Effective Virtual Onboarding: Charting the Course
I find myself fortunate as a recruiter to be in a profession that revolves entirely around people. I seek to understand what drives people, what they’re good at, what they see themselves doing five years from now, and even what they look for when it’s time to add a new member to their team. The best part is the excitement that builds when a candidate has accepted a new position and the start date is approaching.
While the start date may be the end of the formal recruiting process, it is just that – the start. It’s the start of what will hopefully be a successful, productive relationship for the candidate (now the “new hire”!) and the company. It is at this point that the onboarding process begins, which is a key window of opportunity for the company to make a great first impression and positively impact productivity, engagement, and employee retention. As with so many things, however, the current pandemic has created new and unique challenges for companies striving to deliver this experience. Many organizations are opting to onboard new employees virtually, which is uncharted territory for most.
Here are three themes to consider in building, or enhancing, your virtual onboarding process:
In normal times, companies can often get away with a “figure it out as we go” approach because normal onboarding would likely involve informal introductions around the office, a team lunch, a building tour, that sort of thing. In a virtual process, you can’t just swing by the new hire’s desk. It’s critical to be purposeful in crafting the program. You want to make sure they have the tools they need to start learning right away, to gain context for how their role fits into the overall organization, and to contribute as quickly as possible.
Starting on day one, you want your new employee to feel welcome and to have the opportunity to meet and socialize with team members, their supervisor, and those they’ll work with across functions. They need plenty of opportunity to get familiar with people and to begin to build the collaborative relationships that will be needed to accomplish their tasks.
It really isn’t possible to over-communicate in this environment. Open as many avenues for communication as possible and be responsive to questions and concerns. The company should actively seek feedback from new employees about the virtual onboarding experience and adapt the process in a timely fashion based on that feedback.
There is little doubt that this pandemic has shaken up the typical onboarding processes for many, many companies. Even so, if this challenge is approached with a purposeful eye, it is possible to create a successful, employee-centric onboarding process that is delivered virtually. Approach their first days and weeks with your company from a welcoming and people-focused perspective to nurture that spark of excitement that comes with a new employee’s start date.