New Hire Orientation Programs for Remote Teams – Nine Points to Keep in Mind

new hire training program

According to a January 2012 study by the research firm IDC, the global mobile workforce will reach an impressive 1.3 billion workers (37% of the world’s working population) within the next 5 years. The exponential growth of remote teams in enterprises is inevitable in today’s global markets. The task of inculcating organizational culture, values and engaging new hires in employee orientation programs is a big challenge for HR leaders.

Remote Teams – Challenged by Engagement, addressed by Design

The fundamental challenge in successfully conducting New Hire Orientation Program for Remote Teams is – Engagement. Employee Engagement is vital not just to retain new hires but also to help them productively contribute to the company’s goals. Therefore, the Design of the New Hire Orientation program becomes significant.
Thomas Friedmann – the Pulitzer winner NY Times journalist talks about “flatteners” that he sees as leveling the global playing field. The prime ones he mentions are “Outsourcing” & “Offshoring”. He argues that these two factors have allowed companies to split service and manufacturing activities into components which can be subcontracted and performed in the most efficient, cost-effective way. Hence Remote Teams are a reality for enterprises today in the volatile economic times. The design of the New Hire Orientation program for Remote Teams should address the needs of:-

  • New Hires
  • HR and Training Manager, and
  • Organizations

New Hire Orientation Program – What New Hires need?

Keeping the new hires in perspective, the program design should take into account:-
#1) Communication – The explosion in Web 2.0 applications, social networking, and social learning tools has given rise to the “plugged in” workforce. Therefore, it is a given that your new hires also default to that. This requires that your communication be clear, timely and apparently “always on”.
#2) Optimum mix of Online and Off-line – Given the remote nature of the teams, the new hire orientation program could be predominantly online. Off-line elements could take the form of physical meetings, phone calls, and even internet chats. Online and offline mix in the program should strive to create a sense of belonging amongst the new hires.
#3) Flexibility – Not only in time but also in the choice of overall courses in the New Employee Orientation program. This would give the participants a sense of control over the overall structure of the program.
#4) Interactivity – This would encourage new hires to pro-actively engage with the Organization and exhibit desired behaviors.
#5) Sense of Community – If Training Managers can crack this, success is guaranteed. While Remote Teams are remote by definition, they are actually connected as a community. Incorporating social networking, collaboration and enterprise gamification techniques like rewards, badges, and leaderboards, a sense of purposeful camaraderie could be built and nurtured amongst the new hires and the overall Team.

New Employee Orientation Program – What the Training Manager needs?

Keeping the HR and Training Managers in perspective, the program design should take into account the following:-
#6) Standardization – The standardization of the new hire orientation program would provide scale and control.
#7) Outcomes and Assessment – Though challenging, training managers would do well to link outcomes and their assessment of all new employee orientation programs.
#8) Feedback – Lastly, it is important to close the loop by collecting continuous feedback from the new hires.

What about the needs of the Organization?

#9) Organisations like employees evolve and go through various stages of changes – Mergers and Acquisitions, IPO, restructuring and other corporate actions. A mature organization has more robust and scalable strategies in place, while an upcoming enterprise is still experimenting. Any new hire orientation program should take this into account when addressing remote teams.
Researchers have shown that a successful New Hire Orientation leads to:

  • Higher Job Satisfaction
  • Career Effectiveness
  • Enterprise Commitment
  • Enhanced Performance and Less Stress
  • Cost Savings for Enterprises

We welcome the views of HR Leaders, Training Managers, and New Hires about their experiences with New Employee Orientation programs. What more could be done to make new employee orientation programs more engaging and effective?