Tips for Virtual Onboarding
We certainly don’t have to tell you how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the where-employees-work landscape, it’s also transformed the entire recruiting and hiring process. Most job interviews are conducted via video. Job fairs and college career fairs have gone almost entirely online.
Which brings us to remote onboarding
Whether you’re now hiring people to work remotely only or you’ve reopened company locations and hiring for positions there, virtual onboarding can save your company time and money.
It’s also possible – and rather easy – to create a virtual onboarding experience for new hires that’s warm, personal and engaging, providing your new workers with a good sense of your company’s culture while also helping them to feel a part of your organization quickly, whether they work onsite or remotely.
Virtual onboarding done right in three steps
1. Help new hires be successful from the get-go – It’s hard to recover from a bad start in a new job. While many employees may grow and be successful in their new position even with a rocky start, chances are great new hires with a poor onboarding experience will never look at you as you’d like them to. What’s more, bad impressions of a company tend to remain…but the new employees don’t: poor onboarding is a big cause of employee turnover.
- Get their paperwork ready to send as soon as they accept the offer and/or sign a contract. Send them documents that can be signed virtually, via DocuSign for example.
- Make sure you get any equipment they need to do their job (if working remotely) to their home office days before their start date. And make sure your tech help desk is ready to help if they need assistance setting up equipment
- Send them company swag, if you have it.
- Don’t assume that no news is good news: check in with your new hires periodically.
- As their first day nears, send the employees a schedule of their “virtual” first day. When are they expected to “arrive for work” by logging on? (Do you expect them to be available after traditional work hours?) What video meetings should they put on their calendar? What tasks do you expect them to complete that first day and first week, etc.?
A really nice touch is to ask the employees’ managers and colleagues to send a personal email or even hand-written note of welcome.
2. Get on the road to a great relationship – As early as a new hire’s first day, it’s a good idea to hold a team ice breaker of some kind, as virtual meet and greets can be awkward without having some familiarity often established with that first warm, in-person handshake and face-to-face interaction.
Virtual first team meeting Ice breaker ideas:
- Have a few – if not all – team members (and that includes the new-hire) say three things about themselves, one of which is not true and ask others to guess which one is the falsehood.
- Ask everyone the answer to a fun question such as: what skill or talent would they love to have, who is their favorite superhero and super-villain, if they could meet one fictional or real person, who would it be.
3. Provide exceptionally clear on-the-job guidelines – Setting clear expectations from the start helps put new employees at ease, especially when they work remotely. Let them know what success in their job looks like to you: what goals should they meet, what online meetings they’re expected to attend each week and month, what tools will they use to collaborate with colleagues, what hours you expect them to work (and your flexibility regarding the same).
This can seem like a lot to hand to new hires, but you can alleviate some stress by providing them with a checklist of expectations for their first few days and weeks.
In addition, make sure leadership/management checks in with new hires as it shouldn’t be up to them – at least not in the beginning – to “show their assertiveness” by initiating such interactions.
IAAYC: It’s All About Your Culture
What’s company culture? It’s many things, actually. It’s your company’s mission and finding ways for employees to live it each and every day. It’s Zoom happy hours after work. It’s contests employees can play with each other to win small – or large – prizes. It’s themed costume days where everyone dresses up as their favorite movie character and shows it off via a Zoom meeting. It’s honesty and communication (or the lack of it).
Consider having a special (virtual) meeting with new employees and their team members so that everyone can “meet” one another and start building relationships. (Lunch times work well for this.) Coworkers can talk about what they do, how long they’ve worked at the company, how they will work with the new-hire, and so on.
Starting a new job in an office far from colleagues – and where those colleagues are just figures on a video screen – can be daunting. Remember the last time you started a new job: you had so many people to meet, so many roles and tasks to execute, so many “unwritten rules” to learn. These steps to becoming comfortable working at a company and working in a role are even harder when done remotely.
Which is why it’s a good idea to assign work buddies to your new hires. These people can help them get to know the company’s inner workings – how things are really done – who is whom, what nifty tools and equipment is available, and so on. It’s best to ask the buddies to reach out a couple of days before their new hire’s official start date so that they can connect and help the new employee begin on a strong note.
Hiring remotely doesn’t have to mean an impersonal onboarding experience
All communication with your new hires – whether it’s an email, a video chat, a phone call, etc. – should show your enthusiasm for your new colleagues’ arrival. Remember, this is one of their first impressions of you and your company and you want it to be as positive as possible.