Onboarding and offboarding play a fundamental role in the smooth running of every company. These experiences have long-lasting effects on employees, so it is important to make these processes engaging and memorable.

Research by Brandon Hall Group found that companies with a strong onboarding program improve retention by 82 percent.  However, the offboarding experience is often overlooked, but no less important, as departing on a bitter note can have long-term consequences. According to a Glassdoor survey, 70 percent of job seekers research company reviews — many of which are written by former employees — before making career decisions.

In a remote work setting, creating a structured onboarding and offboarding program has an added complexity; there are distinct challenges such as communication gaps, differing time zones, as well as contrasting cultural backgrounds, so it’s important to adjust your existing processes to this new way of working.

A fundamental aspect to keep in mind when designing onboarding and offboarding programs is compliance. Managing global teams means juggling varying laws and regulations, so compliance should remain a top priority during each stage of the employee lifecycle to protect your company’s assets and information, avoid legal problems, and keep your reputation intact. In this article, we will explain how to ensure compliance for remote teams throughout the onboarding and offboarding stages.

What is onboarding?

Normally, a new employee’s first week is dedicated to onboarding, which consists of activities that familiarize them with the company’s vision, mission, values, and culture. This helps new hires get to know the organizational structure and the particularities of their role. Simply put, it’s the first impression your new talent will have of your company.

Despite its importance, a study by Gallup showed that only 12 percent of employees think their employer does a great job onboarding new team members. Onboarding shouldn’t be reduced to introduction meetings and manager check-ins. You can go the extra mile by assigning a senior employee to each new hire; this will give them a fellow peer to turn to if they have questions during their first week on the job.

A structured onboarding process is key to making remote employees feel connected to a company, even if they are scattered all over the world. It also helps speed time to productivity and reduces the margin of error in the long run.

You can ensure a compliant onboarding process by completing the following tasks:

Verify and collect required paperwork: Paperwork can be extremely tedious, but documentation, such as employment contracts, are vital to meet in-country standards as well as clearly outline job expectations for your new talent.

To make this process fully compliant, make sure your new hires understand the employment terms and sign confidentiality agreements, anti-harassment policies, health insurance forms, and termination clauses.  To make this process fully compliant, make sure your new hires understand the employment terms and sign confidentiality agreements, anti-harassment policies, health insurance forms, and termination clauses.

An important point to consider during this initial phase is employee privacy. The obligations and rights concerning the employer-employee relationship can vary significantly from country to country, and these nuances must be factored in when creating policies for international teams.

While employers usually have access to information on company-owned equipment, it’s still important to have your employees’ consent. A company can typically monitor the following aspects:

  • Business emails
  • Work management platforms
  • Web browsing history
  • Geographic location

Communicate workflow processes: According to SHRM, poor communication can lead to damaged relationships, broken trust, and higher levels of anger and hostility in the workplace.

Therefore, communicating your company’s workflow processes in a clear and dynamic way will help streamline assignments, increase team morale, and, above all, help employees understand job expectations.

You can communicate and reaffirm company processes through virtual meetings, handbooks, and emails. All information must be shared and answered via company email and a secure server to reduce information breaches.

Provide job-specific training: A study conducted by Upwork predicted that in the next five years, 36.2 million employees will work remotely. That represents an 87 percent increase compared to pre-pandemic statistics. Therefore, traditional training programs must be reevaluated to help remote workforces thrive.

If a company does not properly vet an employee or fails to provide job-specific training, it can lead to costly lawsuits for workplace negligence.

For example, if a worker is asked to use a piece of equipment but lacks the necessary technical skills, the employer could potentially be held responsible for any damage the employee causes to themselves or others at the workplace for not providing the proper training procedures in advance.

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What is offboarding?

Ending an employment relationship is never a pleasant thing to do, whether it’s a voluntary resignation or a layoff. However, you can make this a smooth transition by creating a structured offboarding program — this not only helps avoid future legal problems, but it nurtures your employer brand.

A report by People Path and Cornell University found that about one-third of former employees maintain connections to previous employers; and 15 percent of new hires come from referrals from former employees. Therefore, leaving a good impression on departing employees can make your company stand out and help attract future global talent.

You can ensure a compliant offboarding process with the following actions:

Notify employment termination: When terminating a remote employee, it is best to do so face to face in a video call. That way you can have a private conversation and calmly explain the reasons behind the termination.

Termination policies are different in every country, which makes compliance vital to avoid future legal consequences for your company.

For example, in the United States, at-will employment allows employers to freely terminate workers at any time without prior notice.

In the UK, on the other hand, employers must give one week’s notice for each year of service, or 12 weeks’ notice if employed for 12 years or more. Staying on top of these country-specific regulations will help ensure compliance during the offboarding process.

In the UK, on the other hand, employers must give one week’s notice for each year of service, or 12 weeks’ notice if employed for 12 years or more. Staying on top of these country-specific regulations will help ensure compliance during the offboarding process.

Protect intellectual property: Did you know that 20 percent of companies have experienced data breaches from former employees?

Here are a few actionable tips to keep data safe:

  • Boost cross-functional collaboration between HR and IT departments.
  • Avoid using shared accounts.
  • Change passwords on a regular basis.
  • Deactivate departing employees’ logins and email account immediately.
  • Schedule periodic data backups.

Remote workforces are more susceptible to data breaches because dataflow cannot be monitored in the same way as on-site teams. A few additional contributing factors are:

  • Using personal devices to access sensitive company information.
  • Connecting to public Wi-Fi networks.
  • Storing company data in the cloud.

The legal consequences of data breaches can be disastrous for both your reputation and your finances. For example, British Airways had to pay a GBP 20 million fine in 2020 for security flaws that facilitated a cyber-attack, which resulted in the leak of personal data of customers and staff.

Provide the adequate severance and compensation for dismissal: The final severance payment an employee is entitled to is calculated based on the reasons for termination and the length of service — it’s important to research in-country regulations to avoid legal problems such as lawsuits for unjust payment.

For example, there is no statutory severance in Germany; however, many employers provide 50 percent of the monthly salary per year of service. In China, on the other hand, severance pay is equivalent to one month’s full salary for each year of service.

Any misstep in the termination process, particularly in terms of severance payment obligations, can raise serious and costly compliance issues.

The key to a successful onboarding and offboarding experience

Remember that an employee’s first impression is just as important as the final farewell. If these processes are disregarded, it not only affects your employees’ performance, but it can also tarnish your reputation, making it difficult to retain and acquire future talent.

Compliance helps you avoid legal problems and safeguard company assets. In the long run, a structured onboarding and offboarding program can help you become an employer of choice and stand out on a global scale.

For more information on how to create a best-in-class onboarding and offboarding experience for remote teams, contact Globalization Partners. Our fully compliant Global Growth Platform™ helps companies build and scale international teams, and enables companies to manage the entire HR process, from recruiting and onboarding to compliant payroll setup and offboarding – all with one platform.

Learn more about our platform and request a proposal today.

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