Virtual onboarding has been around for a long time now, but its importance has ballooned with the COVID-19 pandemic. This is because while full-on remote positions existed pre-COVID, there are now many more opportunities to work from home than ever before.
If your company is offering remote positions for the first time, getting the hang of the virtual onboarding process can be tricky- but it is vital. It is also important if you offer flexible or part-time remote positions or simply want to onboard employees virtually so they can start strongly on their first day in the office.
Whatever the situation may be, the trick lies in creating a virtual experience that ticks all the boxes of a physical onboarding process. After all, onboarding affects employee work performance straight off the bat! Fortunately, we’ve got some HR onboarding insights to get you started.
Your Fool-Proof HR Virtual Onboarding Checklist for 2021 & Beyond
Here are the steps every HR practitioner needs to follow to ensure that they have effective virtual onboarding processes.
Facilitate Vital Connections (ASAP!)
In a real, brick-and-mortar office, the first day an employee arrives, their coworkers will show them around the office. This is more than just good manners; it's a necessary part of welcoming them into the team. To introduce employees virtually:
Set up virtual meetings with relevant co-workers, managers, and team leaders ahead of time. Where possible, try to keep these meetings one-on-one. It can be daunting to speak to a whole screen full of people for the first time. Aside from knowing where to look, it's also just confusing when lots of people speak over one another.
Assign your new recruit a go-to peer. Also known as a 'welcome buddy', this person should be willing and able to help your new employee navigate the digital workspace. While HR can weigh in on employment-related matters, there will be questions that only someone in a similar position can answer succinctly. Line up the buddy ahead of time, and be sure that their schedule avails them to help the new hire on the day.
Pave The Road Ahead (Clearly!)
Looking ahead, create opportunities for remote employees to get to know more co-workers, and learn more about your company.
Don't stop the meeting and greeting after day one. Ideally, you want to set up a series of ongoing meetings spanning the first weeks of a new hire's employment. Brief sessions with people from different company divisions can help them get a better sense of how the departments work. It will also provide them with more insight into how the operation fits together as a whole.
Keep checking in and share information pieces. Dropping a 'welcome packet' that has hundreds of pages (in PDF format no less!) on a recruit can leave them overwhelmed. Instead, spread out the why, what, and how-to processes over a few weeks. This way, you can check in with them regularly and share more information as you go along.
Ask for info on their WFH setup. Lots of people are working from home under challenging circumstances through no fault of their own. Your new hire may be taking care of a sick relative. Or they could have children around at certain hours of the day. Be sure to check in, find out more, and remain empathetic and accommodating to these conditions where and how you can.
Integrate Remote Recruits Into Your Culture
Translating your corporate culture into something tangible in the virtual space can be a bit of a challenge. However, there are ways to bring it across.
Set up regular touchpoints. Working alone from home, checking off a task list, and chatting in a type box can leave employees feeling quite disconnected from their teams. It's a good idea to create regular opportunities for touchpoints.
For instance, smaller teams (15 or less) could have daily meetings where everyone gives a rundown of what they are up to. Larger teams might benefit from check-ins with their managers or regular video updates from the CEO/management team. Try a few approaches to see what works. You can also use group communication channels for more casual conversations among team members.
Create moments for fun and banter. Connect the recruits to your company on a human level. Whether you have some refreshments dropped off at their homes on a Friday, or simply add a Slack channel for memes and jokes, it’s important to create warmth for new workers.
The virtual onboarding process is one of a series of very important moments that matter along the employee journey. Make sure you hit all the high notes by facilitating vital connections, paving the road ahead, and integrating remote recruits into your culture.
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