The coronavirus pandemic has changed the dynamics of work culture. Companies worldwide witnessed a sudden shift from working in the office to embracing the virtual as the new reality. Everything now from conducting virtual screening to handing out offer letters is confined to laptops and computers’ rectangular screens.
Suddenly, a constant and steady internet connection has become crucial, and the whole new dimensions of online work ethics are being rewritten. The new era has paved the way for virtual onboarding. According to TCS, the uncertainty due to pandemic has created a multitude of changes. HRs need to perk up and assist businesses in onboarding new hires using innovative ways. Herein, when welcoming a recruit on board, the task of making the process is a new challenge in itself.
Before we proceed to the checklist, let’s take a moment to understand what is virtual onboarding and why you should care for it.
What is Virtual Onboarding?
Onboarding is a quintessential process both for the company and the joinee. Its role in rendering the first official impression of the company to the latter is indispensable. Not surprisingly, every recruit feels butterflies in their stomach when meeting their new colleagues in a physical workstation or virtually.
However, the crux in virtual onboarding is to make them feel welcomed as a part of the team even when working remotely, though devoid of any in-person conversation.
Virtual onboarding implies welcoming a new joinee into an organization using virtual platforms. This is accomplished through a series of virtual meetings and organization specific tools.
As a part of this, the new entrant is run through the tasks, introduced to the teammates, and given a taste of the work culture. In short, it is the process that acquaints the recruit to the actual working culture, thereby giving a glimpse about the organization and its ethics – everything through virtual tools.
Importance of Virtual Onboarding
According to the HR Daily Advisor survey, 91% of employees stick around for at least a year at a new company, and 69% of them stick around for at least 3 years if the company has a well-structured onboarding program.
Another survey of Indeed reveals, 4 out of 10 employees who resigned within the first half of the year highlighted the onboarding process as an essential criterion that helped them continue in the company.
These statistics thus prove how vital the onboarding process is.
Virtual Onboarding Best Practices
Thus, without much ado, let us dive into the virtual onboarding checklist for your full-time remote employee to ensure the new entrant is well acquainted with your team, work ethics, and culture.
#1: Let the New Joinee Feel Ease
Leverage the meeting tools to acquaint your recruit with their team and managers. You can ease the stress by arranging for some welcome activity or task.
- Set up a virtual coffee meet or a luncheon by ordering from Ubereats. Besides, how about setting up a quick introductory meeting followed by a virtual tour session of your office?
- Maybe you could dig into and share some of the photos of previous events or celebrations that happened inside the office to give them a peek into their workplace.
#2: Establish Connections
Unlike during normal times, when an employee’s joining day involved touring around the office, introducing, and getting acquainted with the team, a lot has changed with virtual onboarding. A face-to-face introduction does reduce a lot of anxiety that every new joinee experiences, thereby letting them feel a part of the organization. However, now that this part of the welcome is hardly possible, it’s best not to let the virtual screen come hinder this experience.
- Arrange group video calls where the existing team members can have some small talk to ease the stress in joinee.
- Send them welcome kits to their home address with a touching greeting card and a lovely desk décor to motivate them.
#3: Assign a Virtual Mentor
Remote working differs in comparison to direct interaction. It can create employee fatigue and a sense of aloofness. As per Economic Times, Infosys uses its onboarding app wherein recruits are assigned advisors to walk and acquaint them with the work ethics.
Thus, assigning a team buddy or a virtual mentor can speed up connectivity, and growth. Besides, the mentor also proves a beneficial medium to interact with the candidates, share new tips, provide advice, and help them quickly acquaint themselves with the process.
Additionally, virtual mentors can prove an invaluable asset to get feedback and advice to define the recruit’s career progress with the organization.
- Choose experienced team members and professionals in the company and assign them as mentors for the new joinee to make them feel at home.
#4: Furnish the Work Equipment
It is yet another vital aspect of the virtual onboarding procedure. Deliver to your new joinees the required tools and equipment such as laptops, system configuration, etc. for smooth working. Furthermore, guide them on methods to download and install the software imperative to get started with the actual job. Similarly, having the IT setup already installed can help the joinee log into the system and start their work with the necessary credentials like email ID and password.
- Gather the information about the expertise in handling and debugging the equipment issues at prior from the candidate and make a note of it. This will give you clarity about the level of help they would require and you can make arrangements accordingly.
#5: Conduct Virtual Orientation with the IT Team
After you have finished the virtual touring and delivery of equipment, the next step is scheduling an online orientation after the IT Team has set up the specific software, technology such as the VPNs, email, and given the particular login credentials, etc. Ensure the system settings are correctly arranged and in place to prevent any confusion for the employee. Introducing them to the system configuration process through a video presentation can ease the process.
