Last week we shared with you four tips for virtual interviews, both for candidates hoping to land the job and interviewers with the hiring power. Congratulations! You’ve found the perfect candidate for the open position, had a successful virtual interview, and they’ve accepted your offer. Now, let’s look at six strategies you and your team can implement to make the virtual onboarding process seamless and efficient for the new hire:
1. Give a warm welcome.
One of the biggest challenges of starting a new job in a pandemic is the fact that the entire onboarding process is virtual for a lot of companies. This means new hires are at a disadvantage when it comes to feeling like a part of the team. Make sure you’re still welcoming these people somehow, even if it’s not the traditional way your company would normally welcome a new hire.
Debra Schwartzfarb, a veteran human resources professional and former vice president, executive recruitment for Kirk Palmer Associates, suggests sending a welcome package. “It could be swag from the company,” Schwartzfarb said. “It could be [related to] something you learned about that person in the interview, which is more personalized.” Schwartzfarb explained that the most important thing is that the welcome gift makes a new hire feel a part of the team, even in their home office.
Another way to welcome a new hire is to make sure the whole team introduces themselves. Kristy Knupp, senior director, recruiting, Chico’s FAS, shared that pre-pandemic, when employees were still in the office, her team would decorate a new hire’s desk space with signs and cards. She’s adapted that strategy to make sense for virtual onboarding as well.
“Now, we use a Microsoft form,” Knupp explained. “This was a new way to help welcome and celebrate our new team member in a virtual way.”
Finally, just because you can’t share coffee and donuts together doesn’t mean you can’t have a “welcome breakfast” virtually.
“One of my favorite examples was one of our brands hosting a welcome breakfast for a new employee, and sending everyone a credit to order their meal on us,” Athena Christodoulides, global talent management lead, Esteé Lauder, said.
2. Set up all meetings.
Another way to make virtual onboarding seamless for a new hire is to set up all of their important meetings for them prior to their start day, no matter if they’re C-suite or entry level. “Don’t leave them to their own devices to reach out to people they’ve never met on email to try to get a meeting,” explained Schwartzfarb. “It’s bad enough when you’re in person and you’re knocking on [people’s office doors], but when you’re remote, what a nightmare. Somebody needs to be put in charge of each person’s onboarding process and make sure that the burden is off the new employee to try to get meetings with people.”
3. Start slow.
You want to make sure you’re not overwhelming the new hire with too much information all at once. This is important for all onboarding, but especially virtually when the employee is less connected.
“Everything in the first two days [leaders] expect [employees] to retain with no context,” Schwartzfarb shared. “They’re left with this notebook full of scribble that they don’t even understand at the time.” Instead, she suggests giving new team members important information in small bites and following up frequently. “Make sure there’s a safety net or some way to not just abandon somebody,” advised Schwartzfarb.
4. Get ahead of any problems.
There are going to be challenges with virtually onboarding, such as Wi-Fi connectivity issues, juggling your kid’s remote learning, or dealing with noisy neighbors. Having open communication across your team, especially with a new hire, can help reduce the impact of those challenges.
“Ask people what their specific issues are and how they like to communicate,” Schwartzfarb said. “Expectations don’t cross, so if you know that I have a commitment every morning from 8:00-8:30, and you email me and I don’t answer you right away, you’re not thinking that I’m not on it.”
5. Don’t forget team bonding.
Although we’re all Zoom fatigued at this point and may not want to attend another virtual team happy hour, getting to know team members is crucial in helping a new hire feel connected. Get creative with your team bonding to keep it fresh and fun.
“Last summer, our team had their favorite lemonade and iced tea during a virtual get-together the last half-hour of our first summer Friday,” Knupp shared. “It was a fun way to kick-off our summer Fridays and have casual time with your peers and your team.”
6. Provide training.
Working remotely is a new concept for many professionals. If possible, share as many training materials and resources with your new team members as possible to set them up for success.
“Our learning and development team is great, and we have a whole section on our intranet dedicated to remote work,” noted Knupp. “There’s a great variety of resources to support leaders and associates working remote.”
While the trainings aren’t required, Knupp explained that having a resource library of information empowers team members who are having trouble with a specific part of working from home, such as virtual meeting etiquette.
Esteé Lauder provides resources for remote employees on productivity, but also mindfulness.
“Our company and our leaders have always stressed that while it’s important to be productive, it’s also important to take a break and a breather,” Christodoulides said. “From care packages to group yoga sessions to days off, the organization has truly enabled productivity through wellness, and not just training.”
What tips do you have for a successful virtual onboarding experience? Let me know at email@example.com.