Currently, more than half of the American workforce is working remotely. Whether you employ one person or hundreds, onboarding and managing US remote employees from a different country may present some challenges. As your trusted advisor, Foothold America will share key business practices to help you effectively onboard and manage your US remote employees.
It is possible you will never meet your US employee(s) in person. That means connection, relationship building, and effective management are more important than ever.
The time to consider how to manage your remote US employees best is during the interview stage.
Being able to work remotely is a skill in itself. As such, independent of the job requirements, remote workers need to possess certain qualities to be successful. A successful remote worker should have good technical skills to handle technical challenges and navigate systems independently, have great communication skills, be self-motivated and self-disciplined, have good time management skills, and show initiative.
During the interview stages, it’s crucial to ask questions of your potential hire that will indicate their ability to successfully work independently in a remote environment.
Some questions to consider are:
- Have you previously worked remotely? How did you find it?
- What do you enjoy the most about a remote work environment?
- What do you find challenging about remote work, and how have you tacked these challenges in the past?
- When working remotely, how do you stay motivated and engaged in your work?
- How do you manage distractions?
- How are you planning to build effective relationships with your remote co-workers?
- How do you best prefer to communicate with co-workers?
- What tools have you used in the past to work effectively while remote?
- How do you maintain a work-life balance?
- What is your experience with working with an international team distributed across different time zones?
Once it is determined that the candidate is a good remote hire, it is time to onboard and manage your remote US employee effectively.
Start them off on the right foot
How employers handle the first few months of a new employee’s experience is crucial. The average length of onboarding can extend from one to three months, depending on the role, the size of the company and the level of training required. While it is time-consuming for the employer and new hire, onboarding should be seen as an opportunity to set clear and realistic expectations for everyone involved.
A study conducted by Kronos Inc. found that more than 25% of employees would leave the company within a year after a bad onboarding experience, and according to Forbes, organisations with poor onboarding programs had 22% employee turnover within 45 days.
The success or failure of onboarding new employees depends on how well you integrate and include them within your organisation.
As you only get the chance to make a first impression once, think about what activities you should include as part of your new employee orientation, with the end goal of driving retention and performance.
Some activities to consider adding to your formal onboarding process are:
- Send a gift box to the new employee with company merch.
- Send them a First Day email with a basic schedule outlining what the employee can expect during their first week or two
- As a hiring manager, consider doing an entry interview with your new employee to learn more about what it’s important to them, what they like and how the company can best support them.
- Ensure that the employee has the proper equipment and adequate home setup whilst having access to all the programs that would enable them to work remotely successfully
- Announce the new employee to the entire company and on social media.
- Introduce the employee to all co-workers they will be interacting with
- Assign an onboarding buddy or mentor.
- Prepare a new hire presentation about the company’s history, mission, and culture.
- Present to the employee the company’s policies and procedures and share with them the employee handbook.
Set clear expectations and remote productivity standards.
When your new hire starts, as an employer, you want to ensure that your employee understands what is expected from them and has a grasp of the importance of their ongoing activities towards the overall departmental and business goals. With clear goals, direction and expectancy, employees can understand their contribution to the business and perform better.
To achieve this, consider adding the below steps to your onboarding:
- Provide your new hire with a job description which includes well-defined accountabilities. Clearly outline any processes they might need to follow as part of their day-to-day job and outline their decision rights to help them understand where their decision autonomy begins and ends.
- As a supervisor, share with your new employee what your leadership style is, what your expectations are, how you like to be communicated and what your boundaries are. Make sure that the employer also gets the chance to share with you how they like to be communicated with and receive feedback, what their boundaries are, and what tools they need to allow them to be more effective in their role.
- Present to the employee your department’s plan for the year and, together, align on the priorities and goals for the next few months. Set learning and personal goals to help your employee get up and running in their role and within the department.
- Consider conducting conduct a personality assessment to determine communication and work style preferences. At Foothold America, we use Belbin, The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, DiSC
- Ensure that you schedule regular One to One meetings with your new hire, during which you can address new goals and objectives, recognise achievements and provide feedback.
- Create a professional development plan for growth, with specific metrics and KPIs
- Discuss any additional training that might be needed for the employee to be successful in their role
- Ask for their feedback on the onboarding process and if they feel that they are receiving the necessary support
Keep your remote workers engaged and combat isolation
While working remotely has its perks, like saving time on commutes and encouraging a better work-life balance, it also has some downsides. As they are not in an office with their colleagues, remote workers can feel less engaged and connected to their company, which can hurt productivity and performance. With new employees, the feeling of isolation that can sometimes come from working remotely can be felt sooner, as it might take a while longer for them to find their place in their new role, their new company and with their new colleagues. To ensure that your remote team is happy, efficient and productive, keeping them engaged is key.
To do so, ensure that you:
- Communicate deliberately and on a regular basis whilst building trust and rapport – small talk can go a long way!
- Recognise and reward employees for good performance.
- Prioritise work-life balance within your organisation. Consider offering mental health benefits and providing mental health resources. For more ways to promote the mental well-being of your remote employees, check out this article.
- Equip your team with the collaboration tools they need to work effectively with each other.
- Ask for feedback.
- Allocate funds to improving their home office.
- Offer professional development opportunities.
- Consider providing special perks or benefits.
- Consider implementing a mentoring program.
- Create virtual events such as virtual happy hours or virtual team-building activities.
- Bring employees into town or visit employees for social events and celebrations.
As a trusted employment and people management partner, we understand the common challenges that may be presented when onboarding and managing remote employees.
Managing remote workers require discipline from both you and your team, and it is important to have a clear plan in place to effectively keep your employers connected and engaged and allow them to thrive. Invest in your employees and organisation by implementing some, if not all, of our tips. 😊