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News article27 November 2020European Labour Authority, Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion3 min read

Top tips for onboarding new international employees

COVID-19 has allowed many companies to rise above the constraints of their physical offices and turn to hiring remote workers, including employees from abroad. But what is the best way to integrate new international hires into your organisation?

Top tips for onboarding new international employees

Hiring workers from abroad makes your company more competitive. It brings new skills, qualifications and perspectives into your business. However, if you do not have a good onboarding strategy, your new hires are more likely to leave within the first year. That is why it is important to know how to make your international hires feel welcome and part of your business, especially during COVID-19 times.


The onboarding process begins before the new employee’s first day at work, and it is vital that everything is in place and ready for them. Your newcomer will get a bad impression if they start bumping into problems from day one.

Check if your international hire needs a special work permit or work visa that you have to help them with. Prepare employment contracts and legal documents in advance, as it might be necessary to print, scan and post them. 

Get all the technology for your new employee tested. Deliver any hardware they need in advance and set up accounts and logins for them.

Establish a personal connection

Usually, new employees are given a tour of the office and introduced to the different teams. This is a very important part of the onboarding process, and it should not be overlooked just because people are working from home now.

Set up a virtual meeting to introduce your new employee and appoint representatives from the different departments to briefly explain what they do. If you have a bigger company, these meetings can be spread over a longer period of time, so as not to overwhelm the newcomer from day one. Consider setting up a separate video chat just for the new hire’s team so they can meet their teammates.

Set up a ‘buddy system’

For more direct support, you can assign new employees a virtual ‘buddy’. This can be a more experienced employee of similar rank, or a friendly face who can advise on how to have a successful start at the company. When it comes to some work-related questions, it can be a lot less stressful for a newcomer to talk to a fellow colleague than to ask HR.

Be considerate of the new circumstances

You might have to roll out information and training to new hires at a slower pace than usual. It can be overwhelming to join a completely remote work environment. By spreading learning over a longer period of time, you will allow the new hire to process the information and ask questions.

Schedule regular catch-ups

This is critical to keep new remote employees engaged, motivated and connected. Make sure your new hire has catch-ups with their manager and/or team at least once or twice a week. The key is to develop a regular schedule for interaction and communication, so no one feels isolated or alone. This is also a great way to keep track of the new employee’s progress.

Acquaint new hires to the company culture

When new employees are working from home, integration into the company culture can be challenging. However, it is one of the most important aspects of joining a business. Social interactions are the fastest and most effective way of immersing into company culture. Do not be afraid of giving your new recruits plenty of informal chat sessions with team members. This way, they will truly get to know their new team and company.

Do not forget that international hires may have two cultures to adapt to – both your country’s and your company’s.

Still unsure about hiring remote workers? Check out our article Six advantages of having staff who work from home.


Related links:

Six advantages of having staff who work from home


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Publication date
27 November 2020 (Last updated on: 27 November 2020)
European Labour Authority | Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion
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