Say hello to stress-free virtual employee onboarding

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A new employee walks through the door, full of anticipation and a bundle of nerves on their first day. They have so many questions. They are anxious to fit in and prove that they are the right person for the position.

Ideally, your company’s onboarding process involves more than first day paperwork and an office tour. But in reality, the initial excitement over bonding with promising new employees can get in the way of checking off all the less thrilling but vital onboarding tasks.    

Now visualize onboarding in the pandemic-driven remote workplace model. No HR office. No smiling colleague at the desk across the aisle. Only a Slack channel and a Zoom meeting later. Chances are you’ve left the new kid all alone in the lunchroom on the first day of school thinking they can fend for themselves.  

Failing to form an early positive bond with new employees can lead to the disappointment and expense of high turnover. According to the 2020 Retention Report from Work Institute, 37.9% of interviewees left their new organization within the first year of their employment. The majority of those new employees left within the first six months of being hired.

Remote working is no longer a trend. Flexible working options include WFH, which offers a significant edge to a company’s ability to compete for top talent and retain top performers. Likewise, the hiring process itself has become truly virtual; it will remain a robust option moving forward. To truly find the best of the best – and engage them right from the start – the virtual onboarding process must follow suit.

Investing in a thoughtful virtual onboarding process speeds new hires through those awkward early days, making them a productive part of the team in no time.

Five tips for creating a virtual employee onboarding process that works

1. Speed past the paperwork

Hiring traditions are out the window! There’s no reason to wait for the official first day on the job for the HR paperwork process to start. Why not make this first experience with your company a thrill? Along with providing forms in advance, how about shipping a welcome package of shiny new office swag with company branding: earbuds or headphones, task timer, notebook, pens, or tool pouch? Include help desk contact information or access to an HR associate to answer questions.

2. Give them the tools of the trade ASAP

Enlist your IT department to get your new employee set up early online including email and intranet access. Be sure they’re connected to all your social accounts. Ship equipment and tools if provided. These are the lifeblood of a remote working environment. Provide a virtual tour of your office, even if you won’t be visiting for a while. Encourage them to lurk on your Slack or Clubhouse channels or intranet and soak up your company culture like a newly arrived visitor to a foreign country.

3. Roll out the red carpet …

Craft a warm, well-planned welcome. Enlist co-workers at all levels to participate. Set up a video meeting early the first official day. Make it light and make it fun. Use virtual icebreakers to encourage communication and built trust. And remember to not leave new hires “alone in the lunchroom.” Have their first week well-coordinated with meetings with team members from across the organization to be sure they are not only learning their new role, but also feeling connected to the company. In fact, a successful virtual onboarding plan accounts for continuous team building, so roll out that red carpet and be sure it has lots of runway!

4. Set milestones to build confidence

Remove uncertainty by providing a checklist of concrete goals and specific job milestones for three to six months. Think of it like lists of baby and toddler developmental milestones for parents. Should they be running team meetings by March? Make sales goals by September? Specific expectations set everyone up for success. If your employee knows with clarity what milestones are meaningful, they’ll move forward with purpose.

5. Don’t be a stranger

Onboarding doesn’t end the first week, month, or even the first year. Don’t set it and forget it. Managers should conduct weekly video check ins to see how things are going. Even 15 minutes of face time lets a new hire answer questions, air concerns, and stay connected. Assign a peer mentor or “buddy.” Encourage colleagues, supervisors, and administrators at all levels to check in frequently.

Leverage virtual onboarding for long-term success

Thanks to lots of hard work, the search process identified the ideal candidate sure to become a valued team member. Be sure to see the process all the way through with a virtual onboarding process showing new employees they made the right decision to work for your company. Onboarding offers so much more than details about the company 401K. It’s a clean slate to create relationships and the sense of belonging that’s sure to give a new hire wings for success.

When new employees feel welcome, they feel valuable. They’ll up their game to show themselves worthy.  As Carl W. Buehner wrote and poet Maya Angelou made famous, they’ll never forget how you made them feel. They will remember this first impression until their last day. They will be proud to tell their family and friends, “Guess what? I have a great new job!” They might even refer the next ideal candidate.

Let Vaco help find the highly skilled talent your business needs and make the hiring process less stressful, less time consuming, and less costly. Our skilled professionals can identify, hire, and successfully onboard top talent. Our vast network keeps growing to provide the know-how and resources you need.

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