A new employee attends a video onboarding meeting on his laptop while working at home

Onboarding International Employees: Best Practices for Global Employers

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Hiring international employees opens doors to new markets, talent, and growth opportunities. However, the onboarding process for international employees in multiple countries presents several challenges. Global employers must have a solid onboarding process that standardizes hiring and onboarding across borders.

A solid global onboarding strategy helps companies ensure a smooth transition for new distributed team members, which leads to better employee engagement, collaboration, and productivity. It also helps improve talent retention.

The following guide offers best practices for onboarding international employees so that they’re ready to hit the ground running and help your company on its road to long-term success.

Tips for onboarding international employees

A global onboarding process should seamlessly introduce international employees to the company and set them up for professional success.

Onboarding should facilitate international employees with learning their new job role, meeting their co-workers, and integrating into the company. The onboarding process should also consider factors like culture, language, and time zones.

Consider the following tips when onboarding new international employees:

1. Start with preboarding

A successful onboarding process starts by planning ahead—or preboarding. Preboarding ensures your new global hires have everything they need to be successful on day one of their onboarding.

During preboarding, you could do the following to help make onboarding easier:

  • Send your new employees their allotted work equipment, like laptops and monitors
  • Send your new employees all login information to their hardware and software
  • Have your new employees fill out critical payroll and employment documentation
  • Send instructions on accessing and using email, the company's communication software, and other web-based tools they may need on day one
  • Provide a welcome package and a day-one agenda with links to all scheduled meetings

2. Be mindful of time zones

Global hiring means navigating multiple time zones. When scheduling virtual meetings, consider your global employees’ time zones. Invest in scheduling software and asynchronous tools to ensure seamless communication—regardless of your team’s locations, time zones, and work hours.

3. Understand cultural differences

Hiring international employees means encountering various cultures and social norms. It’s important to respect these differences and help bridge cultural divides when onboarding international employees.

Hold icebreaker sessions with teams to learn more about their customs and interests, and encourage employees to ask questions to better understand and connect with each other.  

It’s also important to research employment and payroll laws in each employee’s country to ensure your global payroll processes and global employee benefits reflect local requirements regarding pay, employment taxes, entitlements, holidays, and other employment regulations.

4. Allow them to move at their own pace

A new international employee has much to learn and adjust to when working with a distributed team. Allow them to navigate their onboarding at their own pace, and don’t forget to offer ongoing support and flexibility as needed.

Consider giving your new hires small and manageable task lists for their first day and week, with plenty of time to schedule meetings with others, fill out paperwork, read company materials, review training resources, take breaks, and ask questions.

4. Be inclusive

Not all new hires learn the same way, have the same knowledge of your company’s industry, or even speak the same native languages. Celebrate inclusivity by providing your new international employees with various ways to learn and access information.

Consider using clear, universal language to describe company processes, having a translator on calls to elaborate on difficult topics, offering language training, and providing digital resources, guides, and videos to assist with onboarding.

5. Celebrate diversity

You hired this international employee for a reason, so ensure your new talent feels valued and understands their critical role in the business. 

Educate them on why you’re scaling up and hiring abroad, discuss their country’s value and impact on the company, and celebrate diversity in the workplace by sharing their unique skills, experience, and interests with the rest of the team.

6. Introduce them to your team

One of the most important elements of onboarding international employees is introducing them to your team. Distributed work can feel isolating—especially when teams work in different time zones—so provide opportunities for international employees to connect in person and online.

For example, you could introduce international employees to local colleagues who live near them or share similar interests so they can connect and make plans to meet in person. Or facilitate team camaraderie activities that help employees get acquainted and feel connected.

7. Schedule regular meetings for check-ins

Schedule check-ins with new international employees to provide support and improve engagement. Establish open lines of communication during the onboarding process, including real-time messages and scheduled calls with leadership, peers, and new team members.

Schedule regular meetings with new international employees to ensure everyone is in alignment with onboarding tasks and role expectations. Use these meetings to get feedback from the new employee on the onboarding process, answer questions, and provide support.

Read more: How to Onboard Remote Hires with Success

How to streamline employee onboarding around the globe

When onboarding international employees, HR must not only understand cultural norms and time zones, but they must also understand onboarding requirements in each country.

HR teams must customize onboarding to each location, follow local data privacy laws, and comply with country-specific employment legislation each time they extend a new employment agreement—among other global onboarding challenges.

Fortunately, using the right solution can help you efficiently and compliantly onboard your international talent and increase speed to market—regardless of where you hire.

Our Global Work Platform is a one-stop solution for onboarding, paying, and managing international employees. Our platform drives efficiencies across HR workflows by customizing the onboarding process based on country of employment and providing your employees’ onboarding journey, pay, time, vacation, and other contractual agreements in one place.

Plus, HR teams can increase accuracy, save time, and boost efficiency with our platform’s seamless integrations with leading ATS, HRIS, and HCM systems.

When you harness our Global Work Platform, you have the power to quickly and compliantly onboard international employees using a single source of truth while also accessing unparalleled compliance support to reduce risk as you build teams across borders.

Read also: How to Hire Faster Using Our Enhanced Onboarding Process

Simplify international onboarding with Velocity Global

Let Velocity Global help you streamline the crucial steps of your working relationship with new international employees so you can provide an exceptional onboarding experience, retain top talent, and ensure hiring compliance in more than 185 countries.

If you’re ready to simplify international onboarding, reach out to Velocity Global to learn how our Global Work Platform and industry-leading EOR solutions can help

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