laptop with a virtual meeting taking place onscreen

Key factors to ensure a successful virtual onboarding experience for new employees

We recently held a discussion on LinkedIn via our company page and decided on the back of this to write a blog which we feel offers sound advice to employers recruiting new people into their organisation virtually.

The prospect of starting a new job can be daunting for some, but when someone doesn’t get the opportunity to meet potential new colleagues and managers as part of the recruitment process, it can feel unnatural and overwhelming. We are still amid a pandemic and many businesses are being forced to use virtual onboarding when someone starts with them. This can make the process more challenging, and therefore making sure your onboarding process is fit for purpose, and effective is a top priority. You may not even have an onboarding process in place, and this gives you the perfect opportunity to get your HR processes updated and intact!

We would suggest putting a virtual onboarding checklist in place for the onboarding process, so you can ensure you cover every aspect of it.

Here are some of our top virtual onboarding ideas to ensure your new employee feels confident and comfortable from the offset.

#1 – Be prepared

We have probably all turned up for the first day at a new job and discovered that the company is unprepared for our arrival. You have issues logging in, you don’t have a workstation, or you are left reading company documents for the best part of the day. This experience is off-putting, and it can even lead to recruits leaving the company as quickly as they started. As the employer, you must be prepared, especially when you are onboarding new starts in a virtual setting. Make sure they have a laptop and a proper workstation before their official start date. You should never expect someone to use their own computer for work purposes and if they do not have an adequate chair or desk etc, you should be willing to provide these. A gift box filled with stationery would also be a nice gesture! 

#2 – Introductions and buddy

The first week should be the time that your new employee settles into the company and takes the opportunity to get to know key people, start by sending an introduction email and setting up video calls with them. Make sure they have someone training them, someone who they can buddy up with during the first couple of weeks, or however long the training will take. It is also worth introducing an instant messaging service (if this is not in place) where colleagues can speak to each other whenever they wish. This is important when employees are working remotely, as they can feel isolated. Make them feel important and valued. You may even want to consider sending them lunch on their first day or a welcome present. These small gestures make a big difference to how a new employee will integrate and feel about their new employer.

#3 – Set expectations

When you work in an office, you get a feel for the culture of the company. This can be difficult to gauge when you work remotely. It is, therefore, important that you set expectations, so your new employee is not left wondering what is expected of them. For instance, if they start at 9am, do you expect them to be at their desk and ready to work before this? Do you have set times for lunch, or is it flexible? You may be the type of employer who has a set structure, or you may not be concerned about their working hours and if they achieve their daily targets. These are all aspects to consider and to communicate with your new employee. You can’t expect them to know what you expect if you don’t inform them. It is also a good idea to provide a company handbook and any other relevant information regarding policies and procedures.

#4 – Regular communication

As time goes on and the new employee settles in, you will not need to keep checking in, but this is vital during the onboarding process. Make sure you check in every day to ensure they are happy and to give them the opportunity to raise any concerns they may have. Of course, they will have a buddy and colleagues to speak to, but a manager check-in is also important. There is nothing worse for an employee than feeling that they are just being left to ‘sink or swim’. You have invested in the virtual recruitment process, so you should also invest in onboarding. We like Ryan’s take on this:

Over-communicate – don’t assume they know anything. Give them a view of what the first few weeks will look like. Manage expectations and help them get in their natural flow early with the team.” Ryan Cullen – Head of Employee Success (Amber Energy)

#5 – Schedule social breaks

One of the benefits of working in an office is being able to chat with colleagues and share stories and laughter, this can be difficult when everyone is working remotely. You can ease this by scheduling social breaks, and this is particularly important during the onboarding process. Weekly coffee mornings and/or a Friday night quiz will help ensure your new employee feels welcome and gives them a chance to get to know their colleagues on a social basis too.

If you are looking for a reputable recruitment agency in Cardiff, or you need some more virtual onboarding advice we’d love to help, you can contact us on 029 2048 4520 and we’ll be happy to arrange a virtual chat!