New Employee Onboarding Goes Virtual: Here’s How to Make it Successful

The remote workplace – still another impact of the COVID-19 pandemic – will be with us for the foreseeable future, and likely longer. But as more employers transition to a remote workforce or establish hybrid models that combine office and remote work, a new challenge has emerged: how to successfully onboard new employees in today’s virtual world.

This issue goes far beyond paperwork. It’s about ensuring new employees are engaged and connected with a company’s culture, values and mission; in short, the keys to success for any organization. The good news is that virtual onboarding can be done effectively. Here’s how to make it happen.

Virtual Employee Onboarding: At the time of hire

Some standard principles of new employee onboarding remain in place: make a new hire feel wanted from the moment a position is offered, and once it’s accepted, ongoing communication is a must. Create a 30-, 60- and 90-day onboarding plan, and share a welcome packet with the new employee before they start.

What’s changed is the way some of these goals are accomplished. Have managers and co-workers reach out prior to the start date to express their excitement for the new employee joining the team. This can be done virtually, through emails, phone calls or even an introductory Zoom call.

Similarly, tailor the welcome packet to the current environment in detailing what to expect on the job, how training will happen, how important documents are processed, and how work is assigned. Share digital platform links a new employee needs to get started, be sure they have the right equipment and technology in advance, and grant security access necessary to perform their role. You’ll be sending a message that your organization supports the success of its employees, whether they’re working at a desk in the office or from their homes.  

Virtual Employee Onboarding: When the employee starts

Pre-coronavirus, one of the first steps in new employee onboarding would be a tour of the workplace and a chance to meet fellow employees. So why not follow the same process now?

Develop a virtual tour that highlights everything a new hire should know. Include an official welcome, with introductions from colleagues; an explanation of the organization’s mission, vision and values from key leaders; and a clear description of standards and expectations all employees are expected to meet Be sure to archive the virtual tour so employees can return to it as needed. Grounding new hires in your company’s culture from the start is a critical factor in a successful onboarding experience.

Also, align each new employee with a “buddy” that can help them through their initial days, weeks and months on the job. Think of this as a “go to” person – not their supervisor, but ideally a peer and someone with some tenure at the company – that a new hire can ask questions and learn more about the organization. The two should connect regularly through virtual coffee or lunch meetings to ensure consistent communication that reinforces the company’s culture and values.  

Virtual Employee Onboarding: Going forward

With a remote workplace, an organization’s commitment to ongoing and open communication is more important than ever. Technology makes it possible, from virtual town hall meetings to digital company newsletters and email updates. Whether from the executive or department level, regular meetings and updates are a must; so, too, are showcasing and reiterating key messages, values and goals, all of which can be done virtually

In addition, take advantage of online survey tools to gather feedback. Ask employees what’s working and what isn’t, and take actionable steps to improve areas that need it. Even better, create a committee that meets virtually to enable employees to drive those improvements.

The work done upfront to establish a strong virtual employee onboarding program -- one that maintains and enriches your company’s culture, brand and values in a remote world – will pay big dividends down the road, from retaining top performers to sustaining and enhancing productivity and profitability.

As always, we’re here to help. Contact Alaant Workforce Solutions and let’s start a conversation today.

About the Author

Miriam Dushane

Miriam Dushane, Managing Partner

Miriam is all in when it comes to doing whatever she can to help the Capital District grow and thrive. She is passionate about helping talented professionals find the right job and her work in the community is focused on furthering our area as a center of economic vitality. Miriam likes to garden and care for her pets. She is a member of an adult-only skate group where she rollerblades every week. She loves the Mets! And she is obsessed with vacuum cleaners; she really likes to vacuum and has 6 right now.