January 21, 2021
Strategies for Onboarding in a Virtual Environment
Virtual work trends were on the rise even before the Coronavirus outbreak last year. Many employers, however, have been reluctant to offer remote work for a number of reasons—technology setup, company culture, employee morale and management structure to name a few. When the pandemic hit last year, employers were forced to shift gears if they wanted to keep their businesses operating and many transitioned their workforce to work from home almost overnight. The unexpected change left organizations without a plan in place and no time to prepare.
As businesses got back on their feet, many were able to start hiring which meant they had to figure out how to onboard new employees in a virtual environment. Onboarding helps your new hire get familiar with your nonprofit and provides the tools and training they need to start working towards making an impact on the company’s mission. The only difference between in-person onboarding and virtual onboarding is that it’s done mainly through video and email—the goal is still the same.
In a normal environment, the process is often long and tedious—more so when done virtually. There is equipment to ship, software to install, documents to be signed, materials to provide, the list goes on and on. Here are some ways to instantly improve your virtual onboarding strategy:
- New Hire Paperwork. Consider using an e-signature tool so new employees can view, edit, and sign the various documents necessary to onboard someone such as tax documents, employment contracts, and direct deposit forms.
- Work Equipment. Ship any necessary technology (laptop, keyboard, mouse, monitor, headset, etc.) ahead of time to ensure the employee is set up and ready to go on their first day. Make sure to have any company-specific software installed beforehand and provide setup and login instructions at the same time.
- The Onboarding Packet. Create a detailed onboarding plan suited for the role that includes: a timeline with specific performance goals for the first 30, 60, or 90 days of employment, a checklist of tasks to be completed such as setting up voice mail and reviewing the company website, a company overview with your vision and mission statements, organizational charts, and details on information technology.
- Training and Development. Provide a list of “self-study” tasks that include online assessments, essential articles, training documents, competitors’ information and eLearning opportunities. It’s also beneficial to allow employees to take advantage of a variety of training topics, not just those that are required.
- Documentation and Procedures. It’s critical to the success of your new employee to have written documentation of job-specific procedures. This will help eliminate time wasted trying to figure out a process or waiting for someone to assist.
- Internal Announcements. Inform your current team of the new hire by sending a new employee announcement and copy the new hire so they can see any welcome messages from the team. This is also a good time to add them to any relevant communication channels such as Microsoft Teams or Slack.
- Welcome Package. You have one shot to make a good first impression. Send a Welcome Kit that includes some company swag, a welcome letter, a gift card for coffee and a personal invite to a virtual lunch with the team—this is a great way to get everyone familiar with each other.
- Introductions. Schedule some video introductions and have current employees go around and briefly explain what they do. You can also have everyone share a fun fact about themselves or craft a few starter questions to get break the ice. Make sure you include any other leaders the employee might work with so they too can put a face to a name.
- A Work Buddy. Working remotely can be isolating, assigning a go-to person who can guide the new team member through their first few weeks or months can help to make the transition easier. A welcome buddy can answer questions, share insights, and provide tips while helping the new hire settle in.
- The Social Side of Onboarding. Have your managers come up with creative ways to connect their team. Things such as challenging employees with trivia questions on a business communication platform like Slack, scheduling virtual team building activities or luncheons to celebrate work anniversaries or birthdays can bring the team together on a personal level.
Virtual onboarding might seem daunting challenging at first, but with thoughtful consideration and a solid plan in place, you can create a successful onboarding plan that guarantees a positive outcome for both the organization and the employee.