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Tips for onboarding employees in a virtual environment

Recruitment, onboarding, and training are critical procedures for any growing company. Hiring fresh talent and acclimatizing them to the company processes and culture is a monumental task in itself. With the rapid transition to remote working, the process of onboarding has become more important than ever. 

Traditional onboarding frameworks that included in-person meetings, training sessions, and lunches have been upended due to the coronavirus lockdown. Companies have been compelled to onboard their new employees completely virtually from thousands of miles away. 

Advanced technologies can enable you to adopt a virtual onboarding process without much overhauling. With a few tweaks to your current procedure to make it adaptable to a virtual environment, you can introduce, orient, and train all new employees. 

With no physical offices to conduct meetings, here’s how you can create a fruitful onboarding process for your remote hires. 


1. Prepare all guidelines, details, and written material beforehand

Communication is the key when virtually onboarding your employees. The lack of a physical connection can lead to many initial errors that can cost the employee as well as the employer in the long run. It is essential to ensure your new employees have everything they can possibly need to succeed in your organization. 

Each step in the onboarding process requires a ton of information from both ends – HR managers and employees. Before you schedule a call with the new hire, make sure all the documentation is in place. Your guidelines should be very detailed and spaced out over a few meetings. While working virtually, it is easy to miss out on minute points pertaining to the company culture and etiquette. Your onboarding documents need to contain all the little bits of information your employees can find helpful. 

Another aspect to consider is keeping all the stakeholders in the loop. Onboarding often involves multiple team leaders, managers, and HR professionals. This practice will help make everyone’s roles and inputs clear. 


2. Spread out the Onboarding Process over several days

Onboarding fresh talent can be a huge task involving multiple meetings, orientations, and training sessions. The labyrinthine process cannot be finished in a single day or meeting. 

New employees need sufficient time to read, understand, and digest the information being provided to them. Overloading them with details at one go might make them confused and beleaguered. 

By spreading out the process over multiple days, leaders can fit in multiple touchpoints and check-ins to make sure their new employees are coping up well with the organization’s systems. 


3. Help them connect with their colleagues 


In a physical office, new hires can expect to be welcomed by friendly faces eager to help them understand the nuances of the organization. They can make quick connections and feel a sense of ownership as they begin their new journeys. 

But in a virtual environment, it becomes near impossible to foster relationships between colleagues who do not know each other at all. This is where leaders can step in. 

A virtual meet and greet can be held to introduce the new employee to everyone. Moreover, some companies also assign a virtual mentor to guide the new hire. A virtual mentor can be anyone, a fellow worker, or a senior team leader. The mentor can check in multiple times in a week to ensure the employee gets accustomed to the company’s style of working. 

Another idea can be to assign a virtual buddy, someone of the same designation as the new hire. The virtual buddy can act as a friend and guide in the early days of the new employee. 


4. Create a Directory of Training Sessions

The most critical facet of the onboarding process is training. Every company employee goes through several days or weeks of training to get abreast of their roles and responsibilities. These sessions can include technical roundups, cultural fitting, as well as work-related expectations. 

Setting up a virtual training session is not that difficult if the right tools are used. Learning management software and video conferencing tools can help you create training modules that align with the company’s goals. These sessions can be pre-recorded or made available live, depending on the requirements. 

These platforms can help the managers track employees’ progress through tests and pitch in with help when required. Most platforms can host written as well as video material and can also be integrated with other third-party support apps. Add to this mix a cloud storage software, file-sharing software, and a video conferencing platform to create perfect virtual training sessions. 


Every company today has had to rethink its onboarding strategy in light of the pandemic. No organization can afford to lose out on quality hires due to a faulty onboarding process. Incorporating a personal touch while helping the employee acclimatize to a new work environment should be the primary motive of every virtual onboarding. 

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