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  • Employee Management

Virtual onboarding process, explained

Isadora De Angeli

With much of the world transitioning to a permanent online workflow, it's become more important than ever for employers to adapt to a virtual world. The virtual onboarding process is often the most difficult (yet crucial) part.

Employers, employees, and HR managers alike are struggling with this adaptation. When the face-to-face onboarding experience is no longer possible, you need to keep up if you want to hire (and keep) great talent. 

We're here to offer some advice. Keep reading to learn all about why virtual onboarding matters and how to make it work for you.

The importance (and challenges) of successfully onboarding new employees

Due to COVID-19 and an increasingly global world, work has moved online. Many employees work from home, and this means that you (as an employer) need to find ways to make this benefit you.

6.1% of all employed people moved jobs in the first half of 2021. Many of them switched industries entirely. This is partially due to worldwide hiring freezes and furloughs, but also due to people finding that their former career paths were no longer fulfilling them. 

A good onboarding process is key when it comes to an employee's success in your business, but moving that process to a virtual call comes with challenges.

You no longer have the opportunity to build "real-life" relationships, but you gain the benefit of flexible work and access to helpful technology. It's an exchange.

Here are a few ways that you can modify your onboarding process to make sure your future employees succeed.

Prepare and organize 

As with anything in the world of employment, preparation is crucial! You want your new hires to be comfortable and ready to take on the job. 

Before you start a successful onboarding, make sure that you already have any necessary devices on their way to the employee, you've scripted any necessary introductory statements, and you've made a list of all important passwords and websites that they need access to. 

Keep in mind that your employee might also be adjusting to an online workplace for the first time! Make them feel welcome and comfortable.

Adapt to a virtual world

You shouldn't try to mimic your "real-life" onboarding experience. Instead, adapt and change for the new world.

Create a virtual learning environment for your new hires. You can include video welcoming cards from other team members, a list of tips and tricks, and even examples of virtual team-building activities that you've already used. 

If you want to build good relationships, consider virtual happy hours for the first day of onboarding. 

The importance of branding

Your employees will start determining whether or not they want to stay at your workplace from day one. They'll evaluate your company culture, what it feels like to be part of the team, and the overall virtual environment that you offer to employees who work from home. 

Make sure that you emphasize your company's culture and values. You want your employee to feel safe and confident about their decision to join your team. They'll be more productive and more likely to stick around for the foreseeable future. 

Set Clear Expectations

When you onboard new employees, make sure you're clear about what you expect from them. It's hard without the benefit of having other employees nearby, in a physical office, to remember all of the rules, regulations, and tasks that someone needs to do.

Employees will benefit from a clear onboarding process. They want direction, and they'll feel more comfortable if they're given a clear roadmap for success. Never assume that they know things in advance. 

From the perspective of an employer, HR professional, or even line manager, it's hard to remember what it was like to be a new hire. Put yourself in their shoes and remember that they have the added challenge of working online. 

Be Flexible

Remember, this process isn't just new for you. Even if your new virtual team member has worked remotely in the past, they haven't worked with your business.

It may take several virtual meetings to help an employee solidify their spot in your workplace. By spreading your remote onboarding process out in that way, you allow your employee to absorb information and prepare themselves for their new career.

Flexibility also allows you to change course if you realize that something isn't working. As you adjust, you'll learn that you may need to be more hands-on than you expected, or that employees have a steeper learning curve than you prepared for.

Focus on communication

Communication is hard when you aren't in a physical office space. Because of that, you need to use collaborative tools, video conferencing, and online team-building activities to encourage employees to function as a real team. 

While remote working is effective, you lose that connection that you get from working alongside others within an office.

Make sure that you try to build and maintain relationships with your employees and encourage them to build relationships with each other. Also, make sure that you have a collaborative and friendly environment so all new hires feel welcome. 

On the topic of communication, it works both ways. You should encourage your employees (both new hires and established employees) to provide feedback. Consider an anonymous online survey or even a focus group.

This lets you see where you need to make adjustments and what you should pride yourself on. 


Perfect Your Virtual Onboarding Process

A good virtual onboarding process will make your new employees feel comfortable and set them up for success in their new careers. As we shift to a more virtual world, it doesn't mean that your employees have to struggle.

Starting a new role is always challenging, even in "real life" offices. Make sure that you create a positive experience to ease the transition.

Virtual HR systems like kiwiHR can help you provide a fantastic onboarding experience to all of your new hires. Integrate your employees, both old and new, into your online work environment with ease.

If you're interested in trying kiwiHR out for yourself, sign up for a 14-day free trial. We know that you'll love it.

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