The era of digitization has enabled organizations of all sizes across industries to look at solutions to maximize employee potential and optimize onboarding time. This, along with the COVID-19 pandemic, ushered companies worldwide to adopt flexible working options. As remote work has become more prevalent today than ever before, virtual onboarding has emerged as a key solution for organizations to welcome and integrate new employees into their teams. Creating an impressive virtual onboarding process can not only help organizations streamline their recruitment efforts but can also enhance employee engagement and retention.
According to a survey by Gartner, 82% of employers plan to allow employees to work remotely at least some of the time, even after the pandemic ends. Furthermore, according to data by Aberdeen Group, organizations with strong onboarding procedures increase productivity by over 70% and new hire retention rates by 82%. These statistics underscore the importance of developing an effective virtual onboarding program to support remote workers.
Creating an impressive virtual onboarding process can seem like a daunting task, but it is essential to establish a structured and engaging program to welcome and integrate new employees effectively. The process should include clear communication channels, comprehensive training programs, and opportunities for socialization to build team relationships.
From creating a welcoming and inclusive culture to providing access to essential resources and tools, a few practical tips and steps can ensure that your virtual onboarding program is a success.
What is virtual onboarding?
The process of incorporating new hires into a company’s culture and operations through the use of technology and distance communication tools is known as virtual onboarding. As more businesses implement policies allowing for remote work or provide hybrid work arrangements that include in-person and remote work, this method is growing in popularity.
Online training, virtual meetings, and digital resources are frequently used in virtual onboarding to give new hires the knowledge and assistance they need to accomplish their job obligations and fit in with their team. Even when they are not physically present in the office, the process strives to make new employees feel welcomed, informed, and supported.
To help new hires feel supported and engaged during their first few months on the job, virtual onboarding may involve orientation events, introductions to important team members, training on corporate policies and procedures, access to digital resources, and continuing communication. Organizations may increase productivity, increase employee satisfaction, and improve employee retention rates by offering a thorough and engaging virtual onboarding experience.
Why is onboarding important?
It is the first opportunity for an organization to establish a positive relationship with new employees, build trust, and align expectations. New employees who receive comprehensive onboarding are more likely to feel confident in their roles, have a clear understanding of their responsibilities, and be more productive in their work. They also tend to feel more engaged and committed to the organization’s mission, values, and goals. In contrast, employees who do not receive adequate onboarding may struggle to acclimate to their new roles, feel disconnected from the company culture, and may be more likely to leave their positions.
According to research by the Society for Human Resource Management, nearly 1 in 3 new hires quit their job within the first six months of employment, and the cost of replacing an employee can range from 50% to 200% of their annual salary. By investing in a strong onboarding process, organizations can reduce turnover rates, save time and money, and create a positive work environment that promotes employee retention and engagement. It provides a foundation for a positive relationship between the employee and the company, increases engagement, productivity, and retention rates, and ultimately contributes to the overall success of the organization.
Create a virtual onboarding checklist
A virtual onboarding checklist is a comprehensive list of tasks and activities that organizations can use to ensure that new employees have a smooth and engaging onboarding experience. The checklist typically includes items such as setting up technology and equipment, introducing new employees to team members and company culture, providing training and orientation materials, and establishing regular communication channels to ensure ongoing support.
Once the checklist is developed, organizations should assign tasks to specific team members and establish deadlines to ensure that everything is completed in a timely and efficient manner. It is also important to regularly review and update the checklist to ensure that it remains relevant and effective. By taking a structured and comprehensive approach to virtual onboarding, organizations can set their new employees up for success and establish a strong foundation for a long and productive career.
Send welcome kit before their first day
This gesture sets a positive tone and shows that the organization is invested in their success. It also provides an opportunity for new employees to familiarize themselves with the company’s culture and values before they start their job. This proactive approach to virtual onboarding not only helps new employees feel welcomed and prepared but also sets the stage for a smooth transition into their new role. It demonstrates that the organization values communication and transparency, which are essential components of a successful remote work culture. By sending a welcome kit before their first day, organizations can improve employee engagement and retention rates, which ultimately benefits the organization as a whole.
Ensure employees are set to start on Day 1
Starting a new job can be both exciting and overwhelming for new employees. As an employer, it is essential to ensure that your new hires are set to start on Day 1 to create a positive and engaging onboarding experience. To ensure employees are set to start on Day 1 of onboarding, employers should communicate early and often with their new hires.
This includes sending out a welcome package, outlining the onboarding process, and providing access to necessary information, such as company policies and procedures, benefits information, and training materials. Employers should also provide new employees with the necessary hardware and software tools they need to perform their job duties, such as laptops, access to company software, and other relevant equipment. By providing new hires with the necessary resources and support, employers can help them feel confident and prepared to start their new job.
Virtual onboarding with video & video conferencing
Virtual onboarding with video and video conferencing has become an essential component of many organizations’ remote work policies. It enables employers to provide a personalized and engaging onboarding experience for new employees, even when they are working remotely. Video conferencing tools such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet allow employers to conduct virtual meetings, facilitate communication, and provide access to training resources and digital tools. By using video, organizations can create a more immersive onboarding experience and connect with new employees in a more meaningful way.
