Virtual onboarding of remote employees: how to do it right

Given the current climate, onboarding a new member of staff can seem pretty challenging, taking into consideration that most businesses have moved to remote working.

​“The only constant in life is change.”

This famous quote from Heraclitus has perhaps never felt so relevant, given the situation we currently find ourselves in. And as with any change, those who come out the other side on top are the ones who adapt quickest. With the global COVID-19 pandemic, most companies have been forced to move their entire activity online, a big change for many of us.

Your employees are your best brand ambassadors, so it is vital to make their initial encounters with your business positive. Brand ambassadors can add credibility and a valuable facet to communication work, which positively expresses your company image. One way to do so is by creating a beneficial and trustworthy relationship between the new starter and the team.

Given the current climate, onboarding a new member of staff can seem pretty challenging, taking into consideration that most businesses have moved to remote working and human interaction is not recommended. But with so much technology at our fingertips, it’s not as difficult as it may seem.

Onboarding is often seen as both costly and time consuming. Therefore, it is important to find the right balance, and through digital onboarding that balance can be achieved.

How do you make virtual onboarding a success?

Firstly, whilst most governments recommend social distancing and there is no way to ask your new starter to come into the office, you will need to get IT to set up their laptop and all other devices remotely. Then the best method would be to courier all the necessary equipment to the employee’s home address where they can set-up.

Most companies do already practice digital onboarding, from a paperwork point of view, as all necessary documents are sent prior to the employee’s start date, to be filled and signed. This allows employees to get started with job training sooner, rather than later.

Traditional onboarding procedures require employees to participate in training sessions for hours, possibly days, and this also impacts the time of the participating managers. These sessions can instead be set up online, condensed and spread throughout several days, so that the new starter can also get started on work.

Digital onboarding helps when it comes to ensuring the materials that are presented to the new employee are consistent, since they can be stored and easily located on the central server.

Another benefit to digital onboarding is that employees can complete the entire onboarding process at their own pace, in a reasonable timeframe. This applies if you have pre-recorded training videos – if not, this might be something to consider working on in the future. Also, this ensures nothing is missed, as online checklists can be built into the process, easier for all involved to track.

Occasionally, not all employees benefit from the same onboarding experience, when this is done traditionally. With digital onboarding set in place, companies can personalise each employee’s experience depending on their role, trying to adapt it to their personal experience. Why not arrange a virtual lunch, where you can send a free Uber Eats lunch to your new employee and you can video chat as you get to know each other? This is a nice personal touch, in a time where social distancing is key.

Digital onboarding is not only about providing tools for employees to seek information and complete documentation, but it is also about the ability to integrate the digital onboarding activity with learning management and other systems to ensure maximum productivity and connectivity.

A key part of this is building relationships with the team. One great way to do this virtually is to set up daily 15-minute virtual coffee meetings with the whole team where they will get to know each other better on both a professional and personal level. Another idea is to engage everyone in fun competitions, such as funniest baby photos of the team, or ‘guess whose home office’. Finding creative and fun ways to keep your team communicating regularly (and where you can discuss topics beyond work!) will really help your new starter settle in well and feel a part of your company.

Several studies have found that a structured and effective employee onboarding process is likely to boost employee performance by 11%, increase effort by more than 30% and that around 58% of the employees are likely to still be with the company three years later. Therefore, it’s essential to make sure your virtual onboarding process runs smoothly.

Posted over 3 years ago

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