Read this Ebook to learn how to retain remote employees with better onboarding.
You want to make new hires feel they're part of the team from day one. But what does that look like when everyone’s working from home? Time zones, different abilities with technology, clashing schedules — onboarding new employees virtually can be challenging.
A solid virtual employee onboarding plan ensures a workflow covering all the basics, from setting up equipment to getting new hires acquainted with the company culture.
We spoke with Laure Saintpierre, Employee Experience Team Lead at Livestorm, to get her insights on how to make virtual onboarding a success. By the end of this article, you’ll have a checklist for creative ways to onboard new employees virtually.
Find out how to source remote talent and onboard remotely to reduce employee churn.
The goal of employee or intern onboarding is to get new hires up to speed with company culture, values, and processes quickly and efficiently - even when they don’t live and work in the same place.
Typically, onboarding new employees remotely involves video conferencing software, productivity tools, and emails. But everyone has different learning styles and backgrounds.
"Since we onboard people everywhere and in different time zones, we wanted to create an onboarding process that applies to everyone no matter their position or location," says Laure, "Of course, it has to be balanced: some people have specific needs and, in those cases, we adapt our onboarding."
According to Laure, there are four phases of employee onboarding:
Efficiency, reach, and cost-effectiveness are the key benefits of virtual onboarding. But they're not the only ones.
Since you don’t need to share a physical office with your colleagues, you can hire from a global talent pool. And a good virtual onboarding means you can get new hires aligned on company processes and values without organizing any unnecessary travel.
Fitting a full day of onboarding into a new employee's schedule can be difficult. And with different time zones, it may not even be possible. Virtual onboarding resources like video tutorials, on-demand webinars, and digital manuals are easy to share online, allowing you to stagger the employee onboarding process so that new hires just get the information they need, when they need it.
From setting up email accounts to adding employees to company chat groups, many onboarding steps are repetitive and time-consuming. Virtual onboarding templates and automations can help you streamline the process and save time for more important tasks. For example, you can create an email template to automatically send new employees their login information for company systems.
No more sitting through hours of presentations about company policies, benefits, and safety procedures. With virtual employee onboarding, you can provide this information in an engaging and interactive way.
For example, you can create a simple video game that simulates a work environment and teaches employees about company policies. Or you can create an online quiz that test's their knowledge of safety procedures. Not only is this more efficient, but it also leads to better outcomes.
Find out how to source remote talent and onboard remotely to reduce employee churn.
Despite the many benefits, there are some challenges you should be aware of when implementing virtual employee onboarding:
Feelings disconnected or isolated is common among remote workers. And this can be emphasized by a poor onboarding process at a time when they're already feeling like outsiders.
Try including some personal touches in your virtual onboarding process. For example, send a welcome video from the CEO or have a team member reach out over video chat to introduce themselves.
Informal social interaction and relationship building are important parts of the employee onboarding process. But they're also one of the hardest things to replicate virtually.
We'll cover more engaging and creative ways to onboard new employees virtually below, but one way to simulate water cooler chats is to create a weekly virtual coffee break where employees can join a video chat and catch up with their colleagues.
“Bring more human aspects into the onboarding process,” recommends Laure. You can also give new employees a “buddy” who acts as their first point of contact for queries and advice.
"We use Livestorm for live meetings, such as meeting new team members, 1:1s with your manager or buddy, meeting with your stakeholders, and more. Everything's live, so it feels more personal and human, even if we’re not in the same room," says Laure.
Some companies require that all new employees have a laptop or desktop computer. Others will provide the equipment for them. In either case, you'll need to consider this when onboarding new team members virtually.
If you require that all new employees have a laptop or desktop computer, you should provide guidance on what type of system they need and where they can purchase it. You should also consider providing a stipend to cover the cost of the equipment.
Virtual onboarding has no room for spontaneous improvisations. Every step of the process should be carefully planned and executed to ensure a smooth transition for new employees. Here's a look at some best virtual onboarding practices to keep in mind.
Virtual employee onboarding relies heavily on the right tools. As you start building your process, take some time to research the best options for your needs.
