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Remote onboarding: five tips for the perfect virtual welcome

The whole process of onboarding has been thrown a curve ball by COVID-19. Where remote onboarding used to be rare, many companies now have to do it. And in a post-COVID environment virtual onboarding will become a permanent fixture in the employee lifecycle

But is it possible to deliver the same level of welcome remotely as you would in a physical environment?

There’s no doubt that getting the onboarding of new joiners ‘right’ is incredibly important. It plays a key role not only in welcoming, but also retaining them as employees.

According to data from the Human Capital Institute, 20% of new hires leave a job within the first 45 days after a bad onboarding experience. So, here are our five top tips to help you create the perfect virtual welcome for your new joiners.

Get to know them before they arrive

A thorough pre-boarding process will not only help you find out more about the new joiner, enabling you to prepare more effectively for their arrival, but will also act as a good icebreaker.

By the time they begin working they will be familiar with at least one or two of their new colleagues and also have had some insight into how the organisation operates. A key part of this pre-boarding process should be a ‘get to know you’ survey which covers a range of topics, from their likes and dislikes to their workstation setup at home.

The information you receive from the survey can help you tailor the welcome they get, and also ensure they have everything they need ahead of actually starting work.

Have a welcome pack delivered to their door

Starting a new job is often daunting and even more so when done remotely – the sense of detachment and remoteness can seem odd at first. That’s why it’s important for the new joiner to feel at home, whilst working from home.

A great way to do that is to provide a welcome pack that is delivered to their door, either before their first day or on the day itself.

Create a first day agenda

The virtual onboarding really kicks in on the new recruit’s first day, and it is key that you have a clear plan for not only day one, but also the first week. This plan should involve the whole team at various points so your new joiner has a chance to get to know everyone they’re going to be working with.

In a physical setting these interactions would happen naturally, however, when working remotely these need to be consciously planned.

Make their first week a collaborative experience

There’s always a lot to take in when starting a new job, and when doing this remotely it’s even more crucial that the new recruit doesn’t feel overwhelmed or suffer from information overload.

Whilst it’s important that they get up to speed on critical projects and learn about systems and processes, it is also key to leave space in the first week agenda for them to absorb the content and formulate some questions themselves.

This works even better if you can make it a collaborative process, enabling them to input when they are ready for more content.

Make it an ongoing welcome

The perfect welcome shouldn’t just be limited to the first day or week. During their first quarter, you should start to see relationships and collaborations develop with team members and your new joiner should become a fully integrated part of the team.

To ensure this happens and things are continually moving in the right direction, their line manager will need to take an active role. This includes conducting regular virtual check-ins to gain insight into how your new joiner is feeling and offering support where required.

Duncan Casemore is co-founder and CTO of Applaud

Further reading:

Two-thirds in HR struggle with onboarding

Signed, sealed and delivered: Global HR at DHL

What key trends must HR adopt to keep up with the changing recruitment industry?

Data in hiring: The recruitment revolution