While life is starting to return to normal and businesses have begun to resume regular operations, many workplaces are remaining virtual for the foreseeable future. Working from home has been an adjustment for most companies, especially when it comes to hiring and onboarding new employees. And while this might seem like a lot for any business to handle, it can be equally overwhelming for the new hires. Here are some tips for virtual onboarding to help make new team members feel welcome while working remotely.
Let them meet the whole team early
Before the pandemic, most small and mid-sized companies did not take the time to introduce potential new hires to the whole team. However, with everyone working from home, it may be hard to get a sense of how the prospect fits into the larger team. Companies should set aside some time during the interview process to let top new hire candidates meet some of the other staff. This is an opportunity to let the potential new hire decide if they feel like they could be a part of the team, as well as allow the team to decide if the interviewee will be a good fit for the company.
Create a schedule before they start
The worst thing a company can do is start a new hire virtually without any type of preparation. Employee onboarding should include a full schedule for the first two days, possibly the first full week, filled with trainings and time to set things up, meet with the team and get comfortable with the office software. The new hire should be given tasks during their first few weeks that do not overwhelm them but make them feel like they are learning everything they need to know and contributing to the team.
Host virtual ice breakers
While they may have met the team during their interview, new hires may still feel out of the loop. They may be coming from a work environment where they were with the same group of people for many years. Even before the pandemic, it could be hard for any new employee to get accustomed to working with new people. Now, adding the work-from-home aspect on top of that, things get a lot harder. There are no in-person conferences, or lunch with co-workers, or quick breaks or times passing in the hall to stop and talk to get to know each other.
Some employees may have grown tired of the virtual happy hours, ice breakers and other pandemic-friendly events at this point, but that does not mean that they should stop altogether, especially when onboarding new employees. There are easy things to do to have everyone talk and learn more about each other that do not require much time or effort. The new employee may even have some ideas to help break the ice.
There are small things that new employees may overlook or miss out on while working from home. Adjusting to small admin things, such as where files are saved, how to address emails, or anything else, is something that is discussed naturally when a new hire starts working in office. However, this, along with some other information about normal office processes, might get lost in the mix. Everyone may assume that the worker was already given this information from someone else, or that they already know it. That is why, when a new hire starts, it is important to not skip over the basics, no matter how simple it may seem. And, if the employee makes a simple mistake, let them know what the normal process should be moving forward. Even though they are new, they want to know everything and get adjusted to office procedures as soon as possible. Employers should do their best to let the new employee know that their “office door” is always open even if they are not in the physical office.
It may seem simple, but every effort made is a step toward making new employees feel welcome and acclimated to their new job. These efforts also help to make the new employee feel appreciated right away. Getting employees acclimated quickly will also help to boost productivity and get them ready to handle the real work quickly. To continue improving the virtual hiring and onboarding process, businesses should ask their newest employees what they liked and did not like about their experience.
Hiring and onboarding virtually does not have to be a daunting task for both the business and the new employee. Being prepared and having open communication will lead to a productive virtual business and happy virtual employees.