Kate is in a quandary. She spearheads the curriculum for her organization’s onboarding program and needs to build a virtual program for the new hires who will be joining the organization shortly. As employees continue to work from home, Kate has started jotting down ideas for a virtual orientation. She is well aware that new joiners are quick to form first impressions. Their experience during the onboarding process will play a crucial role in how they perceive their new organization. An effective onboarding program has been known to boost employee engagement and retention.
Kate is not alone. All over the world, her counterparts face the same challenge. So, how do you welcome new hires remotely? How do you make them feel excited in the absence of office tours, team lunches, and meet-and-greets?
Let’s find out.
Virtual Onboarding Guidelines
As more and more organizations deliberate hybrid workplaces or a permanent work from home policy, our approach toward induction and new hire onboarding will warrant a paradigm shift.
Here are a few guidelines to follow in order to build a strategic onboarding program:
1. Create a robust onboarding schedule
You will agree that effective employee onboarding results in better employee retention. Research conducted by Glassdoor found that organizations with a strong onboarding process improve new hire retention by 82 percent and productivity by over 70 percent [i].
To begin with, design an employee journey map for every new hire. An engaging 30-60-90-day plan will provide the new employee with an opportunity to discover and engage with the new systems and teams at their own pace. Short introductory videos on the new team members, other employees, systems, and processes can be created to familiarize a new hire with the organization.
Conduct online meetings for introductions and create systems for team members to engage with the new employee. Also, include short videos on training topics that complement virtual meetings and sessions.
2. Equip new hires with technology
Make sure that your new hires have the technology they need to effectively engage in a remote working environment. For instance, you may expect the employee to attend a virtual meeting, but do they have the right equipment?
You need to identify the required software, provide the requisite hardware, network access, and configurations for an individual to perform their job. Develop an accessible portal for online documentation, including employee handbooks and employee-related information such as benefits, policies, etc.
3. Emphasize company values
Communicate your company’s culture and values to the new joiners. Herein, a key role can be played by the senior leadership team and company veterans. You can have them narrate the story of their journey within the company; the challenges and opportunities. This first-hand information (even virtually!) will give the new employee insights into the company and bring them closer to the company culture and people.
4. Assign a mentor or “work buddy”
Every new employee needs an Onboarding ‘Buddy’. A buddy educates the new employee about day-to-day processes, introduces him/her to the rest of the team, bridges social connections, and answers questions as they arise.
The real meat of what new hires need to know isn’t bound inside the employee handbook. A great deal of internal communication helps to build these. Buddies help new hires navigate unspoken social and cultural cues and increase their confidence in social settings. According to a survey by BambooHR, 56 percent of new hires say an assigned buddy is important to employee retention.
5. Build an information hub.
New hires need to digest the huge amount of information presented to them. This can be overwhelming, especially when spread across different sources. Creating a single resource to harbor learning content from the onboarding program can increase the effectiveness of the program. These ready reckoners could be hosted on a learning portal, mobile application, your virtual LMS, or a Google-like single-search box experience, where anything and everything that a new employee would need to know is readily at hand.
6. Ask for feedback
As most of us are new to virtual onboarding, a great way to improve the quality of the virtual onboarding process is to seek feedback from the new joiners. Find out what they liked or did not like about the session. You could benefit from a few good ideas that may come up from the feedback received, which can be implemented in the upcoming sessions. Be open to suggestions and constructive criticism and adapt practices when possible to ensure a positive experience for new hires.
Building a New Hire Onboarding Strategy
Ensure that your virtual onboarding programs are in line with the overall orientation programs for new employees. See the framework below for the highlights on how to build a robust onboarding strategy.
To wrap up
First impressions matter. How you welcome your new hire albeit remotely will have an enormous impact on how engaged they are and how quickly they reach their full potential and productivity.
There is no denying the fact that face-to-face interaction is relatively easier to ensure smooth induction and a virtual induction may not be a cakewalk to start with. But “Change is the only constant,” and we know that this change will persist. Hence, this is right time for us to adapt and proceed with virtual onboarding and induction as the new normal.
To know more, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
– Blog written by Sharon Dcosta, Instructional Designer at MPS Interactive
– Onboarding Framework by Dr. Shwetaleena Bidyadhar, SVP & Global Lead: Learning Design; CHRO at MPS Interactive