Onboarding is critical to a new hire’s long-term integration with their team and their success as a productive employee. Companies with a carefully designed onboarding strategy enjoy better retention, engagement, and productivity rates.
Like many other business processes, onboarding has recently gone virtual during the pandemic. This can present additional challenges for businesses, but there are some key steps you can take to implement virtual onboarding seamlessly, and use these strategies to supplement and enhance your in-person onboarding methods following the end of Covid restrictions.
How To Create a Successful Virtual Onboarding Strategy
1) Create an Engaging Experience
One of the commonest complaints about onboarding is that the process is too rigid, boring, or theoretical. To retain talent, you want to put yourself in your employee’s shoes and think about ways of making the experience engaging and useful.
In other words, the first rule of virtual onboarding is prioritising the employee’s experience. A structured virtual onboarding system doesn’t have to be boring if it’s personalised and takes into account the skills and role of each new hire. Modular onboarding programmes, with a mixture of self-directed e-learning and live classroom elements, can make it easier to deliver a personalised experience, so long as you ensure each module is outcome-oriented.
2) Focus On The Company Culture
Modern organisations understand that creating a strong company culture requires the input of both managers and employees. A virtual onboarding process should help new hires familiarise themselves with the company’s ethos, mission, vision, and values, even if they’ve never physically set foot in the office. These aspects of corporate culture should be explained in a practical way, not merely as rules or abstract concepts. If the business culture resonates with your employees’ own values and mission, onboarding can generate a strong sense of commitment and loyalty that transfers to a greater sense of team purpose and improved staff retention.
3) Provide a Wide Range of Training Resources
Onboarding is a form of training, and as such, it must cater to different learning styles if you want it to be effective, especially in the absence of one to one physical supervision. Not all employees learn at the same pace, and some may be better attuned to certain forms of communication than others. For example, some people are visual learners, in which case your onboarding material should include a strong video element, whereas others learn by doing – which can be replicated through quizzes, tests, and interactive digital games and activities.
Interactive online tools and materials are very effective in virtual onboarding. In addition to live virtual training sessions, try to include recorded videos and webinars, and offer real-time support via professional communication channels like Slack or Microsoft teams.
4) Get All The Relevant People Involved
Employees rarely work in isolation, even when working remotely. Instead, they function in a collaborative team environment with a wide range of interpersonal relationships and interactions. This is why virtual onboarding should aim to make sure that new hires get to know their colleagues, managers and other people they will be interacting with right from the start.
The key is providing space for real-time interaction, instead of just getting them to memorise names or job titles. Person-to-person communication on a formal and informal basis can make new employees feel included and welcome, as well as improving team dynamics.
5) Assess and Adapt Your Process
Like other business processes, successful onboarding is an iterative process that needs to be relevant and up to date with current trends and circumstances. The recent health crisis has shown that work culture can change abruptly, which also affects onboarding processes. It’s useful to get feedback from employees who went through the full virtual process during the pandemic, so you can continue to make your virtual onboarding strategies more effective.
Virtual and Hybrid Onboarding Support
At Blue Octopus, we have wide-ranging experience designing and managing virtual and hybrid onboarding strategies for medium-sized and large companies. We provide comprehensive onboarding solutions, including microsites that can be integrated with our proprietary recruitment software or with your own applicant tracking system. Please get in touch today to find out more.