A Guide to Digital Employee Onboarding

2nd September 2020

digital onboarding

The coronavirus pandemic has led to businesses all over rethinking their strategies. With the majority of staff working from home for a significant proportion of time, it became necessary to move all kinds of processes over to the digital world – and this included new employee onboarding.

Ordinarily, when a new recruit starts their employment, the management team invests time and effort into their face-to-face support. This includes properly welcoming them, delivering training, and setting them up from an admin perspective. Moving all of this over to online platforms might be something of a daunting task, however, with our guide to digital onboarding, you can make the process seamless.

6 Digital Employee Onboarding Solutions

There are six main areas to consider when it comes to successfully onboarding a new employee, digitally. The aim is to achieve as many of the normal steps that you would if you were able to welcome them into employment face-to-face. Consider the following:

  1. Ensure all the systems they will need are ready to use
  2. Set them up with HR & payroll
  3. Safely send them company policies
  4. Communicate with them regularly
  5. Arrange role-specific training online or on the phone
  6. Stimulate online conversation between colleagues

Read on to discover how to achieve each of these six steps in the most efficient and effective way.

1.      Ensure all the systems they will need are ready to use

A week or so before your new employee starts, it’s a good idea to make a list of all the systems they will need to use and get them set up and ready early. While this might be something you already do when a new employee starts, it’s all the more important if that employee will be working from home/remotely. This is because if there were to be any delays to their systems working while they’re in the office, they can use this time to get to know their colleagues and the office itself. If they’re based at home, however, this will simply lead to wasted time as they wait for the problem to be fixed.

computer systems

2.      Set them up with HR & payroll

A new starter is likely to have HR and payroll at the back of their mind when they first start until they get confirmation that they have been set up and will be correctly paid when the time comes. In most office settings, a new employee would be asked to complete a form with all their personal details, which could then be safely stored in a GDPR-compliant way. Out of the office, however, such details need to be exchanged in a different – but equally secure – way. There are online services that can be used to do this, otherwise, sending a form using secure post, with a pre-paid return envelope, is another option. Learn more about staying GDPR-compliant.

3.      Safely send employees company policies

Similar consideration should be given to how company policies are exchanged. It does not make sense to ask a remote worker to trawl through hard copies of policies, which you might ask an office-based worker to do. While you could send policies via email, and ask an employee to print, sign and return them, a much easier (and environmentally friendly) method would be to send them digitally. There are systems that enable online signatures to be added, which negate the need to print and send paperwork. Any policies that do get sent digitally should be clearly labelled so that either the sender or recipient can find them again in the future.

4.      Communicate with them regularly

Regardless of how long they have been at a company, remote employees often remark on their feeling lonely and forgotten by the management team. It’s important to do what you can to avoid this, especially when the worker is a new recruit. Ensure they feel welcomed and 100% supported by calling them on a regular basis – not only to discuss their work but also find out if they have any problems, and how they are doing in general. There should be a few different members of the management team who call, not just the employee’s immediate superior.

digital onboarding communication

5.      Arrange role-specific training online or on the phone

Training can be one of the most difficult processes to arrange for employees who work remotely. It’s important to make sure that such workers have the same opportunities to ask questions and receive feedback, as office-based staff would. Spend time collating the right training materials, considering the following points:

  • The end of each training session should include a Q&A section, enabling participants to ask questions or clarify anything they need to.
  • If relevant, record demonstrations of activities to accompany the training. This will allow visual learners to see and understand exactly what’s being taught.
  • To help keep remote trainees engaged, make training as interactive as possible. This could be with the inclusion of games and quizzes.

The most important thing to remember when administering training to remote employees is to make sure they have understood and taken it all on board. Again, regular communication will help with this.

6.      Stimulate online conversation between colleagues

Another way to avoid new remote workers feeling lonely is to encourage conversation between staff. It’s probably not feasible to host phone calls or video conferences regularly, so make use of the huge number of platforms there are for instant online messaging. While this may need to be monitored to avoid over-use for social conversation, instant messaging platforms are a great way to help staff get to know each other. These are especially useful during a remote-workers’ first few weeks, when they are likely to have any number of seemingly trivial questions, from ‘where can I find this document’ to ‘when should I go on lunch’.


Good onboarding is vital to help you retain staff; even more so when those staff are not working among colleagues in the office. It’s all too easy for those working from home to feel abandoned, and even lose sight of why they took the job in the first place. Make sure this doesn’t happen by investing time and attention into keeping them on track, feeling positive and well-taken-care-of. Find out more about motivating remote employees.