then think about how you can incorporate gamification, or go ahead and throw a STEP challenge into the mix!