Moreover, video technology allows employers to build relationships with new employees and foster a sense of belonging within their organization. Virtual tours of the workplace, video introductions to team members, and other interactive video content can help new employees get a better understanding of the company’s culture, values, and working environment.
Get the right tools to enhance remote onboarding experience
The importance of having the right tools for virtual onboarding cannot be overstated. Unlike traditional onboarding processes, remote onboarding requires the use of technology to connect new hires with their team members, provide training, and share important company documents. Video conferencing platforms allow for face-to-face interactions, which are essential for building relationships and fostering a sense of belonging in remote workers.
Project management tools help new hires understand their responsibilities and track their progress, ensuring that they are on track with their work. Document-sharing platforms make it easy to distribute important company policies, procedures, and other documents to new hires, ensuring that they have access to the information they need to succeed. In short, having the right tools in place is essential for creating a positive and successful remote onboarding experience.
Set up virtual “Buddy” and “Guide” relationships
A “Buddy” is a colleague who is assigned to a new hire to help them navigate their new role and integrate into the team. Buddy can provide guidance and support, answer questions, and share knowledge about the company culture and work processes. A “Guide” is typically a senior employee or manager who is responsible for providing overall guidance and support to the new hire. This relationship helps the new hire understand their role and responsibilities and can help them progress in their career within the company.
These virtual buddy and guide relationships are a great idea to work upon for remote onboarding as they help to establish a connection between new hires and their team members. They can also help to reduce the anxiety and stress associated with starting a new job, especially in a remote setting. By setting up these relationships, companies can ensure that their new hires have the support they need to succeed in their roles and become valuable members of the team.
Establish communication cadence and process
Unlike traditional onboarding, virtual onboarding relies heavily on virtual communication to ensure that new hires feel supported and connected to their team members. A clear communication process and cadence can help set expectations and build trust between the new hire and their team. For example, a company may schedule daily check-ins with the new hire’s direct supervisor for the first week, followed by weekly check-ins for the next month. This regular communication helps the new hire feel supported and provides a forum for addressing any concerns or questions they may have.
Another example of establishing a communication cadence and process for remote onboarding is assigning a buddy or mentor to the new hire. This person can act as a point of contact for the new hire, answer questions, and provide support throughout the onboarding process. Regular virtual meetings or check-ins between the new hire and their buddy or mentor can help build a connection and make the new hire feel more comfortable and connected to the team.
Curate your training modules for online consumption
Training modules are essential components for building skills and knowledge in various industries. In today’s time, online training has become increasingly popular, allowing learners to access training from anywhere, at any time. The modules should be structured in a logical sequence, starting with the basics and progressing to more advanced topics. The use of multimedia elements such as images, videos, and interactive quizzes can enhance engagement and retention.
Incorporating social learning elements into the training modules can also be beneficial. This can include forums, group discussions, and virtual meetings, allowing learners to interact with each other and learn from each other’s experiences. Assessment and feedback mechanisms are vital to evaluate the effectiveness of the training modules. Regular assessments can help identify knowledge gaps and areas for improvement, while feedback mechanisms can provide valuable insights into the learners’ experiences and help refine the training modules.
Create a place for new employees to ask questions and share their thoughts and ideas with one another
Starting a new job can be overwhelming, and It must be understood that having a space to ask questions and discuss ideas can make a big difference in the virtual onboarding process. In fact, according to a survey by Glassdoor, companies with a strong onboarding process improve new hire retention by 82% and productivity by over 70%.
The employee forum must be designed to provide a safe and collaborative space for new team members to share their thoughts, ask questions, and get to know each other. This platform can help to foster a sense of community and belonging among new hires, which is essential for employee engagement and job satisfaction. Forums should be moderated by experienced team members, who will be on hand to answer questions and provide guidance where necessary. The company should encourage all new employees to participate actively in the forum, as it is a fantastic opportunity to network and learn from colleagues across different departments and roles.
Encourage feedback from your new employees
When you first hire someone, they are likely to have fresh perspectives and ideas that can be valuable to your organization. Additionally, encouraging feedback shows your new employee that you value their opinions and are open to hearing their thoughts. To encourage feedback, start by setting the expectation that feedback is welcome and encouraged.
During onboarding, emphasize that the company is open to hearing suggestions and ideas from everyone on the team. It also provides opportunities for employees to share their thoughts, such as regular check-ins or team meetings where everyone is encouraged to speak up. When receiving feedback, it is important to listen actively and without judgment. Take the time to understand the employee’s perspective and ask follow-up questions to ensure you have a clear understanding of their feedback.
In conclusion, creating a virtual onboarding program for remote employees requires careful planning and execution. However, investing time and effort in creating a comprehensive and engaging program can have long-lasting benefits for both the organization and the employees. By providing a structured onboarding process, remote employees can feel more connected to the company culture and their colleagues and be better equipped to perform their job duties effectively.
A successful virtual onboarding program can also improve retention rates and overall employee satisfaction, leading to a more productive and engaged workforce. Therefore, it is essential to prioritize the development of a virtual onboarding program that addresses the unique challenges of remote work and sets new employees up for success from day one.