Tips for Virtual Onboarding Every Hiring Manager Should Consider
A typical first day at a new job used to entail filling out paperwork, attending an orientation meeting, going on a company tour, and meeting a new boss and co-workers. Currently, as more people work remotely, a new employee’s first day may happen in their own living room. The onboarding process of introducing a new employee to their role, their team, organizational processes, and the company culture can all happen remotely, but translating in-person onboarding into a virtual program is easier said than done.
A good onboarding experience is key for new employees. It helps them transition into their roles more quickly, and ultimately it can positively impact retention. Here are five tips for human resource professionals to make virtual onboarding an outstanding start to a new employee’s career.
- Start early.
Don’t wait until your new employee’s first day to begin the onboarding process. As soon as you complete the hiring process, send a welcome package to your new team member. Give them a copy of your organization’s handbook so they can start learning about you company. Send them any documents they need to sign and return. Be sure to provide them with a schedule for their onboarding, including any trainings they need to attend, so they know what to expect.
BONUS TIP: Send them a welcome sign along with some branded company items, like a pen, notepad, and hat. After all, who doesn’t like opening the mail and finding free goodies? (Don’t be surprised if they take a selfie with their sign and post it on social media.)
Result: Your new employee will know what to expect during their first days on the job and already feel like part of the team.
- Train on tech.
To ensure the first day goes smoothly, provide access to software and technology in advance. Offering an introductory IT session that covers the video-conferencing platform, team collaboration software, communication channels, and other widely used technology will help employees feel more at ease from the start.
BONUS TIP: Some companies even send new hires equipment such as a phone or laptop before their first day of work, set up with everything the employee will need.
Result: Ensuring that new employees can access the necessary software and technology in advance mitigates potential technical issues a makes for a smoother virtual onboarding process. Plus, employees will be able to work efficiently from day one.
- Make it dynamic.
No one wants to spend eight hours watching a PowerPoint presentation or reading a packet. Take advantage of technology and make virtual onboarding a dynamic event. Vary the experience with breakout sessions, videos, quizzes, and games. Ensure that it’s not just the HR manager speaking the entire time; invite other key staff to participate in the onboarding process.
BONUS TIP: Spring for a virtual lunch. Give each new employee money they can use to purchase lunch on their own. Then gather everyone on a video conference to enjoy their meal together.
Result: Engaging onboarding gives new hires a positive impression of their new company.
- Foster connections.
Although employees may be working from home, you don’t want them to feel like they’re alone. Schedule a mix of informal introductory chats—both one-on-one and group meetings—between your new employee and other team members so that there’s a chance to meet outside of agenda-driven meetings. Video conferences are best to help employees connect names to faces.
BONUS TIP: While your new employee will likely need to have longer meetings with various departments to discuss procedures and workflow, keep these introductory meetings short. Fifteen minutes is often enough time for individual team members to have a chat; group meetings may need 30 minutes.
Result: Current employees and new hires will get to know one another quickly, which helps boost overall productivity.
- Pair up.
Designate a mentor for your new employee. This experienced team member will be there to help the newbie if they have any questions, whether they need to know who to contact with a technical issue or what’s appropriate to wear to a client meeting.
BONUS TIP: Schedule regular meetings between mentor and mentee. That way, even if the new employee is a bit shy about reaching out, the pair will have designated times to talk.
Result: New employees will get their questions answered quickly, enabling them to work more effectively and feel more confident. It’s also a great opportunity for mentors to gain management experience.
Human resource professionals manage a company’s most important asset: its people. By creating a dynamic virtual onboarding process, you’re setting new employees up for a positive start in their new job. Your virtual onboarding should be the first step in a plan to connect employees with your company’s culture, help them foster positive relationships throughout the organization, and succeed in their roles.
If you’re ready to take the next step up in your human resources career, consider a master’s degree. Many mid- and senior-level human resource specialists have earned a master’s in human resources management or a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a specialization in HR management. A great option to pursue your education while working full time is to earn a degree online.
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