Here are a few tools you may want to consider:
"You can automate all events of the onboarding process," says Laure, "We automate the all-hands meeting every Monday and, for each session, a related Notion document is automatically created." This not only saves time but also ensures that nothing is missed.
A video conferencing platform like Livestorm, that integrates with communication software tools like Calendly and Slack, will support onboarding automation by making it easy to schedule and manage live onboarding sessions.
A checklist can help you track progress and ensure every step is completed. You can find ready-made checklists online or create your own with productivity tools like Asana.
Here's what you can add to your virtual onboarding checklist:
It can be challenging to build relationships virtually, so it's essential to make an effort to connect with new employees on a personal level. Employees should have regular check-ins with their managers and other team members during their first week, month, and after six months.
These regular touchpoints will help you identify areas where additional support may be needed.
Regular team bonding activities can help build relationships virtually and promote a sense of belonging. These activities can be as simple as scheduling regular virtual coffee breaks, starting an online book club, or adding Slack channels for non-work-related topics.
Collaboration tools like Donut can also help encourage team bonding and build a cohesive virtual workplace. Donut pairs employees randomly for weekly coffee chats and provides conversation starters to help break the ice.
Tools like Typeform make it easy to collect feedback on the onboarding process. You can also add this to your virtual onboarding checklist to track progress and identify areas that may need improvement.
Collecting feedback will show you if new employees are finding the process helpful or if they need additional support. For example, if you find that new employees are struggling to understand your company's culture, you can host dedicated training sessions or add more information to your onboarding materials.
Virtual onboarding doesn't have to be boring! Icebreakers, fun activities, and games can help new employees feel welcome and engaged.
Here are a few creative ways to onboard new employees virtually:
When you have a new hire starting remotely, virtual onboarding games offer a chance to get everyone in the team involved and excited about the new arrival. It builds team morale and promotes a sense of belonging.
Here are a few ideas:
Starting a new job can be overwhelming, so it's important to take some time to relax and recharge. Add a mindfulness activity to your virtual onboarding checklist, such as:
Alleviating stress as a group can help reduce anxiety and promote a sense of calm and build bonds between team members.
Themed meetings are the perfect excuse to dress up in silly costumes, have fun, and get to know your new colleagues. You can set simple themes based on movies and TV shows or create your own unique themes like superheroes, spies, medieval knights, or pirates.
These are online sessions where employees share insights and connect. The virtual lunch and learn topics you cover will depend on the interests of your team.
A few examples include:
Use incentives to engage and motivate employees. You can create virtual challenges with bounties or prizes for the winners. For example, you can offer a bounty for the employee who comes up with the best virtual game idea.
You can also use "gamification" to make learning fun and engaging. For example, you can add points or badges for completing onboarding tasks. The employee with the most points at the end of the onboarding process can win a prize.
At its core, onboarding is about people. It's about creating a sense of belonging. Scheduling one-on-one meetings, getting to know your team's interests, and building trust are all essential for successful virtual onboarding.
While virtual onboarding comes with some challenges, there are also many opportunities to get creative and build strong relationships. With a little effort, you can create a strong foundation for your team that will set them up for success.
Use a video conferencing platform like Livestorm to meet face-to-face and record training sessions so they can be watched on-demand for a more flexible onboarding experience. Livestorm's integrations can also help you automate tedious repetitive tasks like sending emails and reminders to your new hires for a seamless workflow.
In virtual onboarding, new employees learn about their roles and responsibilities, the company culture, and the tools and systems they need to do their jobs effectively. The goal is to help new employees feel welcome, engaged, and motivated so they can hit the ground running as soon as possible.
Virtual onboarding is important because it helps new employees transition into their roles smoothly, and it sets them up for success in the long run. A well-designed virtual onboarding program can help reduce turnover, improve job satisfaction, and increase productivity.
To prepare a virtual onboarding plan, create a checklist of everything you need to do, set up video conferencing software like Livestorm, automate repetitive tasks like emails and reminders, and create engaging content for your new hires.
The 4 phases of onboarding are the pre-boarding phase, introductions phase, discovery phase and review phase.
You can gather feedback from new employees by sending out surveys and questionnaires using tools like Typeform. You can also set up 1:1 meetings to check in with new employees and see how they're settling into their roles.