For any company, having a sound virtual onboarding process is key.
Think about it. Your employees are integral to your company, and having a strong, happy workforce is important for success. This all starts from day one – the moment they join your company.
Employees need to feel comfortable and supported throughout the entire process. This is not only important for their mental health and wellbeing, after all, starting any new job can be stressful, but also for their productivity.
The faster they can get to grips with what your company does and the different ways of working, the faster they can start contributing to wider company goals. An effective virtual onboarding process also helps them to feel part of the company culture, which is even more important when employees are working remotely.
It might be a while before they meet all their new colleagues in person, if at all, so it’s important there are still opportunities for them to build strong relationships.
With a lot of companies now adopting a working from home approach, having a virtual onboarding process is essential. Maybe your company already has a great onboarding process but it’s not suited for a virtual environment.
In this post, we explain how to devise your virtual onboarding process to help set employees up for success from the very start.
What Is the Challenge of Virtual Onboarding?
Virtual onboarding can be quite challenging compared to introducing new hires in person, as you’re not able to meet face-to-face. Establishing a connection is very important when employees join your company as they need to know who they can rely on for support.
Perhaps they have a question about how to log into the system, or about who they should talk to in another department. In a physical setting, they would be surrounded by their teammates who they could simply call over to and ask.
However, when they’re working remotely, it’s easy for them to feel isolated. They need to know that they can still reach out and ask for help, as and when it is needed.
Furthermore, online training can be particularly challenging as you need to make sure new hires are paying attention, and more importantly, understanding the content. You’re not physically there to ‘check up’ on them, so it’s important you utilise different features such as live chat and video call to create that open line of communication.
As you can see, there’s a lot to consider, so how do you devise a virtual onboarding programme that works?
5 Steps to Creating a Virtual Onboarding Programme
We’ve put together 5 important steps to follow when creating a virtual onboarding programme.
Use this as a checklist to ensure you’ve covered all necessary bases so that recruits can seamlessly transition into their role.
Consider Your Onboarding Schedule
When it comes to devising your onboarding schedule, the most important thing is not to overwhelm employees with information. In person, onboarding programs can quite easily be covered in a day, but when you’re going virtual, you need to consider keyboard fatigue.
And yes, that’s a real thing!
When employees are sitting in front of a computer for long periods of time, it’s easy for them to switch off. Therefore, consider spreading your onboarding schedule out over a few days as this will give you a chance to pencil in ‘catch up’ sessions to make sure they are retaining key pieces of information.
For example, who is the head of the IT department? Which distribution channels do the company use? What are the company’s core values? There can be a lot to take in, so having different sessions for a few days is a sensible solution.
You also need to consider how you’re going to deliver the content so that people will absorb it. With the iVent platform the decision is yours, as you can utilise video chat, networking groups, branded booths, webinars, presentations, and more. Alongside this, it’s important to work out who is going to be delivering the content.
Remember the focus is on keeping your new employees interested, so your speakers/ presenters need to be engaging. When you’re presenting remotely, there are various things you can do to facilitate this, such as keeping presentations short and using visual aids.
Keep Onboarding Interactive
You could also add a gaming element into your schedule to make it a bit more fun and interesting. For example, quiz new hires about the company and for every question they get right, they win a point and climb to the top of the leaderboard template. It’s a simple concept, but it adds a bit of healthy competition and also ensures employees pay attention as they know you’re going to be checking in.
When compiling content for your onboarding programme you also need to think of different ways you can make it interesting. Sure it would be easy enough just to show new employees PowerPoint after PowerPoint, but is that the best way of making sure they retain key pieces of information to thrive in their role?
When you go virtual, the options are endless in terms of what you can do. For example, as well as virtual presentations, you could also host live Q&A sessions with the heads of different departments, or create workshops where people can learn about your products/ services in more depth.
With the iVent platform, you can also create a fully branded virtual booth where you can showcase product demos. This enables new recruits to see your products in action and helps them learn key details and specifications.
Seeing how something works is one of the best ways of learning. And remember, by going virtual this content is available to access at any time. That’s the beauty of a virtual environment – the content is readily available at your fingertips.
Having the ability to fully customise your booth with your branding also helps new employees familiarise themselves with your brand and your company culture.
Over-communicate With Employees
Now, whilst we said it’s not a good idea to overwhelm employees, it is a good idea to over-communicate. Especially in the early stages when someone has just joined the company.
