Virtual Onboarding Challenges & How You Can Overcome Them

Integrating a new hire into an established team can be daunting for the new employee and his or her colleagues and managers. A good onboarding process will make recruits feel welcome, support them to establish and build productive relationships with colleagues, and ensure they have the tools and knowledge to perform their duties well, in as short a period as possible. In contrast, a poor onboarding experience can be disastrous: research suggests that one-fifth of new starters leave their position in little more than a month if not properly inducted into an organisation.

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Overcoming The Challenge Of Virtual Onboarding

The popularity of remote working and flexible working patterns, fuelled by cloud-based collaboration software and the global pandemic, has made virtual onboarding more common than ever. Getting to know a recruit before meeting them face to face can be challenging, not least because virtual onboarding is unfamiliar to many new employees, and some people feel inhibited communicating over video link. However, there are several practical steps you can take to close the geographical divide and support them to become a valued member of your team.

1) Send A Welcome Package.

A good onboarding process doesn’t necessarily commence on the first day of the recruit’s employment at the physical office. Many new starters experience anxiety long before their contract starts, and it can also be difficult to find time to induct them with colleagues on day one of their job. Sending a welcome package in advance, that is carefully designed to reflect the business’s culture, provides the recruit with reassurance that they are part of a valued team.

There are no hard-and-fast rules about what to include in a welcome package, but it could include:

  • Everyday essentials, such as a lanyard, coffee cup, or sticky notes.
  • Items to convey the company culture, including a guide to business language, branded stationery, or the staff handbook.
  • Key information, such as log-in details, schedules for the first week, and an office map with the names of co-workers.
  • A personalised welcome message, some snacks, or a discount card for a local café or store.

2) Take The Time To Find Out About Them.

Onboarding is more difficult when you don’t know the recruit before they commence their role, so sending a survey in advance can be a simple yet effective way to find out more about them

The survey doesn’t need to be solely focused on work – you will have learned about your new starter’s skills and work ethic during the recruitment process – so now is the time to find out about them as a person, away from the office. From their family and life experiences to hobbies and pastimes, there are many areas of interest to explore. If the new employee is to work from home, you could find out about any support they need to achieve optimum productivity away from the office.

3) Avoid Information Overload!

Bombarding your new colleague with information can be counterproductive during the onboarding process, as there’s a limit to how much the brain can absorb and understand before people start to feel anxious and overwhelmed.

To avoid the process becoming too onerous and intense for good information retention:

  • Break up the first days into a mixture of self-paced presentations, reading material, and webinars, video meetings, one to one activities, and icebreakers.
  • Allow time for the employee to spend time with colleagues virtually, ask questions, and develop their own lines of enquiry.
  • Promote a collaborative approach to onboarding, with existing staff involved and a named buddy for each new starter.
  • Ensure the line manager has regular opportunities to check-in with new staff.

Contact Blue Octopus To Improve Your Onboarding Process

At Blue Octopus, our free ‘Virtual Onboarding Guide’ provides some invaluable tips for smoothly inducting new staff into your business. For more information, download the guide or call us on 08456 711189.

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