3 Ways to Improve the Onboarding Process 


Onboarding new hires is challenging in the age of remote working. Do you have any tips on improving the process? 


Onboarding matters. Get it right, and your new hire will feel good about their decision to join your law firm or legal department and will likely reward your organization with high levels of productivity, loyalty and engagement. 

However, onboarding in the age of COVID-19 can be a challenge. New hires may work remotely all or some of the time, forcing you to rethink first-day traditions like the office tour, lunch with the team and meet-and-greets. Follow these three tips to make your onboarding process work for everyone. 

1. Make your process flexible 

If you’re using a one-size-fits-all onboarding checklist, replace it with a flowchart. But instead of a chronological list of processes (e.g., “Train new hire in our cloud-based case management platform”), you can have different branches depending on the answers to yes/no questions like, “Will the new hire work remotely full-time?” You can then add unique processes and questions to the remote worker branch of the flowchart: “Set up new hire with a VPN,” for example, or “Can the remote hire visit the office in their first week for in-person introductions?” Also remember that location isn’t the only way roles diverge. Short-term contract workers will need a streamlined onboarding — and their own branch in the flowchart. 

2. Plan a great first day 

Even seasoned professionals get first-day butterflies, and it’s your job to ease them. For on-site employees, brief the receptionist on the date and time of the newcomer’s arrival so the latter is expected when they walk in, then personally introduce them to the team. 

Invite remote hires to a virtual meet-and-greet on their first day, and make sure someone gives them a “tour” of the online channels your team uses to chat and collaborate. Whether newcomers are on-site or home-based, pair them with a buddy who can answer questions and provide support during the first few days. 

3. Follow up early and often 

Meet with employees at regular intervals from the second week onward to find out how things are going for them. Do they understand their role and how it aligns with the firm’s strategy? Has training met their needs, or do they need additional help or support? Have they begun to establish a report with their immediate coworkers, or would they like more one-on-one meetings with anyone? Would some extra flexibility in their work arrangements improve their productivity or work-life balance? 

Follow-up meetings are also your chance to gather feedback on the onboarding process itself. Not everything will run smoothly. Encourage newcomers to be transparent about any shortcomings, then use this information to improve the experience for the next round of hires. 



Jamy J. Sullivan is executive director of the legal practice at Robert Half, the world’s first and largest specialized talent solutions firm. Robert Half offers contract, temporary and permanent placement solutions, and is the parent company of Protiviti®, a global consulting firm. Visit RobertHalf.com.