Virtual Onboarding

Virtual Onboarding: How to Create a Great New Hire Experience

The onboarding process sets the tone for a new employee’s experience with a business, welcoming the recruit to the team, acclimatising them to their role, setting expectations, and providing the resources they need to carry out their job. Effective onboarding and training have a huge influence on staff turnover, productivity, and happiness, and has a direct impact on long-term HR costs. Recruits who are successfully onboarded are more likely to be engaged in their role, work harder and more efficiently, have productive relationships with their colleagues, and stay with the company for longer.

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In the age of Covid, therefore, this creates a unique challenge for HR teams. With offices closed and social distancing in place, the entire recruitment and onboarding process has had to be moved online for a lot of companies. Some employees recruited in 2020 or 2021 may have never met their colleagues and managers in person outside of phone and video meetings.

What implications does this have for onboarding new talent, and for ensuring a complete and consistent training process is in place?

Why An Onboarding Process Needs To Be Created – Structure And Consistency

Successful onboarding depends on integrating a new recruit within a team, helping them feel at home, and encouraging them to engage with company culture. Failure to do so risks the employee becoming alienated and confused, resulting in despondency, loss of productivity, and low retention. In the absence of office tours, welcome drinks, training courses, and team building days that reinforce onboarding through informal social contact, a virtual onboarding system has to be far more systematic, structured and complete in scope.

Using a mixture of guided and independent learning, shared tasks, training videos, and reading material, the recruit is progressively enrolled into company culture and the expectations of their role. At the same time, care should be taken to emphasise the human aspects of enrolment, with scheduled meetings and phone calls throughout the onboarding process, and a specified contact to speak to if the recruit needs help. This is essential with virtual onboarding, to prevent the new employee becoming overwhelmed and unsure of who to turn to for support.

What To Include In Virtual Onboarding And The New Hire Experience:

  • Provide a diverse range of content – Enable the recruit to experience their new workplace from different angles by providing varied onboarding content. This helps sustain interest and excitement in the absence of direct contact, and helps immerse the recruit in the company culture and ethos.
  • Communicate clearly with new hires – In virtual onboarding, clear and consistent communication is essential, both in terms of the messages being given to new employees, and consistency within the content itself. Provide a clear feedback mechanism for new hires to ask questions about anything they are unsure of, and make lines of communication as transparent as possible.
  • Keep videos short and concise – Virtual onboarding means replacing face-to-face meetings with video content; for instance, to go through health and safety or shift management practices. Break this content into short video formats of 5 to 15 minutes each, to allow recruits to progress at their own speed while working remotely. Follow-up each section or training module with a phone call or virtual Q&A session.
  • Set up informal meetings – As well as formal virtual meetings with the new hires’ direct colleagues and line managers, lay the groundwork for social contact through virtual meet ups, check ins, and social events with the wider team.
  • Assign each new recruit with a buddy – Connect your new hires with an experienced employee who can act as a virtual buddy during onboarding. This should be someone who is thoroughly familiar and comfortable with the process and the systems used, but not someone who is directly involved in managing or recruiting the new hire – an example could be a supervisor or long-term employee from a parallel department.
  • Ensure all virtual channels are mobile-compatible – Performance-test your video content and collaboration platforms to ensure they are compatible with all mobile devices and operating systems, and perform well on all Internet connections.


How To Streamline The Process

Virtual onboarding has the potential to be confusing for recruits and complicated and time-consuming for HR. This can be avoided by automating the process as much as possible, an endeavour that can save time and money long-term. Many training videos, surveys, and other forms of content can be created to replace or supplement face-to-face contact; an investment that continues to deliver value with each reuse. Furthermore, by centralising your onboarding channels in a single portal, collaboration is enhanced between new hires and established staff, with all tasks automatically sent to the relevant people and teams, and keeping the whole process streamlined.

As experienced recruitment and onboarding software specialists, Blue Octopus can help you provide an excellent experience for new hires and increase productivity and staff retention. Get in touch today to find out more.

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Image source: Unsplash

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