An employee needs to feel welcomed, understand the processes clearly, and integrate with the team well to start on a positive note. But with the pandemic hitting us hard and organizations moving towards remote working, one pressing issue is how to handle the onboarding process of new employees during this trying time? The best possible way is a virtual onboarding process. Here are some tips that will help you to design one effectively. 

7 Tips for Virtual Onboarding While Working Remotely

Spread the onboarding program over a few days

Instead of finishing the entire onboarding process in one day, try spreading it out over a few days. New employees may find it difficult to absorb everything in a single day while onboarding virtually. Understand that it’s a difficult time for all and HR leaders need to do a lot of hand-holding during this period of transition.

 

For example, LinkedIn has spread its virtual onboarding program over a week which was originally a day’s program. This five-day onboarding program ensures that the new hire has multiple touchpoints and check-ins during their first week at work.

Communicate, as often as you can

When a new hire is physically present in the office, their managers, HR partners, colleagues usually stop by at their desks just to make them feel comfortable. But with a remote work arrangement, new hires must get to hear from their managers and HR partners from time to time.

 

Make it a point during a virtual onboarding process that the employees get to connect one-on-one with their managers and HR partners. Set out a few minutes every day for a catch-up call. This can be done formally over video conferencing as well as casual catch-ups on instant messages, chats, or emails. Don’t bombard with excessive information in a single interaction. The key is to have multiple virtual interactions. 

Introduce company culture

Introducing new hires to your company culture and values is important and goes a long way in employee engagement and retention. Focus on creating a virtual onboarding program where you can get to introduce elements of your company culture. For example, you may consider planning a virtual team lunch, organizing fun hours, interactive sessions with leadership, and so on. 

Keep the human touch

When everything is going virtual and remote, try to keep the human touch to make the new hires comfortable. Introduce a mentor program or a buddy system in the organization. A buddy or a mentor is a person apart from the new hire’s manager who can keep in touch with the new hire. The new employee can open up to the buddy and seek suggestions, even outside work.

Have tools and technologies handy

While remote working, employees are heavily dependent on tools and technologies. How you want the new hire to have the onboarding experience depends a lot on your readiness especially in terms of tools and technologies. Whether you want to provide a phone, laptop, ergonomic furniture, make sure everything is ready when the employees log in on the first day at work.

 

These may sound cliché but the non-availability of tools and technology do send out a negative message like “we were too busy to think about you” which is certainly not desirable for your brand reputation. 

Send a welcome goodie bag

In a physical onboarding process, a new hire is treated to goodies like coffee mugs, t-shirts, stationeries, etc, on their first day at work. How about shipping the goodie bag a few days before the employee’s first day at work? It is a great way to connect with the new hire.

 

Along with the branded goodies consider sending a welcome note (preferably signed by the CEO), employee handbook, the team welcome card signed by all team members, company calendar with important company events marked, etc.

Collect feedback

Don’t shy away from collecting feedback once the employee completes the virtual onboarding process. Gathering feedback would help you to tweak and adjust your program for subsequent onboarding programs. 

 

Onboarding is a critical process in any organization; however, it is not strongly prioritized in many companies. Gallup says that “one in 10 employees strongly agree that their company does well in the onboarding process”. With the pandemic, this is going to get more difficult. However, the above-discussed points will help you to shape up a strong virtual onboarding program for your remote hires. 

 

Read more about how to assess new hires here.