That’s because employees can often feel very vulnerable as they try to acclimatise to their new role. Usually, their manager would be able to drop by their desk to ask how they’re doing, but in the virtual space this isn’t an option.
That’s why it’s so important to make regular contact with them whether that’s setting up a video chat, or simply dropping them a message. Make sure you don’t just ask about work stuff, but also about them. For example, have they got any nice plans at the weekend or did they see a certain programme on TV. This introduces a social aspect and helps employees come out of their shells.
You should also encourage them to connect with other employees so that they can familiarise themselves with other departments in the company. With the iVent platform, this has never been easier.
You could create break out rooms where smaller groups of employees could get together. You could set new hires a task where they must discuss a topic for 5-10 minutes, perhaps about a new product the company could launch or a new market they haven’t yet tapped into. This boosts engagement and interaction and also helps new hires feel less pressure as they are speaking to a smaller group.
You could also take advantage of a multi-presenter view which allows various people to be on screen at the same time. This is perfect for a virtual ‘meet the team’ as it allows your new hire to meet their new teammates.
Assign a Buddy
One way of ensuring new employees don’t feel lonely when they first start, is to assign them a buddy. This gives them a designated person within the company that they know they can rely on for additional support.
This can be really beneficial and can prevent problems from occurring later down the line. Sometimes all people need is someone to talk to, whether that’s 10 minutes on a morning or before they log off at the end of the day. Again, in the virtual space, this is vital as when people are working remotely, they might not have any other sort of social interaction.
Therefore, two people could arrange to have a chat every morning which gives your new hire a chance to talk to their buddy about any problems or anxieties they might have for the day ahead. This could act like a virtual ‘coffee and catch up’ which makes the meeting feel a lot more relaxed and informal.
With the iVent platform, our Meeting Manager allows you to schedule meetings with complete ease. You can also send smart notifications if there are any updates or cancellations which keeps your new hire informed so they’re not waiting around.
Meeting Manager also works across various devices, so whether new employees are logging on at home from their desktop or using their mobile phone, they will never miss out on an opportunity to meet and connect with their buddy.
Aside from scheduled meetings, it’s also a good idea to inject some spontaneity into your virtual onboarding program! Meeting Manager makes this possible through the ‘instant meetings’ functionality. Therefore at random, existing employees can meet up with their new team members for a casual 1-to-1 catch up and get to know each other better.
Provide Technology ASAP
Before employees can do anything they need to get online. One of your biggest priorities when onboarding employees virtually is making sure they have the technology they need. You can’t rely on them having equipment at home.
Usually, employees would get everything they need when they come into the office, but when you’re onboarding remotely, it is your responsibility to ship the equipment to them. The sooner they get online, the sooner they can start the onboarding program.
It can also be quite daunting getting to grips with a bunch of new systems. Most modern-day companies rely on various systems, each with their , and each with their own set of complications! Therefore, it’s very useful to have resources available which explain how to set everything up.
At iVent, our 365 environment allows you to upload an unlimited number of tools and resources. This means you can freely attach ebooks, guides, templates, videos, and so much more, to help your employees get used to different ways of working.
The great thing about virtual events is that this content can be accessed at any time. Maybe an employee has forgotten how to do something and needs a refresher. Whatever the need, they will be able to access all of the information at their convenience.
Virtual Onboarding: Set Your Employees Up for Success From Day One
First impressions are important. From the moment a new employee joins your company they need to feel comfortable, supported, and engaged. This is not only important for their wellbeing, but also for the success of your company.
You want new employees to hit the ground running, and to be equipped with all of the information they need to excel in their role.
A company is only as good as its workforce, so investing in your employees from the get-go makes good business sense. You want to create a strong company culture, despite employees potentially working thousands of miles apart.
By devising a sound onboarding program, location will never be an issue. You can effectively introduce people to your company, integrate them into different teams, and provide all of the resources they could need to thrive.
And by partnering with iVent it’s never been more simple. From the planning phase through to execution, we can build a bespoke virtual environment that makes the onboarding process easy. Whether it’s introducing new hires to your company or bringing existing employees up to speed with new internal procedures, our online training environments can be tailored to meet the specific needs of each organisation.
To find out more about how we can benefit your business, get in touch with our team of experts.