First impressions leave a lasting mark on your employees. This is especially true when their entire experience with your company is virtual.
Employees onboarded prior to the pandemic report “significantly higher” satisfaction with their company than those onboarded virtually. In recent years, new hires have even quit before they started or shortly after their first day because of a disappointing—or nonexistent—onboarding experience.
So what are brands getting wrong? Too often, HR teams or supervisors improvise the new hire onboarding, which means employees get an inconsistent depth and quality of experience. In other cases, HR teams still use their in-person onboarding playbook, which fails to address issues vital for supporting hybrid and remote employees.
To engage new hires, companies must reinvent their onboarding process to reflect the realities of virtual and hybrid work. Luckily, creating a fulfilling virtual onboarding is easier than you might think. Here’s how.
5 Steps For Building a Successful Virtual Onboarding Plan
An employee’s onboarding experience will set the tone for their future with your company, so you should plan each element with careful consideration.
Follow these five steps to create a hybrid and remote employee onboarding process that makes a positive first impression and sets them up for ongoing success:
Step 1: Pre-boarding Activities
New hires will be eager to officially start their roles from the moment they sign the paperwork. Provide employees with pre-boarding activities and resources that help them become familiar with your company culture and values and begin to prepare for their work.
Think through your employee’s experience from the moment you hire them: How will you welcome them to the team, and what questions will they have? A few essential things to provide include:
- A series of welcome emails that share vital information and explain what the employee’s first day or week will look like
- Company handbooks or resources that detail your company’s culture and procedures, as well as guidelines for effective written communication in virtual settings
- Mailed swag packages with branded items, such as notebooks, laptop stickers, or apparel
- A schedule of introductory meetings that will foster engagement
Before your new hire starts, ensure that you plan to get them the tools and equipment they’ll need for virtual work.
Step 2: Orientation and Training
Your pre-boarding activities should answer your employee’s initial questions and clearly explain what they should expect on their first day. Now, it’s time to plan their official orientation and training process.
- Plan a Day 1 schedule and prepare assets that give an overview of the employee’s core responsibilities, team dynamics, and company processes.
- Use video conferencing tools to facilitate interactive sessions and connect the new hire with coworkers and company leadership.
- Provide hands-on training and help overcome technical hurdles.
- Establish clear guidelines for virtual communication etiquette, including response time expectations and office hours.
Step 3: Job-Specific Training
It can be difficult for many people to adjust to a new hybrid or fully remote work environment. Onboarding is a perfect time to share remote work tips and job-specific advice for navigating your company’s virtual workplace.
For example, consider hosting online courses and webinars that explain key concepts or give a tutorial on your workplace tools. Provide training materials that cover the specific tools, software, and processes that will help them feel more productive and fulfilled in their work. Store all help documents and FAQs online so employees can access them whenever needed.
Step 4: Mentorship and Coaching
Mentorship and coaching programs provide ongoing support and guidance to remote employees. Pair experienced team members with new hires to help them understand their roles, navigate the team dynamics, and receive career guidance. Connect new hires with mentors during their first week, and encourage frequent check-ins during the first 90 days. Afterward, mentors and mentees should meet at least once monthly.
Step 5: Performance Feedback
Remote employees need performance feedback to understand how they can improve in their roles and progress to the next level. Schedule regular evaluations and check-ins to discuss each employee’s progress, address their challenges, and provide constructive feedback for continuous improvement. There are useful online feedback tools that can streamline this process.
Communication Makes Remote Onboarding Successful
New employees naturally feel anxious about joining a company and engaging primarily through text and video. Help alleviate potential negative feelings by fostering open and regular communication channels to invite questions and provide updates, clarifications, and guidance.
Carefully plan each step of your onboarding process, and continually refine your approach based on employee feedback and new insights you gain. Employees with an engaging onboarding experience can more quickly integrate into your culture and support a healthy workplace.
Of course, many other considerations go into conducting virtual employee onboarding. For a complete guide packed with tips and step-by-step instructions, download our virtual onboarding e-book.