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7 Things Any Small Business Can Do Today To Give Employees a Better Remote Onboarding Experience

7 Things Any Small Business Can Do Today To Give Employees a Better Remote Onboarding Experience

Image: A YNAB employee hand delivers a welcome package to their new colleagues' home. 

One in four new hires quit within the first six months. That’s what studies by Recruting.com and BambooHR each found.

I’ll give you a moment to read that again. A quarter of all the people who you see from interview to onboarding will leave. (!)

Here’s another stat for you: Organizations with a strong onboarding process improve new hire retention by 82% and productivity by over 70%. Companies with shaky onboarding programs lose the confidence of their candidates and are more likely to say goodbye in the first year.

How to improve remote onboarding experiences

Spread across 33 states – with some team members even reporting from overseas – You Need A Budget (YNAB) has been remote since the dawn of its time. YNAB climbed to the top of the 2020 Best Small Workplaces™ list this year, so let that be evidence of the company’s flourishing remote culture.

Over the years, YNAB has developed some onboarding tactics to help create a great experience for team members right off the bat. I’m not talking about product training and W-4 forms. I mean those human touches that make new team members feel appreciated.

Here are YNAB’s tips for building a sense of camaraderie and intimacy early on:

1. Mail a fun welcome package

On their first day, new YNAB team members receive a welcome package in the mail. YNAB tries to schedule the delivery so that the package arrives just in time for the team member’s first day. Wrapped up inside is YNAB swag, along with some of the company’s favorite books and a short booklet about YNAB’s vision and company mission.

2. Get employees to write a bucket list

Every new hire is encouraged to write a 50-item Bucket List. The lists are held in a giant spreadsheet, internally available to everyone. YNAB told us it’s a great way to get to know people, because when you read their Bucket List you think, “Oh! You want to climb the highest point in each U.S. state? Intriguing. I’m going to have to talk to you about that at the next team meeting.” It’s also a sneaky way of getting birthday gift ideas.

3. Gift a welcome meal

Celebrating special events and milestones helps employees feel valued. YNAB gives new hires a gift card so they can go out for dinner with their family or friends to celebrate their new job. If managers have done some successful sleuthing in the interview process, the gift card will be for the employee’s favorite restaurant.

4. Collect and send personalized welcome notes

In the week leading up to a newbies first day, YNAB leaders collect personalized welcome notes from everyone on the team. YNAB said it’s not just the new hires who enjoy the personal notes, but current employees get a boost out of writing them. 

5. Have local employees’ hand-deliver

When the new hire lives near other employees, YNAB will often organize dropping off the welcome package in person (wearing masks of course). Meeting a friendly face on your first day is a fast way to bridge connections from the real world to Zoom calls.

6. Elect a friendly onboarding buddy

Being the new hire can be daunting. With so many “dumb questions” to ask, this is one area where sharing a physical office wins. YNAB nominates a peer on the new hire’s team to “walk alongside” them the first few weeks. This person is an extra support and there to answer the hundreds of tiny questions that the new employee might be hesitant to ask co-workers.

7. Connect via video more than you would normally

YNAB makes sure there are plenty of video calls between new hires and various members of leadership. They also set up video calls with individual teams, giving plenty of opportunity to learn about the business and ask questions.

It takes more time to understand each other’s communication styles without the in-person opportunity to observe body language and how managers work with others. YNAB’s extra “facetime” helps cultivate a bond early on that leads to great communication.

Want to get a benchmark on the level of trust in your organization? Since 1992, we’ve surveyed over 100 million employees around the world and used those deep insights to define what makes a great workplace. This research is the science behind our Trust Index survey. It’s the only survey that lets you benchmark against Best Workplaces like YNAB. Ask us about it today.


Claire Hastwell