Global onboarding best practices

Set up new employees for long-term success.

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When you bring new employees into your organization, a comprehensive onboarding process sets them up for long-term retention and success. The same is also true for global onboarding, but it can be more complicated than what you’re used to. 

Global onboarding needs to take factors like culture, language, and time zones into account. Wherever your new hires are located, a properly established global onboarding process is the most effective way to integrate them into your company. 

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A list of global onboarding best practices

1. Start before the employee’s first day

To make it possible for your new international employee to hit the ground running on their first day, your onboarding process needs to start beforehand. This practice is called employee preboarding. 

Grant your new hires access to your online onboarding portal soon after they accept your offer. The portal should have all the information they need before starting their new positions and include features like translation tools so the material’s accessible to everyone. 

You’ll also want to start introducing new hires to the other employees they’ll be working alongside. Starting a new job can be isolating, especially for workers going through remote onboarding, so these introductions can make a big difference.    

2. Take different time zones into consideration

Navigating time zone differences is an inherent part of the global hiring process. And the more countries you expand to, the more time zones you will have to deal with. 

If you’re holding synchronous virtual meetings, take international workers’ hours into account as much as possible. Scheduling software can help ensure that everyone knows exactly when a meeting will take place, regardless of their local time zone. 

3. Build different forms of onboarding

Standardizing employee onboarding is a simple way to make sure all employees learn vital information about your company. But remember that there are rarely one-size-fits-all solutions in the business world. Making several versions of your onboarding process can make it more effective. Consider making specific onboarding programs for:

  • Internal hires: Promoted internal employees also need onboarding, but you can usually pare the process down considerably. Cut out general information about your company and just keep development plans specific to the new role, introductions to new team members, and departmental details. 
  • Specific roles: It often makes sense to tailor your onboarding process for different departments or roles. For roles like sales or customer service that experience high task volumes, you may want to create a modified onboarding process. Also, consider whether your contractor onboarding needs to be the same as employee onboarding.  
  • Different locations: Depending on how many people you’re going to hire from a given country, it might be worthwhile to create a country-specific onboarding process. 

4. Be mindful of cultural differences

As you build a team of global employees, you will be exposed to many different cultures and social norms. An effective global onboarding strategy is respectful and mindful of those differences. 

You can help your employees bridge cultural divides in the onboarding process by holding icebreaker sessions, for example. Encourage employees to respectfully ask questions and educate each other about their respective cultures. In the end, they’ll be better informed and more understanding of one another. 

As an employer, you should pay close attention to differences in each country’s working culture. Did you know, for instance, that Portugal requires employers to pay mandatory 13th and 14th salaries for employees? Make sure your payroll calendar reflects different pay schedules and public holidays for each new global hire.

5. Make room for real-time communication

Forming connections with coworkers is one of the biggest struggles for global employees. To facilitate those connections, make sure to include real-time communication during the onboarding process.

Videos and written materials are great, but remember to include scheduled calls with management, peer mentors, and new teammates. 

6. Don’t forget about accessibility

It’s important to keep in mind that many international hires are from countries where English is not the first language. Slang, idioms, abbreviations, and industry-specific terms can be confusing, even for fluent English speakers.

During the onboarding process, make sure all resources you provide are available in writing and accessible at any time. Reading is often easier than keeping up with fast-paced conversations.

Be patient with new employees who stumble over their words occasionally or misunderstand a phrase as they get acclimated. 

7. Schedule check-ins down the line

Onboarding doesn’t end after your international hire’s first day or first week on the job. Think of it as a process that extends for at least 90 days after an employee starts. It can even last for as long as a year.  

Keep the lines of communication between the new hire and their manager open throughout the whole process. To make sure everyone’s on the same page, schedule regular check-ins on days one, five, 10, 30, 60, and 90. These are typical weekly and monthly benchmarks, and you can always add more sessions as needed. 

Global employee onboarding condensed

Following these tips to develop your global employee onboarding process is an investment that will pay off in the end. 

Focus on creating a system that will get every new employee on the same page and ready to go, regardless of where in the world they’re located. Different time zones, cultures, and languages can make onboarding more complicated, but it’s still achievable with the right planning and tools. 

Oyster’s global contractor platform simplifies this process. With Oyster, you can set up your global team in minutes with a few simple steps.

About Oyster

Oyster is a global employment platform designed to enable visionary HR leaders to find, engage, pay, manage, develop, and take care of a thriving distributed workforce. Oyster lets growing companies give valued international team members the experience they deserve, without the usual headaches and expense.

Oyster enables hiring anywhere in the world—with reliable, compliant payroll, and great local benefits and perks.

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