The COVID-19 pandemic has turned our world upside down with incredible speed. Nearly four months ago, offices globally were forced to shut down and work remotely. Some were prepared to do so, others faced hurriedly getting practices and procedures into place in order to make it through the short-term. As companies prepare for the long-term realities of remote work, many are having to find ways to create an effective virtual employee onboarding experience.
When you begin to grow and you’re faced within hiring help, how do you create an experience that is as great as the parallel to the in-person onboarding process you had in place? It takes good planning and an eye for creating “wow moments” to properly onboard a new employee and make them feel welcomed and settled in their new role – especially during times of uncertainty.
Kin has always been a huge proponent of a great onboarding experience. Studies show that employee onboarding is directly connected with how productive an employee will be during their tenure and how long they will stay. In fact, a recent study by Glassdoor reports that a great onboarding procedure can make a new hire retention rate improve by 82% and employee productivity rise by 70%.
Ready to reap the benefits of an excellent virtual employee onboarding experience? Let’s walk through a few things you can put into practice starting today.
Send paperwork ahead of time
“If you want new hires to “hit the ground running”, it’s important to reduce “first day” stress even before they start work to get new hires fully engaged with the company,” Dr. John Sullivan, an HR consultant in Silicon Valley, wrote in a LinkedIn article about creating “wow” moments throughout the first few weeks of a new employee’s tenure.
One thing that can cause that first day stress is paperwork. If you live in a state that allows it, get onboarding paperwork out of the way prior to the new employee’s first day. This lets you take care of the actual person and not the paperwork when they begin their journey with you.
You’ll want to not only include digital paperwork, but also a note from their manager walking them through what to expect on their first day.
Of course, spend the first few minutes of that first day with the new hire reviewing all paperwork to ensure they’re good to go. Then, quickly move onto the best part: transitioning them into a full-fledged team member!
Have their calendar ready to go as a blueprint
Typically when a person starts in an office, they’re shuffled from meeting to meeting to learn the ins and outs of their job.. Remotely, we don’t have the same exact luxury but we do have Google Calendars (or any calendar app of your choice) to guide the way.
Before the new employee begins, get with everyone who is responsible for a portion of their training. Together, create a schedule that guides the new employee through each training session and gives them room to breathe in between. When they open up their calendar on the first day, they’ll be able to see their agenda for the next week or so, reducing any stress around unclear expectations.
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Make sure they have the equipment they need to do their job
One way to make sure a remote employee is comfortable is to have everything they need to do their job well – including time to set up their work station.
Send out their computer and any other equipment necessary a week prior to their start date. This should have it arriving no later than 2-3 days before they begin, giving them plenty of time to set up in their workspace and take the computer for a quick spin.
Send a gift
During the interview process, you likely learned a few things about your candidates personally. Maybe your new hire loves dogs or can’t get enough of Thai food.
By sending a small personalized gift prior to the first day, you’ll make them feel heard and valued.
Perhaps for the dog lover, you could donate to a rescue local to them in their name and let them know, or if they love a certain restaurant, you could grab them a gift card for take-out.
Whatever you send, it’ll make your new employee feel cared for and welcomed. That’s an excellent way to feel walking into a new job during a time when life may feel a bit uneasy otherwise.
Have your team flood their new inbox with welcome emails
Nothing is colder than opening up your inbox to a half dozen automated emails from new software accounts.
Flip the script next time and flood their inboxes with messages from their future co-workers. Let your team know the goal is to make the new hire feel welcomed and get to know them before they meet one-on-one. Team members can include pictures of themselves, their pets or their families, or a favorite team memory and why that’s so important to them.
It’ll automatically make the new person feel like they know everyone a little bit, making them more comfortable from day one.
Create a virtual event to get the team together
A great way to make people feel welcomed is by taking them out to lunch on their first day. It gives you a break from the office and lets you get to know one another on a more personal basis. But, in the world of COVID-19, that’s likely not a practical option.
Instead, you could host a virtual coffee hour, cocktail hour or lunch in their honor where your team can get together, cameras on, and just chat about life. It’ll allow your new employee to let their guard down and just be themselves. And, it’ll give your team an excuse to get together and let off some steam.
If that’s not really your thing, consider trying out one of these 16 virtual team-building exercises by Time Doctor, including a virtual jigsaw puzzle, peeks into each others’ homes or building a story line together.
What are some ways that you make your new team members feel welcomed when you can’t be together physically?