Michael Doyle, VP of Customer Service, Engagez
Employee onboarding can be a source of stress for even the most organized and seasoned Human Resources professional. As we have been exploring the various shifts in the workforce in previous posts, we want to continue to explore that topic by discussing virtual onboarding in today’s post. Similar to a Benefits Fair, virtual onboarding will make the process of bringing on new hires more simple and more effective! Whether your company has moved to a virtual or hybrid workspace – or you need to reach across the country or globe – having a unified virtual space and processes in place will help your new employees feel both welcome and ready to work. The virtual onboarding process leverages technology to aid in the streamlining of documentation, create engagement opportunities, and equip employees with the knowledge and support they need to be successful.
Advantages of Virtual Onboarding
There are a number of advantages to conducting your onboarding process virtually!
When bringing on new employees from around the world, the consistency that a virtual program brings will help everyone adapt to differences in time, language, and culture. Virtual onboarding enables you to consistently deliver the same content, material, and information. Many platforms offer multiple language support, so even if your company uses just one language professionally, being able to discuss personal areas of interest – such as insurance, benefits, office protocols, etc. – will make all your new hires feel more comfortable.
Virtual onboarding allows your new employees to learn at their own pace. Pre-recorded, hybrid, and live webinars – along with Q&A sessions – can all be supported with documentation that employees can review as they choose.
Make sure your new employees are ready for the onboarding process by welcoming them, ensuring the necessary technology is in place and providing them with a starter pack.
Before the onboarding begins, send a welcome email to the new hire’s personal email account with instructions on how to log on to their new equipment, secured network or VPN, and company email. The welcome email should also include a detailed explanation of the first day of onboarding: who will they meet? What do they need to have done prior to day one? What time are they expected to log on everyday? This will go a long way towards helping the new employee feel more confident about the onboarding process.
On the technical side, make sure your new hires have: a working laptop and/or monitor, plus audio and cable equipment; all relevant onboarding materials – both physical and/or digital; software accounts, such as email, scheduling, project management, etc, set up; and access to any additional required workspace equipment.
Once they are set up with the required technology, provide a starter pack that may include: information on how to test the equipment and software; meeting links and schedules; a welcome video; and a checklist of the process.
Defining expectations will go a long way to reducing a new employees’ feelings of uncertainty, and checklists are a great way to set expectations. These can include a list of tasks to complete during the first week, month, etc. Expectations can include explaining what meetings they need to attend and when, the hours they are expected to work, how to participate in remote meetings, etc. A simple Google Sheet can be used to make sure you provide new hires with a trackable workspace for their checklist.
It’s important to create a dynamic where new hires feel comfortable asking questions. Make sure your new employees know where to get help or clarification during the process. This assistance might come from your IT help desk, someone from the HR department, or an assigned “work buddy”. The work buddy can act as a mentor, and could be someone who recently went through the onboarding process, or a future co-worker.
Once you’ve prepared your virtual onboarding process, do a test run to ensure that everything is working smoothly.
Promoting the company – its history, values, and culture – is another important facet of the onboarding process.
Panel sessions involving management and colleagues talking about the organization’s values and their personal experiences can be recorded for new hires to view. Company successes and accomplishments – along with future goals – can also be good topics for discussions.
An important part of the onboarding process is making sure your new employees quickly feel that they are part of your organization. Keeping them “in the loop” will help to ease the anxiety of a new job.
Even though they’ll probably not be ready to fully participate, have their manager invite them to join any meetings they’ll be a part of in the future. This will let the team meet each other and give the new employee a sense of their new role. If your company has virtual social events, virtual coffee breaks, lunches, etc., be sure they’re invited to those, too! Networking lounges for new hires can also be created to promote interactions between the “newbies” and also provide a space for management and colleagues to drop in and interact with the group.
Regularly checking in with the new employees can be done with surveys or questionnaires. This can give them the chance to express any concerns or problems they’ve had with the onboarding process.
These types of interactions should be spread out over a few days, so as not to overwhelm anyone with too much information or video conferencing. Some people are not used to working remotely and will need some time to become accustomed to the format.
A Virtual Onboarding Fair
Along with a virtual onboarding platform in place, virtual onboarding fairs are more complex and can be organized as one-time events if you are hiring a group of new people at the same time. They can also be used when making major changes in your organization where you need to bring everyone up to speed on new information and/or policies. Much like any virtual conference, virtual booths and webinars are used to convey the new information by providing one-on-one opportunities, documents, brochures, images, webinar presentations, and videos. Live interactions – such as a virtual booth assistant or a Q&A session – can be scheduled for specific time periods. Online chat tools are available on most event platforms that will allow new employees to directly connect with current employees and management.
Using the virtual world for your onboarding process will greatly streamline the work of the HR department. It will also help you to improve the process, as the platforms are able to provide reports on the number of visitors, average duration of visits, number of on-demand webinar views, and more. This helps you better understand how your audience is viewing your material and what holds their interest.
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