An effective onboarding will help your new hires feel more valued, increase their productivity and performance, and better understand their role at the company. While some companies have put a hold on recruiting and onboarding, numerous other companies are still in need of new employees; with the question of how to onboard a new employee in a virtual setting. The bigger question is how do you make their onboarding experience as beneficial as the traditional onboarding process?
Takeaways for Virtual Onboarding Success
As an employee who onboarded during COVID-19, here are some of my key takeaways for a successful onboarding and the start of noteworthy employee experiences.
Get technology into their hands before day one
Normally, an employee will get their technology equipment the first day with everything ready for use. With offices still being closed for opening up, the easiest method now is to directly ship the laptop straight to the employees’ homes. IT will typically be the ones to set up the company software and programs, but for virtual work, your company can create a series of videos presenting the step-by-steps on how to get your laptop set-up. Another solution is to have the entire process as a one-on-one phone call with someone from the IT team guiding the new hire through the process of downloading the needed software and programs with the right credentials.
Pre-onboarding is just as important
First day jitters are just as real when starting virtually! Being a virtual employee can be extremely difficult first starting out while learning all the new ways of the company and how everything works. As well as making sure technology is ready to go, make sure your new hires have everything they need before their official start date. This includes all the paperwork sent over as well as the tools they need to succeed in their role.
Make new hires feel at home in your company, while at home
Also consider sending a welcome basket with branded swag or goodies, and reaching out with a welcoming message from their manager. Have a team member serve as their onboarding buddy to share advice, answer the little questions that randomly pop-up, and navigate through the unique experience together. Also, encourage their team members to reach out and congratulate them on the new role and share the excitement of them joining the team. If there is an office meeting approaching, plan to introduce them as well. This is also beneficial for the current employees as they can see who is new in the virtual office.
Make the onboarding sessions interactive
Without face-to-face time, it is more challenging to make new hires feel part of the team. Beginning a new job virtually can be nerve-racking for people as there is a certain pressure of engaging with others. The normal onboarding process would involve office tours and meeting coworkers, but meeting people online (sometimes not even having video on) is difficult when you have not actually met anyone yet. That being said, using video is critical to the virtual onboarding process.
If virtual onboarding is new to your company, start by creating a structured calendar and scheduling full days of engaging topics for the new hires so they don’t feel neglected or lost on what to do. Have a few dispersed meetings with 2-3 people at the same time to get to know their co-workers in their first week; this is less stressful than virtual 1:1s. If internal employees will be joining the meetings, stress the importance of the sessions as these are not meetings to be late to.
A Continuous Improvement
An employee’s experience has never been more important than now. As an employer, you should strive to make virtual onboarding seamless, dynamic and informative for your new employees. When new hires start they feel a bit alone and nervous – sometimes worrying if they made the right decision. You don’t want tech glitches, disorganized processes, or a disconnection to people or company culture to amplify that worry.
Since virtual onboarding is newer for all, it is a continuous learning process for everyone involved. Set-up continuous feedback to evolve the current processes your company is using and make onboarding virtually better and more efficient over time. Design the onboarding experience to represent your company’s culture; onboarding should be a personal experience. The more comfortable your new employees feel at your company, the more likely they are to stay with you.