Onboarding is the activity that transfers your new hires from recruitment into your workplace. When done well, onboarding creates better engagement, sets your employee up for improved retention, and enables you to create your talent branding.
But when you have employees working remotely and no physical office to welcome and connect new hires, what needs to change in the onboarding process to match all stakeholders’ needs?
Here are some tips for virtual onboarding and welcoming new hires to ensure they feel like part of the team and are set up for success.
1. Modify your onboarding content
You will need to modify your existing onboarding content for virtual delivery.
New welcome pack
The simplest way to revise your welcome pack documents is to collate and save as a PDF document to send out digitally to all new hires. The document can have links to websites or presentations, or the PDF can be interactive, with embedded videos and animations, for example. Ensure that you send this information ahead of the scheduled onboarding day so that new hires can familiarise themselves with necessary details on the organisation and the planned onboarding process.
Presentations and Tours
Video recordings can replace live presentations by HR or company management normally done during onboarding. Being mindful of the technology options available to new hires, it is still relatively simple to record and share 360-degree videos of the workplace to replace a physical tour. You could also consider using augmented reality to add some level of exploration, adding maps or floor plans or, in the simplest form, sharing photos of key workplace locations.
Create an online course or system simulations
If you usually have to introduce tools or systems, you could replace this with short online courses, interactive videos or system simulations. Another option is to schedule a virtual online conference session where a team member can walk through the content online and cover any questions.
Create opportunities for engagement with other new hires or colleagues
As the onboarding process revolves around social interaction, your virtual onboarding content mustn’t consist of only documents and videos. Try to incorporate as much human interaction as possible using video conferencing or mobile communication tools.
To keep new hires engaged, use the chat function or features such as polls or the raised hand to acknowledge questions. The more you can create a two-way communication, the more able you are to start building positive working relationships.
Successful onboarding needs new hires to get to know the company and one another. A simple option to encourage new hires to communicate with each other is to use any available communication tool to create cohort groups that they can continue to use to stay connected during their employment journey with the organisation. During the online onboarding session, take advantage of any video conferencing feature for breakout rooms so that small groups or pairs can get together to discuss points and start to form relationships.
Consider the schedule and timing
Decide whether virtual onboarding will be a one-day event or whether you want to spread out over time. This choice may reflect what you already do in live sessions or be driven by other considerations such as the time needed for different modes of content delivery or locations.
Virtual onboarding elements are often created in 20-minute segments, as this is the optimum time for participants to maintain focus.
A key consideration will be the time zones of your new hires. It may well be that you are hiring in different global locations. The increase in remote working means that you are onboarding larger numbers of new hires based in different geographical areas. To get the best out of the onboarding experience, you must schedule it at a reasonable time of day. Time zone differences may be one reason you decide to spread the onboarding into several sessions running over a specified range of dates.
2. Preparation and set up
You must be prepared ahead of time to enable virtual onboarding and ensure your new hires’ positive experience.
One of your considerations will be whether they have the right equipment, tools, and resources available not only to onboard but also to start working effectively on their first day.
If appropriate, you should order a laptop and any other resources ahead of their start date and have these delivered to their home. Alongside equipment, new hires will need to be given log in details, email addresses, passwords, and any other information they need to connect to their new company network.
As well as physical resources, new hires will need to have a clear communication that includes the following details:
- a plan for their orientation with dates and times
- links for any virtual sessions
- information on any preparation to be done ahead of the session, such as pre-reading, checking online links, or setting up their software and network access, for example.
On the day of the orientation session, it is useful to have planned for technical support to manage the conferencing software so that the presenter can focus on fully engaging the new hires and not have to worry about any technical issues.
3. Body language and communication style
During the session, it’s essential to be aware of body language and the use of nonverbal communication. Try to ensure you look at the camera, use names frequently, and encourage open and free communication amongst the new hires.
Demonstrating active listening is important when communicating online and creates a feeling of being welcomed and valued.
4. Obtain feedback and respond
Make time for regular checks on how they are doing in their first weeks so that they don’t feel that they are working alone and know that you are there to support them.
Using a quick post-onboarding survey to assess if the experience was positive and met expectations is an excellent way to improve the process and address any personal concerns once the new hires are in the workplace. Another option to consider is focus groups that can also be done via virtual conferencing. The focus should be given to reacting to any feedback provided to maintain trust and build relationships.
In summary, how you welcome a new hire and incorporate them into your company has an enormous impact on their engagement and speed to reach full potential and productivity. The move to remote working shouldn’t prevent new hires from succeeding in their role, and it pays to invest time and effort into ensuring that your virtual onboarding is a positive and inspiring experience.
Contact us at HRBluSky today to explore how we can support you in engaging your new hires.