The coronavirus pandemic has completely changed the way we operate. For many office workers, remote work is the new normal. And many businesses have completely altered their hiring plans, placing freezes on new roles and reducing budgets during the current economic crisis. But for some organizations, hiring more staff is essential during this time.
As virtual recruiting becomes part of the new normal, HR leaders are also being forced to adjust to a virtual onboarding process in lieu of the typical face-to-face meetings with direct managers and team members. This can present some challenges, but we’ve put together a few tips and best practices to help you onboard virtually and create a memorable first impression during these challenging times.
Make Virtual Onboarding Purposeful
Starting a new job during this time will be especially stressful, so don’t overwhelm your new hire with the typical list of activities to complete during the onboarding process. Instead, focus on clearly communicating the necessary information and tools he or she needs to hit the ground running. Discussing any newly created procedures and policies, especially navigating remote work will be important. Be transparent and acknowledge the challenges you may be facing, but also share your company’s vision, your values and how the new role fits within the organization.
Simplify Your Process For New Employees
Every new hire dreads the process of filling out pages of new hire paperwork. It’s just as time consuming for the individual tasked with inputting data into the payroll system. If you’ve relied on a manual onboarding process, you’ll likely find challenges capturing critical documents like new hire forms and tax information remotely. Now’s the time to strongly consider investing in onboarding software. With the right tool, new hires can complete all paperwork online, including filling out contact information and acknowledging tax forms, employee handbooks and other company policies. All information is then stored in one easily accessible place so you’ll never have to worry about paper files again. You can even create welcome message videos that introduce your company and personalize the onboarding experience for new hires.
Assign an Onboarding Mentor
Working remotely can be isolating for anyone, but especially for new hires who haven’t had a chance to establish relationships with co-workers or experience an engaging culture firsthand. Consider pairing your new hire with an established co-worker to help answer questions and provide support. Mentoring opportunities are not only beneficial for new hires, but they can help established employees develop their own leadership skills.
Schedule Frequent Check-Ins
A recent Enboarder survey found that 72% of employees identified one-on-one time with their manager as the most important part of the onboarding process. Encourage your managers to schedule daily video calls with new hires to discuss short-term and long-term goals, promote knowledge sharing and allow for questions. Connecting face-to-face creates more meaningful conversations and allows individuals the opportunity to open up and work and home challenges. Increased communication in these circumstances may seem like a no-brainer, but now is the time to lean in and ensure your managers are prioritizing one-on-one time and actively engaging new hires.
Invest in Workforce Training & Development
One common mistake many employers make is only focusing on the first few days or weeks of the onboarding experience. Onboarding is an ongoing process and should never end. The most successful organizations invest in their workforce by offering continuous learning opportunities to help employees grow and develop. Nothing sends the message “we’re investing in you” more than career paths augmented by specialized learning designed to give individuals the skills they need to make an attractive lateral move or to get to the next level. If employees feel like your company is investing in them for the long-term, the chances they’ll happily stick around increase exponentially
If you’re looking to take your onboarding program to the next level, consider the benefits of learning management systems (LMS). An LMS can allow you to deploy or create a wide range of courses, including ones on soft skills like interpersonal communication and collaboration. With many options on the market, look for an LMS that makes it easy to create custom programs. It should also offer a variety of formats—online, interactive, self-paced and in-person workshops—to accommodate diverse learning styles.