October 29, 2020 | watsimp

How can we improve new hire success rates of remote hires?

In April, a co-founder I know was very excited that his was one of the few companies that was still hiring. Opportunities to attract top talent had gone up, because most companies had a hiring freeze or were downsizing. Now six months later he is completely stressed with his new hire “fail” rate. Over 70% of the new hires who joined during the “remote hiring” period, were struggling to succeed at the company. These were people who were great on paper and had done well in the interviews. He is desperately trying to figure out what went wrong and how to get it right!

As remote work goes mainstream, more and more companies are hiring talent that is located remotely. The opportunity to bring on board talent with no geographical constraints seems utopian. However, many companies are struggling to make newly hired remote employees successful!

Did you know that the average new hire failure rate (within the first 18 months) is 46%? This percentage goes up significantly when the new hire starts work remotely!

So what are remote new employees struggling with? And more importantly, what can we do to help them?

  • Productivity

Most employees use month one to figure out their job- understand where to find the information they need, who to go to, explore existing systems and processes etc. Basically, all things that are required for them to become productive and focused on delivery as soon as possible. New joiners whose first few months are spent remotely are finding it very difficult to find their way around the organization, systems and processes. Not knowing who to ask or go to for help makes it worse!

Some companies have implemented a “buddy” system that works effectively. A buddy is a colleague/ team member who has been with the company atleast for 3-6 months and knows his/her way around the organization, systems and process. Creating a single point of contact makes it easier for the new hire to figure things out quickly from a work perspective.

  • Team Connections

We all know that building strong work relationships with our colleagues is critical to our success. And we have all invested time, energy and effort to build this every time we join a new company or team. Joining an existing team as a remote new hire makes building these critical relationships very hard.

Some of the hacks that team managers are using to help their new hires build these connections are-

  1. Running “Know your team” virtual team events. These are a combination of a team social event as well as more intensive team bonding activity
  2. Rotational pairing- pairing the new hire for 1 or 2 weeks at a time with another team member for delivery. This pairing changes every 1 to 2 weeks. This gives the new joiner enough time working closely with multiple colleagues on real delivery. Since this is on rotation, the new hire is able to build a rapport with multiple colleagues within his/her first 3 months in the company.
  • Manager Sponsorship

As leaders, we play a critical role in setting up our teams for success. With remote new joiners, our responsibility as people leaders increases even further. Many of the effective leaders I know are doing the following to help their new remote hires

  1. Setting expectations (& goals) within the first one month
  2. Scheduling weekly check-ins with the new hire for the first 3 months
  3. Ensuring two way feedback and discussions happen regularly

Supporting every one of our team members to be successful is our responsibility as leaders. Everything we can do to achieve this, for our remote hires, will make us and our teams better!

In the words of  John Kenneth Galbraith, economist and diplomat- “All of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common: it was the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time. This, and not much else, is the essence of leadership.”

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