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Top tips for managers to virtually onboard new hires

An effective onboarding process can improve a company’s brand in the market and the overall candidate experience. A study by Talentlyft found that approximately 20% of employee turnover happens within the first 45 days and research conducted by our parent company Allegis Group found that a quality onboarding experience can help speed up time to productivity. The first few weeks of employment are critically important when hiring and the cost of attrition can be high, so planning and executing an effective onboarding process should be an integral part of the recruitment strategy for any company. It could also positively contribute towards an increase in employee engagement, productivity and retention in the long run.

The recent global pandemic has forced organisations to pivot quickly and digitise their entire onboarding process so we have complied a list of important factors companies might want to consider as they look to onboard new employee(s) virtually.

  • Communication

Communication is key in any onboarding process; however, it plays an even more significant role when virtually onboarding talent. Companies should ensure there is regular and consistent communication with the new hire and where possible, communicate over video call to emulate in-person meetings and help quickly establish a relationship. It may also help to provide the new hire with a detailed outline of the onboarding schedule ahead of their start date to help manage their expectations and reduce any apprehensions or uncertainty they may have before joining the team,

  • Preparation for day one

Before the new hire joins the team, appoint a colleague as a main point of contact to help answer any questions they may have before they start. Preparing a welcome pack that details what the first day/week will look like, including how to set up their equipment, useful contact details and other general information. Starting a new role can be a daunting experience under any circumstances, so preparing well can not only alleviate nerves and worries but also save valuable time for employers once the new hire has started.

  • Connection to company culture

The onboarding process is an opportunity to immerse the new hire in the company’s culture and values. In a Forbes article on employee engagement, Brett Gleeson suggests that employees who believe in the company culture, have shared values and work well with managers and teammates demonstrated high job performance and were more likely to stay with the company. As such, communicating culture and values at the beginning of the onboarding cycle, starting with the interview process can help bring the candidate on a journey and to forge a connection and alignment between both parties that could positively impact their performance and overall loyalty. This is harder to do virtually but by sharing links to company websites, social channels and by good old-fashioned conversations with teammates it can be possible to share aspects of a company’s culture without physically being in the office.

  • Virtual Introductions

Making someone feel welcome in a new role and integrated quickly is key, especially when they may not be in the office to meet with their team. Simple tokens such as a handwritten card welcoming the new hire to the team or inviting them to any virtual team building activities or companywide networking events can help. It’s also worth communicating with the wider team to let them know about the new hire along with a copy of their onboarding schedule for team visibility and training support. The inclusion of a short biography and photo of the new hire in the email can also be a nice touch too!

  • Setting up your new hire

For any new hire who will be onboarded and asked to work virtually, consider creating a ‘working virtually’ information pack to share with the employee before they start. This may include helpful information such as, setting up their virtual workspace, tips on managing well-being at home, working virtually dress code (if applicable) and who to reach out to for support and any other key information required so they can feel supported and set up for success.

Ensure that the new employee’s email address is set up prior to joining and that they have working access to all systems, tools and applications needed to complete their work. It is also important that they know who to contact with any questions they may have regarding using any applications or troubleshooting. The new hire should also be added to any groups on platforms used by the company to communicate and stay in contact (audio and visual) so they can connect with their team. 

  • Planning for 30, 60 and 90 days

With the first few weeks and months so critical to the success of a new hire, creating a 30, 60 and 90 day plan that details what the new hire needs to achieve at each milestone can be very effective. Having a shared and collaborative team approach to its completion can also support during the onboarding process.

This plan and its milestone can be used as an opportunity for learning and development and to help the new hire to structure their day to day activities as well as to help them understand what they need to achieve to be successful.

Many employers have now had a few weeks (even months) to adjust to what has become known as the ‘new normal’ of work and digital adoption has been at the heart of this; for many companies this has created opportunities to streamline and improve processes and prime their business to thrive in a post-pandemic world. In the case of recruitment onboarding, an opportunity has been presented to improve, the candidate experience and identify new virtual ways of working.

Whether your new employee is starting in the office or working remotely, it is worth investing the time and effort up front on the onboarding process and doing so can help to yield productivity, loyalty and engagement in the long run and save on the considerable costs incurred following attrition.