News and Insights

Enhancing Remote Onboarding with a New-Hire Experience for Federal Employees

Joe Abusamra | July 21, 2020

remote onboarding

The federal government hires thousands of new employees each year, in an environment where teams are increasingly decentralized. Job decentralization, which was already underway, is now being accelerated by the current pandemic. Supervisors, teams, and HR organizations are challenged with how to onboard a new employee to the work, processes, and culture of a workplace. This challenge is increased when they can’t sit face-to-face as they are accustomed.

Despite the new reality, it’s still possible for new employees who are in remote locations to have the same excellent onboarding experience as an employee sitting in the same physical office as the rest of the team.

GovStrive is helping federal agencies address the onboarding challenges of this new reality today.

Why Onboarding Matters

Talented, focused, and motivated people make for a successful, mission-focused agency. Once an offer is made to a candidate, the job of creating a strong, high-performing workforce begins.

Indeed, a strong, successful onboarding program is critical to retaining new employees and reducing turnover, which in turn contributes to agencies achieving their mission, with talented, motivated employees. An Aberdeen Group study found that 86 percent of senior executives and HR staffing and recruiting functions felt that a new hire’s decision to stay with an organization long-term is made within the first six months of employment. According to The Interchange Group, “onboarding is a magic moment when new employees decide to stay engaged or become disengaged.”

A personalized, interactive onboarding journey can go a long way to ensure new hires get off on the right foot – even if working remotely. Helping new hires feel like they are embarking on a new career and an important part of helping the agency achieve its mission is a big, yet important, leap from simply “starting a new job.” The key is to embrace an empathetic approach to orienting and integrating new hires to the agency, mission, values, and culture. Personalized communication not only forms the foundation of new relationships between the new hire and their supervisor and team but also provides the opportunity to instill what the agency is all about.

Numerous studies confirm the importance of onboarding to an organization’s success. Glassdoor found that organizations with a strong onboarding process improve new hire retention by 82% and productivity by over 70%. The Aberdeen Group has found that 86% of executives believe that a new hire’s decision to stay with an organization long-term is made within the first six months of employment, so agencies can’t afford to miss this opportunity, even during a pandemic.

Getting onboarding right in a more remote world is more challenging, but no less important. And with the pandemic rewriting the rules across the HR landscape, virtual onboarding is fast becoming the new norm. Even when employees head back to the office, virtual onboarding can make a big difference well before your new hire starts.

How is it done?

New Hires – a Personalized Experience

Whether an employee will be in an office or remotely, engaging with them should start early – ideally, even from the point of tentative selection. In fact, the earlier personalized relationships between the new hire, supervisor, and agency begin, the better. Exciting, meaningful communications can include introductory emails, fun and informative videos, images, and social media links, to name a few. By communicating regularly for several weeks before Entry on Duty (EOD), the new hire is much more likely to feel like part of the team on Day 1 of employment.

For those employees beginning their employment remotely, promptly establishing this connection is even more critical. And for these new hires, virtual onboarding should continue beyond the EOD, with virtual “onboarding buddies,” training webinars, and continued personalized engagement. All these actions will help the new hire be fully engaged and immersed in agency culture. This engagement in turn both makes the employee more quickly productive and more likely to stay with the agency.

Supervisors – Improved Relationships and Stronger Teams

A study by LinkedIn found that 72% of employees say one-on-one time with their direct manager is the most important aspect of onboarding. This highlights the importance of establishing this relationship as soon as possible. A personal touch is critical to a supervisor and team creating a positive new-hire experience. Communicating regularly with new hires can relieve many of those first-day jitters many employees experience and help them feel like part of the team even before they start. Those feelings of comfort and being integral to the team will encourage the employee to more quickly make meaningful contributions.

GovStrive – Remote Onboarding for Today’s New Environment

Launching the new-hire journey with an outstanding experience that begins well before Day 1 and carries through the employee’s first days and weeks is viable even in a virtual environment, helping address a key challenge faced by federal HR leaders today.

GovStrive has been helping federal HR organizations meet the evolving demands of virtual onboarding since the start of the pandemic, and our work continues today.

We work with your HR and other federal leaders to ensure your agency is proactive in facing today’s onboarding challenges. Our team works not only with your HR team but with all other departments tied to the onboarding process, such as your financial and technology offices.

To ensure new hires are off and running from well before EOD to well after, we’ll help establish virtual onboarding buddies, remote training sessions, and welcoming webinars, virtual team meetings, one-on-one check-ins, and electronic welcoming kits. These are some of the tools we’ve implemented across federal agencies to speed the productivity of new hires and improve retention rates. Our thoughtful approach to remote onboarding sets new hires up for success and avoids the distress of feeling unimportant, confused, or regretful of the job choice.

We’ve partnered closely with federal agencies to deliver services and strategies that deliver positive onboarding experiences without burdening the HR organization, hiring managers, or supervisors. The result is help for all parties that helps agencies achieve their onboarding goals for an enhanced and seamless onboarding experience.

Visit and contact us today to see how we can help you implement a virtual onboarding plan for your agency.