Virtual onboarding new employees : Our tips for success

How to virtually onboard new employees

At this stage of the COVID-19 outbreak, it is still unclear how long the encouraged “work from home” will last. For some businesses, this will mean pressing pause on onboarding new employees. For businesses that have business-critical hires or are growing during this time, the show will have to go on. This means that some new employees will be onboarded into the company virtually.

Onboarding new employees virtually is something companies can do with the right amount of planning, coordination, and proper tools. If you’re considering taking your onboarding process virtual over the next few months, here are a few areas to consider as you map out your new hire’s welcome into the organisation.

If you’re making an investment to grow your team during these uncertain times, it’s more important than ever that you get the onboarding process right for any new employees.

Here’s our straightforward guide to ensuring that your new team members join your organisation smoothly and remember their first few weeks as a positive, exciting experience: 

Before they start:

  • Before you commit to onboarding new employees, meet with all departments involved in the onboarding process and come up with a realistic plan of action.
  • Ensure that all of the necessary paperwork has been completed. Copies of contracts and policies can be sent and returned via email.
  • Confirm their start date with the rest of the team and agree who will be responsible for different elements of the induction and training processes.
  • Inevitably there will be changes with the required communication with the new employee so decide who will be responsible for sharing information with them regarding their first day. This information should include
  • Links to join any video conference taking place
  • A clear agenda of what they should expect in their first few days
  • What devices they should be using. Hey may need to connect through their personal device as you help them set up their work device
  • What time the onboarding sessions will begin and end
  • How they can prepare (ensure they have a strong WiFi connection, a quiet space to work, functioning camera etc.)
  • Since this new employee won’t be in the office on their first day, remember to ship their laptop and equipment to their home have the necessary software licenses and logins set up and ready for them to use from day one.
  • This may be the first time the new hire is working remotely, so be as explicit and instructional as possible.

Our guide on ‘How to Conduct an Effective Virtual Interview’ may help with some other useful tips https://www.vanillarecruitment.co.uk/client-recruitment-advice/how-to-conduct-an-effective-virtual-interview/

Meeting the team

Welcome your new employee to your company with a brief face-to-face meeting. If you typically do an in-person presentation introducing the company then replace it with a video conference that will allow them to ask all of their questions and get clear explanations.

If you haven’t used videoconferencing tools before, don’t worry. There are a lot of reliable options on the market: ZoomSkypeCisco Webex MeetingsMicrosoft Teams, and Google Hangouts Meet are some of the most widely used platforms.

Consider scheduling the following events over video conference to incorporate the new employee into the team

  • Individual introductions to each of their teammates
  • A team virtual lunch
  • Introduction to leaders in their team/cross-functional teams
  • Introductions to support teams
  • Assigning them 2-3 tasks they can complete over their first week
  • Team meeting to discuss the team culture and expectations

Alternative training channels

Depending on what market you work in, there could be a considerable amount of training to be covered in the first month. It might seem tricky initially to transfer what would normally be taught in person into a virtual process, but it can be done.

If you already have an onboarding process in place, you’ll want to modify your content to be accessible for virtual workers. If you typically have the learner sitting with someone to review tools and systems, consider replacing that with short eLearning instructional videos. Loom is an excellent tool for training videos.

Video training sessions can be pre-recorded and made available for the new employee to watch and work through virtually, at their own pace. The beauty of this is once a session has been recorded, it can then be used again in the future for any further recruits.

Webinars are also used frequently as a training tool and can be held live to encourage interaction and Q&A sessions. This approach can be particularly valuable in terms of maintaining an interactive element with other members of the team.

Teams can quickly foster a sense of belonging with their new colleagues if they’re involved with helping to train them, working with them on similar projects and getting familiar through daily video meetings.

Company culture

Company culture is just as important in onboarding as day-to-day duties and responsibilities, but it’s sometimes easy to forget this when we are working remotely. Introduce your virtual employees to the background and history of the company and other interesting information. Talk about the company values and mission statement and give them an opportunity to ask any questions they might have about this area.

They might also find it interesting to be paired with a specific employee to learn about their career path into and within the company. 

Regular reviews and adjustments

Once you have a system in place for virtual onboarding, it can be easy to neglect its effectiveness.

As you deliver any content or presentations to new employees over video conference, do check in every minute or two to make sure they are still engaged and participating. The onboarding process will set the tone for the employee’s experience with the company, so it pays to invest in making it a great one!

With every new employee, you should evaluate your onboarding process. Once a virtual employee has been on the job for a while, ask for feedback. Now that they understand your company better, what could you have done differently? Implement these changes and try again.

Consider onboarding risks

If the dramatic impacts of COVID-19 continue for months, getting that sense of connection between a new hire and the business wrong in the early days can be damaging when people return to the workplace.

It is important during this period of virtual onboarding that your new employee receives the appropriate level of supervision, support and communication so that when we finally get back to normal, your new hire will feel like a valued and well-integrated part of the team.

At Vanilla Recruitment we have experienced first-hand the virtual onboarding process with our newest recruit Jodie Clements. Jodie started with us in March and has been training and working remotely from home. Jodie has shared her experience with us along with what her new daily WFH routine looks like – A day in the life of a remote recruiter.

Visit our Client Resources page and download our simple checklist to ensure your virtual onboarding goes smoothly.

Other pages of interest

For more useful information, news and resources feel free to look around our website and in particular our Client and Candidate pages including Client Journey, Candidate Journey, Training Courses, Case Studies, Client Resources, Candidate Resources and our regularly updated Blog.

We recruit throughout the East Midlands covering Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Rutland and the surrounding areas, especially Market Harborough, Lutterworth, Leicester, Corby and Kettering. We help people find their perfect job and match suitable job seekers with businesses looking to hire the best candidates across our five specialisms – SalesMarketingAccountancy & FinanceHR and Office