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Tips on Creating a Great Virtual Onboarding Experience

With remote working more popular now than ever before, it's important for companies to deliver a great virtual onboarding experience to new hires. Here are our tips.

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Clélie Protopapas image

Written by Clélie Protopapas

22 Jun, 2022  –  6 min read

Creating a great virtual onboarding experience

Even before the Covid-19 pandemic unfolded, working from home was gaining momentum. Many workers want more flexibility, a better work/life balance and a chance to eliminate the often lengthy commute. While many people have returned to the office, others continue to work from home. Employers are now faced with the challenge of fitting hiring, onboarding and other functions into this new world of hybrid work. Virtual onboarding best practices mean making sure that your new employees not only feel welcomed but start on the right track for a successful career with the company.

What is onboarding?

In simple words, onboarding introduces the newly hired employees to the company. It’s an opportunity for them to meet the team and learn about what they’ll need for their role. Virtual onboarding does the same but happens remotely using video conferences, online resources, webinars, etc. While remote onboarding may not involve handshakes, a physical tour of the office and going out for a team lunch, it can still deliver the same “human connection” employees get from traditional onboarding.

Why do you need a virtual onboarding process?

One of the biggest challenges of hybrid working for employers is onboarding new staff. You can’t just stroll by a new worker’s desk and check in on them or invite them out for lunch with the team. That’s why to make sure new hires feel welcome, excited and part of the team, you need a solid virtual onboarding checklist. This will make sure new employees understand the company’s vision and culture and how their role fits in. It can also positively affect employee engagement, productivity and all-around team performance, while also playing a key role in a person’s decision to stay. 

7 tips to creating a great virtual onboarding experience for new hires

Creating a great virtual onboarding experience can be challenging. There are all the text-based onboarding resources to get through, and your new employees must be provided with all the technology they need. The remote onboarding experience can also feel isolating and lonely at times. With limited face-to-face contact, it can be hard to tell how a new employee is settling in. Regardless of the size of your business, we have some great virtual onboarding ideas that will help you create a process that welcomes, engages, informs and, for the long run, retains new talent. Here are seven virtual tips to help your remote onboarding programme succeed.

1. Start early

The virtual onboarding process should start as early as possible. Don’t wait for your new hire’s official first day. This period of “pre-boarding” gives you the chance to contact them and answer their questions. This could include:

  • Welcome email: Let them know that you are excited for them to start working with you, confirm their start date and ask if there’s anything they need.
  • Set them up with messaging and video chat software: Make sure they are added to any relevant groups so that they and the team can virtually meet before their first day.
  • Personalised video messages: Send them short video messages from team members to help ease any first-day nerves. You can also add other videos that give a brief overview of the company, its structure, vision and goals. These videos can be easily created, edited and shared through social media, email or directly via Seenit.

2. Assign a mentor or a buddy

It’s a good idea to assign every new remote employee a mentor or buddy who can guide them through their first month. A virtual buddy can be their go-to for any questions or issues that crop up about the job or the company. Choose someone you know is particularly good at welcoming new people. They also need to be a good ambassador for the organisation and willing to be on hand to help and provide support. If they can’t meet in person, a new employee can “meet” with their buddy for a virtual coffee, lunch or just regular catch-up and use them as a sounding board.

3. Don’t worry about over-communicating

Starting a new job can be an anxious time, especially if someone feels like they are doing so without any guidance. While you don’t want to overwhelm new employees, you want them to feel welcomed and have all the tools and information they need to navigate the road ahead successfully. Use email, video and chat to stay connected. You can set up a schedule so that new employees have contact with at least two different people each day. This could be their manager, HR, buddy, team member, another new employee or someone from the tech team.

4. Harness the power of video

Video is a powerful tool in both the virtual onboarding process and all ongoing employee communications. It’s much more effective than sending out numerous dull documents for new recruits to read. With Seenit, you can gather videos from across your organisation and put them together to create an engaging virtual onboarding package. You can create a welcome video that introduces new employees to the company and walks them through their first month to give them an idea of what to expect. You can also use video to explain how your product or service works, make virtual employee introductions and communicate the company’s culture and values.

5. Setup team meet-ups

An important part of onboarding is turning any anxiety or uncertainty into enthusiasm about the role. Team meet-ups or virtual ice breakers are a great way to do this. If people can meet up, ask new employees to participate in coffee get-togethers. Existing team members can gather with new employees for an informal coffee to get to know each other. If meeting in person isn’t possible, online social meet-ups are the next best thing. Virtual team social activities such as quizzes can be a great way to improve team communication, build trust and reduce loneliness.

6. Set targets

Setting goals is an important part of onboarding new employees. Assign them tasks to complete at frequent intervals to help keep them motivated and on track. Begin with some fairly easy-to-meet goals so they can start contributing immediately and gain confidence. Then gradually increase their responsibilities. If you identify any skills gaps, you can use your regular virtual one-to-one to discuss them and what training opportunities are available. 

7. Do regular check-ins and get feedback

Don’t just assume your virtual onboarding is successful because you haven’t heard anything from your new employee. Check-in with them regularly to see how they are getting along, find out about their experience and anything you can improve on. Making regular online one-on-ones part of the onboarding process will let you track how well it’s working and help new employees stay engaged, happy and productive. Make sure you ask all new employees for feedback about their onboarding experience to help you improve your processes. Create a short online survey to rate different parts of the process and leave comments and suggestions. 

Virtual onboarding is all part of creating a great first impression. How you welcome new employees and guide them through their first few weeks can make a big, lasting difference. Businesses that nail the virtual onboarding experience have better employee engagement, performance and retention. Don’t be afraid to borrow from the best practices of others as you build a virtual onboarding programme that helps turn your new hires into enthusiastic company ambassadors.

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