31 Jul Virtual onboarding, where do you begin?
Remote working allows for an enormous degree of flexibility for the employer and the employee.
But when you have staff who also need to be onboarded virtually, things become can become difficult.
After all, you now lack the face-to-face contact – the warm handshake from the general manager, the first-day drink with a work buddy, or even a tour of local coffee shops.
How can you account for the lack of human contact whilst still creating a sense of engagement?
Frequent interaction and communication with your new hire will ensure they feel as engaged, supported and connected as possible.
One-to-one time is a hugely important aspect of an onboarding process. Carve out time for regular check-ins to see how they’re doing, especially in their first week. You want to remind them that they are not working in isolation and that you are there to support them. You should also be available to answer any questions they may have. Use your collaboration tools to do this, like Microsoft Teams, and if you are unavailable then make sure someone else in the team can step in and help.
Adjust your process
If you already have an onboarding process in place, you’ll need to modify the content to be accessible for virtual workers.
Millie Muncey, Recruitment Manager at GRC International Group explained in our webinar on virtual recruitment and onboarding that “HR teams need to be agile and adapt existing processes to fit with current priorities”.
Some processes you may need to adapt to fit with your new virtual processes:
If you typically hand new hires a welcome pack, full of useful documents, these will now have to be amalgamated digitised and sent out to your new colleague. There are some great E-signature resources that streamline the process and make it much more secure than the post!
If you typically do an in-person presentation introducing the company, you’ll have to modify that to suit a virtual learning environment.
If you typically have a new hire sit with a member of the team to review tools and systems, consider replacing that with short eLearning instructional videos. Better still, have an experienced team member to run through the tools and systems through video conferencing.
You can still refer them to eLearning, but this blended approach will enrich the onboarding experience further and let your team get to know your new starter.
Be mindful that it can be overwhelming to be onboarded in a completely remote environment and that the new employee’s learning journey may need to be amended along the way. By spacing out learning, you will give the new hire a chance to absorb the information and ask questions instead of inundating them with content all at once.
In these unusual times, when many people are responsible for children at home as well as their work, you can add some much-appreciated flexibility. Let your new hire know they can work their way through onboarding information at their own pace and in their hours.
Communicate upfront that you are aware of variables such as childcare and other challenges currently being faced. This shows empathy and sets a positive and supportive tone that can create strong loyalty for the long term.
In summary …
Successful onboarding ensures a clear path for employees as they join a new company. Even in these unprecedented times, the shift to remote working shouldn’t prevent new employees from having a positive experience when starting a new role. Indeed, a good onboarding experience will eliminate many of the ambiguities and confusion surrounding virtual work, allowing new team members to settle into their new job quickly and begin to build the relationships and trust they need to deliver results.
Remember that the onboarding process sets the tone for the employee’s experience with the company so, it pays to invest time and effort in making it a positive one.