6 Tips for Onboarding Your Flexible Workforce

July 1, 2021
By Jayne Garrison, M.S.

A flexible workforce is a key to success for many businesses in today’s economy. Flexible employees give you the agility to quickly expand and contract as your business needs evolve. For your employees, flexibility can provide better work/life balance and increase their engagement with work.


But a successful flexible workforce requires some careful thought, training, and – above all – a good onboarding program. With some employees in the office, others remote, and still others working staggered hours, onboarding your flexible workforce poses unique challenges. Here are some tips to help you onboard flexible employees seamlessly, with long-term success.


1. Do Some Advance Planning


Create a solid onboarding plan for new flexible employees. Spending a little time on how you will welcome and integrate your employees will pay off in productivity and staff retention. Research shows that 22% of turnover occurs in the first 45 days on the job. Employees who feel adrift at the beginning are less likely to stay with your company. But 69% of employees are likely to remain with a company for three years if they experienced great onboarding. Early engagement and clarity about tasks also increases employees’ productivity and sense of purpose in their jobs.


2. Send a Warm Welcome


First-day difficulties set the tone for your new flexible employee. So get ahead of that common problem. Send a welcoming email to your new hires several days before they start work. Let them know what to expect in the first week. Attach a simple schedule for Day 1 — including any orientation, meetings, and onboarding tasks — to ease the awkwardness that newcomers can feel on that first day.


At the same time, send an email to the entire team introducing the new flexible employee. Explain what the employee will do, how the person will fit into the team, and the talents your new hire will bring to the company.


3. Get the Right Technology Ahead of Time


Make sure new employees have the right hardware and software they need right away. They will likely feel frustrated and assume that you were not prepared if they don’t have essentials, such as a computer, phone, office supplies, and building or security access. If your new hire works remotely, send the laptop, phone, or other office equipment to their home before the first day on the job. Include important documents they may need, including an onboarding FAQ. For flexible employees in the office, have all the needed gear there ahead of time.


Have a phone number set up for your new employee or, if the person is working remotely and using their own phone, add the number to your company directory in advance.


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4. Start with a Good Day 1


Too often managers are so busy that they give a new hire just a half-hour welcome meeting in the morning — and call that onboarding. Make sure your new employee’s first day is a full one. Arrange a lunch with co-workers. For remote workers, set up a brown bag lunch online so team members can get to know each other. Have the manager check in with your new hire at the end of the day to answer questions that have come up and address any concerns.


5. Pair Your New Hire with a Co-Worker “Coach”


Assign a colleague to mentor your new employee for the first few weeks. This is a time when many new employees feel isolated or overwhelmed. The co-worker can answer questions that arise especially those that the new employee may think are too minor to ask the boss. Also, make sure the new employee has enough to do that first week or two. Nothing is worse than having empty time on your hands when new on the job.


6. Remember Onboarding Is a 90-Day Process


New employees need about 90 days to feel confident and comfortable in the job. Make sure your managers set up regular one-on-one meetings for at least these first 90 days. This type of follow-up is essential when onboarding flexible employees. It helps them feel welcome — and ensures you get the best work from them. Use these three months to develop and guide your new employee. And remember, it’s not a probationary period. Rather, it’s a time for valuable training and sharing in your company’s culture.


Contact Nelson today for your hiring or employment needs. We’re here to help.



Jayne Garrison, M.S., is a writer and editor from the San Francisco Bay Area. She specializes in website content, ghostwriting and thought leadership pieces.

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