Due to the continued growth of the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies continue to feature remote workforces—some making the decision permanent. As a result, virtual new hire onboarding is the new standard, and companies have been doing their best to get it right.
Onboarding employees at any time is a critical step. Studies show that up to 20% of new hires resign within their first 45 days in their new role. When onboarding virtually, that number proves to be even higher. Employers need to make the virtual process welcoming, seamless, and informative to ensure happy and engaged virtual new hires.
How to achieve it:
Create a Plan
Virtual onboarding should not consist of a single phone call or video meeting. It should be carefully planned out and conducted over multiple days to provide a comprehensive overview of the company and its products and services. Schedule meetings with department managers, team members, and members of your leadership team where appropriate.
The first week or two should include regular check-ins and touchpoints from the manager to ensure new hires do not feel forgotten or overlooked. The first day should begin with an in-depth session on the company culture, mission, vision, values, and company products or services. Additionally, you’ll want to include a question-and-answer session with a benefits expert who can help new hires finish benefit enrollment. Other fun activities can consist of a scavenger hunt to explore the company’s online resources or virtual coffee breaks with team members and key partners.
Make sure that you allow for enough time in the new hire’s training schedule for reflection, time to eat, and bathroom breaks. Too much information all at one time can overwhelm and frustrate new employees.
Before the first day, make sure to outline work logistics and expectations with the new hire clearly. What will the employer provide (i.e., computer, phone, monitor, mouse), and what do you expect the new hire to have on hand (i.e., internet access)?
Make sure new hires have the right technology. It is essential to have a thought-out process and strive to deliver technology to a virtual employee before Day 1. On Day 1, leave time for your internal IT team to virtually set up the equipment and configure it for the specific user. Provide a personalized approach for each new hire and set them up with the tools they need to succeed in their particular roles.
Build Engagement and Connection
Onboarding should be interactive to keep new hires engaged and connected. One way to do this is to stress the importance of one-to-one meetings between the manager and the new hire. A survey shows that 72% of employees said one on one time with their manager is one of the most critical aspects of the pre-boarding and onboarding process.
Managers should reach out to the new hire before their first day with a welcoming message and the name of a member on the team that will serve as the mentor to the new hire.
It is imperative to allow one-on-one meeting time with each new hire’s current team member. This allows for a more personal introduction and provides the needed immersion into the group. If timing permits, a virtual happy hour with the team to get to know co-workers in a more casual setting has also proven a great way to connect with the team.
Additionally, it is always a nice touch to send a ‘Swag Box’ to new hires before their first day. The box may contain a welcome message, office supplies, names and photos of team members, an organizational chart, snacks to munch on during training and meetings, a gift card for lunch on their first day, or company-branded gear.
Think Beyond a Week
Engagement and collaboration initiatives should not stop with the first week of onboarding. Companies need to think about how they are ensuring their employees feel valued and heard throughout their employment.
The onboarding stage should allow new hires to get familiarized and up to speed on the business’s nuances and their role. Remember, this may take a lot longer than a week to achieve.
Skimping on any of these critical steps could lead to untrained and disengaged employees, eventually leading to turnover. New hire onboarding is about providing the knowledge needed to do every part of the job. That’s why it’s important to develop a comprehensive plan for the virtual onboarding process.