Although many businesses are 100% remote today, don't assume the onboarding process has to stop just because you're not working face-to-face. If you have an online-only business, you'll need to adapt your new hiring strategies, which will also mean updating your onboarding virtually.
Today, you'll learn everything you need to know about virtual onboarding, how to actually onboard remote employees, how to create an incredible onboarding program and how to retrain your team members when working from home. Within the next few minutes, you'll be a pro at nailing the virtual onboarding process, so let's get started!
What is virtual onboarding?
We're going to take things back a notch and break down everything you need to know about the virtual onboarding process. So, what is virtual onboarding exactly? Onboarding is everything that involves your new employee starting and settling into their new position at your company. It consists of a range of tasks you'll need to complete so your employee can learn policies and procedures about the company and get to know their team and the company culture well.
Although virtual onboarding might feel tricky for remote hires, it's the same process as face-to-face onboarding, but you'll need to adapt it to make your new employee feel part of the team instantly in an online environment.
Funnily enough, the onboarding process isn't well thought out by many companies, which is why it can be challenging to keep great staff members. We're here to help you make sure that doesn't happen to you, so you can create an excellent virtual onboarding program any new hire will find valuable.
First things first, get the job description right
I'm sure we've all seen plenty of terrible job descriptions that unfortunately forget to highlight why someone would want to work for you. You always want to make sure you put the company highlights at the forefront of any job advertisement.
Put your elevator pitch at the top of the job description to describe who the company is and why it's an excellent place to work. Mention who works there and where they've worked before to give your company (especially if you're a start-up) some context.
You'll want to talk about what skills you need to possess to work there, but more than anything, talk about the company's culture. Will the right person apply for the role otherwise?
And talk about yourself as their manager. What is your background? What do you love doing in your spare time, and what type of manager are you? These are all essential questions you need to answer in the job description to avoid wasting your or potential candidates' time.
Nail the recruitment and selection process
The recruitment and selection process is super important for anyone looking to hire top talent. Just because you want to attract the best employees in the industry doesn't mean they'll stay with you forever. Demand is high, and you need to make sure you can win over the best talent. Luckily because you're hiring remotely, you won't need to worry about hiring within a 30-mile radius. Instead, you'll be able to attract talent all over the US if you nail the recruitment and selection process.
Now we've talked about improving your job description; you need to make sure you post it on the types of sites you would hope a candidate would search on. Make sure you check out our complete guide for Perfecting the Recruitment and Selection Process.
Put yourself in their shoes
One of the easiest ways to create an excellent virtual onboarding process is by putting yourself in your new hire's shoes. If you're new to remote onboarding, ask your new hire what they would like to get out of their first week, month, three months, and more. Have the framework in place but tweak it for each new team member because they might not learn the same way as each other.
For example, some learners might prefer to read over documents; some might like to take part in interactive learning and answer quizzes or tests. And some learners might choose face-to-face video chat to gain a better understanding of the company. Make sure you include every aspect of training but constantly tailor it for each new hire.
Start comms straight away
As soon as you've found the right hire, make sure you start communicating with them straight away. It's incredible how many companies leave you hanging when you've accepted a job, and anxiety builds during the wait time until you start. Don't leave everything until their first day because it can be too overwhelming.
Instead, get the ball rolling straight away and send your new remote worker a welcome pack to let them know that you can't wait for them to start. The welcome pack includes any information they might like to read and get to know the company better before their first day.
Include their hardware preference and ensure you have all of the relevant apps, their company email address, and systems set up before they start. This will allow them to check out your company's comms channels, such as Slack, to gain a good understanding of what's going on in the business and what the culture is like before they start.
Share the onboarding schedule before they start
Make sure you map out a fantastic week ahead for your new hires so they won't be feeling flat or exhausted by the end of it. If you're stuck, use our free Onboarding Remote Employees template to get started. If you're happy with it, you can leave it as it is; alternatively, feel free to add your own slides or delete those that aren't relevant. Once you're done, the best thing you can do is share the schedule before they start so they can be fully prepared for what their first week will look like. There's nothing worse for a new hire to have no idea what the first day or week will look like, which could make them feel overwhelmed.
Put together the first week, first month, and six month plan
To make sure you're fully prepared for new hires joining the team, make sure you map out the first week, first month, and six-month plan with tasks and goals which will need to be completed. Share the projects in stages with your new hire to understand what is expected of them to drive motivation and passion for working for the company.
How to create an awesome virtual onboarding program
Don't send your new hires random documents or links to Google Docs, which will get lost in a sea of emails. Create structure and bring together all of the content you have into one concise course. Many businesses use a course builder like Coassemble to produce their programs, which helps keep the training and course material altogether.
After you've built out your program, decide how you're going to share your content the best way to reach your new employee. Will you send it to their email, Slack channel, Teams, or another app? When they've opened the training, you'll be able to track what they clicked on and how they interacted with it, which in turn will help you master the art of perfecting an excellent virtual onboarding program.
Don't be afraid to have fun with your remote onboarding content
An effective way to make your onboarding content shine is to include videos of various stakeholders around the business, introducing who they are and what their role involves. This will help your new employee become familiar with them before they meet on video chat rather than handing them an org chart to look over. It will also help your new hires understand the business as a whole and what the company culture looks like.
You can also make your onboarding content shine by incorporating interactive elements like a quiz to break up the learning time and test your new hires on what they've learned so far. By creating a fantastic modern onboarding program, you'll be showing your new hires that you're a forward-thinking business, and not a dinosaur from the Powerpoint print-out days.
Set up meet and greets
When your new remote employee has gone through your excellent virtual onboarding course, it's time to set up the meet and greets. During the new hire's first week, make sure you set up introductions with your team and other stakeholders around the business.
One thing to note is not to put in back-to-back meetings because you need to understand that your new hire will probably find it overwhelming and exhausting. Try giving a good 15 minutes before each session, followed by a few hours to digest everything they have learned. Remember, starting a new job isn't easy!
Explain the company culture in detail
How personalized is the company when it comes to nailing company culture? Do you send out snacks to your remote employees? Do you have any perks that your new employees need to be aware of, such as Friday afternoon drinks or wellness days etc?
Another way to enhance company culture is to set up a mentor for your new hires. This could help them progress and learn faster while up-skilling at the same time.
Don't under communicate
Many virtual onboarding programs don't work because the new hire only receives communication from their boss in the first week. Your remote onboarding process should continue for at least three months! This is one of the most underrated virtual onboarding best practices you should be mindful of and our article on implementing 30, 60, and 90-day onboarding plans might serve as inspiration.
Make sure you check in with your new team members and let them know that you're there to answer any of their concerns. You want to make sure they know you are here to help them, regardless of how busy you really are. Organize a weekly catch-up to check in with them to enhance the virtual onboarding experience for them.
Ask for feedback
Ask new hires for feedback because onboarding employees virtually can be tricky to know if you've got it right. If you use Coassemble to build your onboarding process, you'll be able to gain feedback from your new employees so you can perfect your onboarding training and make a virtual environment the best you possibly can. Team members will value you for consistently improving and updating your virtual onboarding best practices so you can build a strong foundation for your team.
You'll soon wonder why you hadn't used Coassemble for onboarding new employees before when you see your new team members settle so quickly so they can help build the business stronger.
More onboarding templates to choose from
You might also like to check out our free library of course templates to help you train onboard members anywhere in the world with online training. These templates also include onboarding plans and checklists for in-office employees.
Check out our most popular onboarding templates:
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