- Provide every new joinee with the emergency contact details of the IT support team.
#6: Add Employee to Relevant Channels of Communication
Include the new hire in the company’s alternate and real-time messaging channels. Besides, keep them in the loop of current happenings through email updates. As a part of the virtual onboarding, you as the HR must ensure the joinee is added to all communication pathways such as messaging groups, platforms like slack forums, email meetings, calendar invites, and informed about the meeting schedules.
- Ensure that all are on the same page, and no one misses any vital messages or updates.
- Check with the entrant of they face any issue getting used to the communication channel.
#7: Complete the Paperwork Virtually
The onboarding process doesn’t end with an introduction and tour. Signing documents forms a crucial phase of the process. There are plenty of tools that ease the management of complex activities. An e-signature is one way to allow recruits to view the document, make amendments and sign tax-related agreements from home itself. Besides, the Department of Home Security’s relaxation of the I-9 requirements due to the prevailing uncertainty of pandemic has eased the collection of important documents from home.
- Get yourself hands on experience at prior regarding various virtual document handling tools.
- Ensure that their salary account creation and other necessary processes are completed without any issues.
#8: Deliver the Company Orientation
Similar to an onsite induction onsite, you can make the virtual onboarding orientation program exciting. Create an orientation program that encompasses complete details of the organization; you would want the recruits to know. You can include the following aspects:
- Company’s history
- Mission and Vision
- Organizational structure
- Services and products
- HR Rules and Policies
- Data &Information Security Policies
- Perks and Benefits
- Details about each department
- Based on the total number of staff, you can add other people such as the recruitment manager, teammates, HODs, HR staff, and other staff, who can help you manage the orientation smoothly.
- Besides, conducting a group orientation for new joinee or virtual onboarding induction would ensure the recruits get acquainted with other staff.
#9: Throw Clarity on Job Responsibilities and Expectations
Going by the 2019 survey of Indeed, over 45% of recruits joinee who had completed less than six months in the company reasoned lack of proper guidelines surrounding the job role.
Training and acquainting the joinee with their role play an integral role in ensuring smooth business functioning. Including technical training as a part of virtual onboarding would help the joinee understand the job objectives precisely. Later, you can begin with assigning short-term goals divided through different deadlines after the completion of training.
- Create a job goal for a stipulated period like 2, 3, or 4 weeks. This will help recruits attune to the entire process, thereby leaving no room for confusion.
#10: Schedule Regular Meetings
Smooth working of an organization is a two-way process. It must include the employee getting acquainted with the process and understanding the working style and preferences. Thus, as a part of the virtual onboarding, schedule regular meetings with the recruitment manager or HOD and the joinee until the latter is well abreast with their responsibilities. As a result, it would also work for the company to gain insight into their performance and ensure they are suitably informed about their roles.
- Before scheduling meetings, give some time for the new joinee to get accustomed to the job.
- Also give them enough space to list doubts and areas where they need further help.
#11: Count the Feedback From the Employee
Let your recruit feel heard and connected throughout the virtual onboarding process and beyond. Share feedback forms and encourage them to share their opinions. Allow the joinee to talk about the individual experience on the entire virtual onboarding procedure.
- Include some questions about what they are seeking from the company in this virtual era. This is in fact a tried and tested method by many corporate companies.
Virtual Onboarding Checklist
Prior to Candidate Reporting:
- Schedule your onboarding activities
- Doublecheck the joining schedules and ensure all processes are smooth for the onboarding.
- Check the availability of IT equipment with the related teams.
- Gather the availability of prospect team members to schedule a welcome meet for the joinee.
- Send a confirmation mail to the candidate about the date and timings for the onboarding.
During the onboarding:
- Send candidates a virtual welcome kit.
- Get the paperwork done
- Deliver the company orientation
- Connect them to communication channels
- Arrange a virtual meet with teammates
- Assign and introduce the candidate to the online mentor
- Deliver work-related equipment
- Define employee role and objectives
A week or two later:
- Stay in touch and keep the onboarding process interactive through activities
- Schedule for a regular one-on-one meeting with the manager
- Gather feedback and make improvements
Although it is not entirely possible to give your new joinee a grand welcome like onsite at the office, you can still extend a warm welcome your team member onboard virtually utilizing appropriate channels effectively. A right mix of planning, scheduling, and regular monitoring is the key to extend a warm welcome for your new joinee.
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