4 Tips for Managing the Virtual Onboarding Process
4 Tips for Managing the Virtual Onboarding Process

4 Tips for Managing the Virtual Onboarding Process

Leadership Development, Hybrid Workforce   — 3 MIN


If you are involved in hiring potential candidates, you are well aware of the many moving parts involved in finding and onboarding quality employees. 

Once you get through recruiting, resume reviews, first-round interviews, group interviews, personality assessments, and offer letters, there is still an entire onboarding process to complete. Whew! When is that next vacation again?

As if human resource and hiring managers, department heads, and supervisors needed anything else to complicate matters, a global pandemic throws most organizations into work-from-home chaos, which has a side-effect of virtual hiring and onboarding chaos.

As a result, Gartner reports 82 percent of companies responding to their 2020 survey indicate they will continue to allow remote work in some form. Translation: virtual hiring is here to stay.

Develop a strong virtual onboarding plan

Kamal Thakarsey, VP of Employer Marketing for Handshake, tells us, “Virtual onboarding doesn’t have to be a pain.” He advises putting together a well-thought-out plan and remaining excited for virtual employees to join the company.

Thakarsey’s recommendations include the usual – stay on top of new hire documentation, check-in frequently, and set clear expectations. Although, there is a twist. All of this is done in a virtual forum. As such, new hire documentation should be managed digitally through services such as those offered by DocuSign.

Furthermore, he suggests establishing frequent check-ins in video form throughout the transition. Emailing the new hire daily to stay connected and feel part of the everyday flow of things is also essential.

The virtual onboarding plan should include a description of expectations. Precise definitions of what time of day to log in to the corporate network, video meeting etiquette, and where to find corporate resources are essential inclusions.

Using collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams, Google Suite, or Slack offers mechanisms to remain engaged and connected to other employees. Especially if company-wide, open forums are available for open discussion. For example, a channel for Mental Health and Wellness will serve as an outlet for people to speak openly about how they’ve been affected by the pandemic.

Tailor the checklist

In addition to a well-thought-out onboarding plan for virtual new hires, developing a remote worker onboarding checklist is an excellent idea.

At some time in your career, you may have been given a checklist of items you needed to complete or learn within your first thirty- to sixty-days in a new role. Lists such as these help keep new hires, managers, and others accountable and on-track to successfully shift into the organization.

When it comes to remote workers, the checklist becomes quite a bit different. After all, working in the office and working in the “home office” are two entirely different experiences.

Tailoring the virtual new hire checklist might include specific instructions about electronic signatures on critical documents such as tax and insurance forms and bank authorizations for direct deposit.

It will need to include specific assignments for meeting bosses, colleagues, and team members virtually. Video-based meet-and-greets, virtual office tours, or welcome videos that have the entire team are nice touches.

4 tips for virtual onboarding

Whether you have an existing onboarding plan for remote workers or not, you may find these tips to be beneficial:

1. Setup for success

Be sure to cover all the bases – 90-day start plan, mentor assignment, IT equipment, etc. Set clear expectations before the start date for what time the new employee should log into the corporate network and the best way for them to communicate with a team member.

Remember, it is the little things that count. Consider sending some company swag, so it arrives in time for their start date. You can never have enough coffee mugs or comfy socks.

2. Get connected

Remote employees, even those who aren't new to it, can sometimes feel a bit isolated. Starting with the HR or hiring manager, go the extra mile to get to know the employee personally. Building those relationships of trust facilitates a greater comfort level for virtual employees.

Follow these initial connections with introductions to the employee’s manager, mentor, work buddies, and team members. Each of these should also make concerted efforts to connect at personable levels.

3. Implement collaboration tools

If you aren’t already using collaboration software or apps, consider making one a core part of your company's communication infrastructure. Collaboration apps provide quick, straightforward ways for teams to work together and create gathering places for all employees.

Create channels that provide a safe and inclusive place for employees to talk about various aspects of work and life.

4. Refine the company culture

Whether it is weekly celebration meetings, virtual happy hours, or flexible work hours, begin to cultivate a culture more inclusive of virtual workers. 

Many site-based, team-building activities such as escape rooms have gone virtual. Events such as these build unity, keep employees engaged, and break up some monotony that can accompany remote employment.

Adapting to the need for virtual hiring and onboarding need not be troublesome. Having a solid onboarding plan, following these tips, and using an excellent new hire checklist will make it easier for everyone, including that great new remote employee.