With a large percentage of U.S. employees now working remotely as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, hiring and onboarding of new employees must—by necessity—be done virtually. Doing so can be a challenge if your organization is new to the experience, but it’s important to master the intricacies so you can successfully move forward with your business while the global workforce is mired in uncertainty.
For most organizations, the concept of virtual onboarding is completely new, and many companies are trying to figure it out as they go along. Hiring employees virtually and having new recruits start out working from home—often without ever meeting anybody in person during the hiring process—is unprecedented, but a part of our new (if temporary) reality. Getting it right is crucial…and that demands structure and coaching, according to employment experts.
Keep in mind that you are building a foundation for new hires to succeed, and doing so remotely can be challenging. Don’t fall into the trap of making a single phone call to welcome them aboard and thinking that’s enough. It isn’t. Virtual onboarding should involve a series of interactive video sessions that give the new hire an overview of the company, including its products and services, and ongoing meetings with team members and managers. Video is key for its structure and uniformity; now is the perfect time to create a series of videos revolving around induction topics to help the new hire ease into his or her position. Think of it as a sort of ongoing digital orientation, and take advantage of platforms specifically designed to connect teams remotely, such as Zoom. The process might include training sessions, one-on-one meetings, company-wide presentations, and even virtual happy hours to serve as icebreakers that can help new team members get to know one another in a casual setting.
For these virtual onboarding techniques to be successful, your new hire will require the right technology. Providing them with hardware such as a laptop is the easy part; more challenging is having them set up a workstation without the assistance of an IT department. Instructional videos with detailed set-up instructions can help overcome these obstacles. Many software programs can be downloaded remotely.
In order to build engagement and forge connections, make onboarding as interactive as possible. Don’t expect your new hire to sit in front of their computer for eight hours watching videos; incorporate breakout sessions that encourage chatting with team members through a platform such as Slack or utilizing the group feature on Zoom. Be sure to schedule virtual lunches and coffee breaks, as well. An especially thoughtful touch could involve sending a welcome basket to the new employee’s home with company swag in order to make them feel like they are part of the company despite the physical distance.
Onboarding is an ongoing process that takes some time. Check in frequently to make sure your employee has the tools and resources needed to succeed, and continually emphasize connectedness and collaboration. When this crisis passes and your new hire goes to the office for the first time, he or she should already feel like a part of the team…even when meeting coworkers for the first time.