• Blogs

How organisations are attracting, onboarding, and retaining the best talent – remotely

Discover some of the common challenges HR leaders face with remote recruitment, and see how some of the biggest organisations have adapted to overcome them.

Most organisations had to quickly adopt remote recruitment strategies during the pandemic – sometimes leading to disjointed and makeshift practices. Now, remote recruitment and hybrid working are part of the new normal, organisations need to reflect on their processes and adjust their strategies to make sure they’re in the best position to gain and retain talent. 

According to the CIPD, 43% of organisations are taking an ad hoc approach to recruitment, so now’s the time to get ahead of the competition and ensure your remote attraction, onboarding and retention strategies are effective – to help win the best talent, wherever they are. 

In this blog, we’ll look at some of the most common challenges HR leaders are facing with remote recruitment, and how leading organisations have adapted their processes to overcome them. 

The challenges of remote recruitment: from time zones to dodgy IT 

Remote recruitment offers a unique set of challenges that start before you post your job advert and can last more than a year into employee contracts. Here are some of the most common challenges HR leaders are facing: 

Organisations are spoilt for choice

Endless geographical limits to sourcing new talent mean organisations often get more applications and face more competition. With a large virtual stack of cover letters and CVs to read, HR leaders need to put aside a lot of time to manually sort through them. And when it comes to conducting interviews, HR leaders face new logistical problems like different time zones. 

On top of staying late for interviews, it can be hard to build rapport online. Virtual interviews can feel awkward and unnatural, making it difficult to offer someone a job having met them only virtually. It can take a leap of faith, which can be too much for some organisations. 

Poorly organised onboarding is common 

Onboarding a new hire remotely isn’t easy. They have new working relationships to form, new systems and processes to learn, and people to impress – all while working from home. 

And it doesn’t help when they’ve no idea what they can expect, or have little chance to prepare. With pre-boarding, new hires have the opportunity to learn their company’s systems and meet their teams in advance, accelerating their time to productivity. But this process involves a lot of resources to prepare and relies on the availability of your new hire and current teams.

Unlike working in-person, new hires can’t ask questions or make connections without having to make a call, which can feel more awkward and scary than meeting at the water cooler for a quick chat. And without the right, functional tech, new hires can’t make those calls at all. 

Remote onboarding presents a different set of technical challenges to in-person experiences – from undelivered log-in details to not having the right technology. And it can lead to isolated employees who are at a loose end and waiting on tech support.

If unhappy, employees are more likely to leave 

It’s harder to keep employees engaged, happy and productive when they’re working remotely. According to Deloitte, 39% of people find it harder to stay motivated when working from home, and 33% of people said they felt more isolated or lonely. 

And with 26% of jobseekers not prepared to stick with a job they think isn’t a good fit, even when they haven’t got another offer, organisations need to make sure they’re supporting their employees as much as they can. 

HRGrapevine reports that 90% of businesses believe that employees make their decision to stay within their first year of employment – potentially making it the most important period for organisations to focus on retaining their staff. 

With so much to keep track of, and so many possibilities for processes to go wrong, what does it take to be successful with remote recruitment? 

Learn from the best 

Some of the biggest organisations have faced similar challenges, and they’re working to overcome them. Here’s how three leading organisations have adapted their onboarding processes over the past couple of years. 


IBM, an American multinational technology corporation, moved all its recruitment and onboarding online in March 2020. When in-person, IBM’s induction groups were as large as 50 people, but to help make virtual experiences more engaging and interactive, the company split its sessions into smaller groups. 

Now, IBM uses creativity to help new hires make connections. Digital virtual collaboration tools help IBM run fast-paced scavenger hunts and ‘draw last night’s dinner’ warm-ups. These induction sessions are designed to be quick and fun, to help new hires stay focused and engaged, and to help them avoid camera fatigue.

As a result of the changes, IBM has seen satisfaction scores for virtual inductions much higher than they were for in-person events – both from the attendees and from IBM’s team of trainers, who now spend less time travelling to different locations. 


Salesforce is an American cloud-based software company that already had a remote version of its onboarding programme in place prior to COVID-19. And in early March 2021, the company transitioned to a fully remote onboarding experience globally. 

This involved completely revamping its core onboarding programmes to help new employees build connections with different people across the organisation. The new programme introduced networking opportunities for employees to meet colleagues throughout their region, rather than just those in their office – broadening the number of potential connections. 

Also, Salesforce invites its tenured employees to present about the organisation’s culture and showcase different experiences at the company. And the organisation even offers volunteering for all its employees in their first week, to help build new connections within teams. 

In one year, Salesforce onboarded 10,000 people remotely, and feedback scores improved by 4% compared to its in-person programme. 


Vistaprint, a design and marketing partner to millions, is a global and remote-first company. Like Salesforce, it also wanted to help its new hires build personal connections, and get a sense of the organisation’s culture and community.

To achieve this, Vistaprint holds a live, virtual orientation day to introduce new team members to the organisation and tell them everything they need to know about HR and IT. It also runs a virtual new hire social on day one that gives its new team members the opportunity to get to know each other using group games, and one-on-one breakout rooms. 

Vistaprint has a remote-first handbook that details different virtual engagement ideas teams can use for ongoing virtual gatherings, to ensure onboarding continues beyond the starting week. The organisation is also in the process of implementing a learning management system, which will allow it to expand and streamline formal onboarding to a 100-day programme. 

What results can you expect?

According to Gartner, organisations with successful recruitment strategies see more than a 20% increase in employees’ discretionary effort and up to 15% in employee performance. Furthermore, committed employees work 57% harder and are nine times less likely to leave.

You can’t guarantee everything will always go smoothly with remote recruitment, but there are steps you can take to minimise disruption and ensure you’re putting your best foot forward as an employer.

Latest Posts


Visualising Both Career Growth and Development Opportunities to Unleash Your Employee’s Full Potential

If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that continuous learning and performance management are no longer.
Jan 22, 2024 | 5 min read

Seven of the Biggest HR Trends in 2024

As we step into the new year, the landscape of Human Resources is set for significant transformations. The evolving.
Jan 8, 2024 | 3 min read

AI Supercharges HR: The Future of Workforce Management

In the world of HR, change is the only constant. The way we manage our workforce is evolving at.
Oct 12, 2023 | 4 min read

Improve your remote recruitment

If you’d like to learn more about how you can improve your ability to attract, onboard and retain the best talent, we recommend having a chat with our team about SAP SuccessFactors – get in touch to arrange a demo.

Get in touch