Running Your Business

Tips for Using Virtual Onboarding to Welcome, Train and Engage New Employees

  • Virtual onboarding new employees should begin well before their first day on the job
  • Find ways to introduce new hires to teammates and leaders throughout the company
  • Onboarding doesn't stop after the first day or week—regular check-ins can make a difference in their engagement and long-term success
Posted by October 26, 2020

As many organizations have transitioned to remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic, they’ve also needed to transition some key processes as well—chiefly, onboarding. Virtual onboarding allows you to safely welcome new employees aboard, while also ensuring that they’re acclimated to the company, the job and the culture.

Effective onboarding helps new employees hit the ground running and have a positive experience with your company. It also gives them an opportunity to start building relationships with their supervisors, managers and peers. So what’s the best way to go about virtual onboarding?

What Needs to Be Done, Even Before Day 1

Employees can—and should—be engaged before their official start date. As soon as their offer is accepted, they’re anxious to begin learning about and connecting with their new organization and teammates. A remote onboarding process allows this to happen easily and safely.

The sooner you can reach out and welcome new employees into the fold, the better. It sends a positive message and shows that your company is eagerly awaiting their arrival—even if that arrival will be virtual. This can also be a good time to send materials such as:

  • Welcome videos.
  • Videos and photos offering views/tours of where they’ll be working.
  • Videos of colleagues sharing information about the company.

Integrating Employees Into the Culture From the Start

Every interaction you have with a new employee makes an impact and conveys a message about your company culture. While culture can be more challenging to represent remotely, it can be done with a clear, targeted approach from the start of the employee’s tenure.

One key area of focus is ensuring that all methods of communication, from conversations to hiring materials, support the company culture and brand. Having HR and management work together on this can promote consistency and alignment. So they start to feel connected to the team, new employees should connect with their colleagues during early meetings and throughout the virtual onboarding process. In addition, consider including introductions to HR, IT representatives, relevant department heads and executive team members in the virtual onboarding process to further integrate new hires into your culture.

Remember, remote onboarding doesn’t need to be all business. Some of the social aspects of working in the office can be replicated through these digital interactions. Informal chat sessions, happy hours and even trivia or game nights can help new and veteran employees connect and get to know each other better.

Overcoming Common Remote Onboarding Challenges

One of the biggest challenges of virtual onboarding can be technology. Make sure remote employees have access to a strong internet connection to allow for smooth participation in online meetings, easy video downloads, etc. If they don’t, consider offering them a stipend to help them gain the access they need or, if they live in a remote area without good access, consider giving them a mobile hot spot.

Another challenge is overcoming the out of sight, out of mind mentality. When we physically work in the same area, we’re constantly reminded of our fellow employees; when we don’t, those natural reminders don’t exist. It’s important to schedule regular interactions and make a goal of checking in with new employees at least once a day. Getting to know them and making sure they have what they need can be instrumental in promoting their long-term success with your company.

In this highly virtual world, it’s becoming abundantly clear that digital connections are a viable way of getting to know others and staying connected with them. This is especially true when it comes to onboarding employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. With these tips, you can ensure your virtual onboarding process forges relationships with new talent, promotes your company culture, and strengthens engagement across your entire workforce.

Looking for more ways to support and engage your employees? Check out United Concordia Dental’s Employer Toolkit.

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