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Virtual Onboarding: How to Onboard Remote Hires With Success

By October 16, 2021March 31st, 2023No Comments

Imagine: you’ve just hired your dream candidate. But within 12 months, they quit. If you’re asking yourself why, you might want to start by examining your onboarding process, as 64% of employees have left a company within the first year after a negative onboarding experience.

With more companies going remote part- or full-time, the pressure is on to bring onboarding into the digital realm. Virtual onboarding can help accommodate remote workers or be an added boon to an in-person office setting.

How should you set your employees up for success with a fully virtual onboarding program? We’ve put together a guide on how to do it right.

Table of Contents
6 Tips For Successful Remote Onboarding
Benefits of Virtual Onboarding
What Are the Phases of Onboarding?

6 Tips For Successful Remote Onboarding

Fully remote employees can provide many benefits, but they’ll need to be correctly onboarded before they can provide those benefits.

1. Connect and Communicate

Frequent, genuine connection is key for any onboarding process, but with remote employees, it’s even more important. Think about it from a fully remote employee’s perspective: they’ve landed a new role where they won’t regularly interact with people in person or and potentially won’t ever meet their new coworkers face-to-face. In this case, communication can help them feel like a valuable addition to the team who will be supported throughout their job with your company.

Communication is so important that 72% of employees listed one-on-one time with their manager as the top thing they look for during onboarding, followed by a direct list of performance goals. Both of these things boil down to great communication within the first few weeks.

2. Revamp Training Documents

Without the ability to roll over to your colleague’s desk and ask a question, remote onboarding can be a slow and complicated process when small questions or needs arise. When you’re onboarding a fully remote employee, make sure your documents are thorough and accessible enough that they will know exactly where to go when these smaller process or day-to-day questions arise.

3. Preboarding

Since you’re going to be interacting with this employee over virtual platforms, you’ll want to make sure you have them set up for success before they begin working. Best-in-class companies are 53% more likely to preboard, which essentially means setting them up with the passwords they’ll need to log in to any programs they’ll use for work and sending them their credentials via email.

You may also want to add them to any relevant communication channels on whichever app you’ll use to communicate with them, like Slack or Teams. This can avoid any awkward moments where they aren’t sure what to do or how to log in to their essential platforms.

4. Use a Mentorship System

Mentors can help new employees feel less intimidated by their new colleagues. When starting fully remote, some hires will never see their coworkers face-to-face, so they may start to feel isolated from the rest of the team. A mentorship system can help build community by giving your employees a friendly face to connect with and who can help them integrate into the workplace while also answering any early questions they may have.

A buddy program has a proven success rate, with 87% of companies reporting that a mentorship program boosted efficacy. Even so, less than half of companies actually assign buddies to new hires. Doing so can help new hires feel welcomed and be more productive.

5. Prolong the Onboarding Process

While a traditional onboarding process may come with face-to-face meetings and in-office time to get used to the job, virtual onboarding will involve a lot more solitary learning and training. Thus, it might be beneficial to give remote employees more time to get used to the company culture and processes. To avoid Zoom fatigue, scheduling trainings farther apart may help them learn the new information that comes with a new job without getting overloaded too fast.

Most companies spend less than two months on the entire onboarding process, but studies have shown that employees at companies with longer programs achieve full proficiency 34% faster than companies with shorter ones.

6. Follow Up and Get Feedback

Each new employee can be a learning experience. When the onboarding process is completed, send a feedback form to glean information on how you can improve your onboarding moving forward. You should ask them what aspects of the onboarding process they appreciated and which could have been built out more. Also, ask them what questions they still have so you can get those addressed right away.

It is also a best practice to check in regularly throughout the onboarding process rather than waiting until the end. This can make your new employee feel valued while also helping you adjust trainings and communication to their needs.

Benefits of Virtual Onboarding

The biggest benefit to virtual onboarding is the ability to hire employees who live in different cities, states, or even countries. A digital onboarding process can help you accommodate these employees and bring them onto your workforce.

However, some companies opt for virtual or hybrid onboarding even if they are mostly in-office, because it can shift some of the pressure off of managers. With a good virtual onboarding system in place, the employee can be more independent throughout the process and reduce the amount of meetings or one-on-one training sessions.

The flexibility of virtual onboarding is beneficial for both remote and in-person employees, especially since 58% of employees want to learn at their own pace. A virtual program frees up managers’ time to accomplish their own work while giving the employee a self-paced training program that they can digest in a way that is most beneficial for them.

What Are the Phases of Onboarding?

As onboarding progresses, employees will become more independent and able to succeed on their own. But it’s important to get them to that point by taking care of them during the early days.

1. Preboarding

Preboarding begins the moment your candidate accepts the job offer. In those first few weeks, you should focus on getting them set up for success while also feeding their excitement to join the company.

Tip: Send them a welcome email or video, set them up with a work email and any necessary login credentials, and send them a prospective plan for their first few weeks.

2. Getting Adjusted

The first week will be mostly spent getting adjusted and getting to know the company. Introduce your new hire to their managers, the immediate team, and anyone they will interact with day-to-day. You can also use this time to make your company culture shine by getting them involved with aspects of your company beyond the workday.

Tip: Host a welcome happy hour in person or via Zoom to introduce your new hire to their teammates.

3. Training

The first month will be spent conducting role-specific training to help your new hire get hold of their responsibilities. Spend this time teaching your new hire more about how to do their job, getting into the nitty-gritty of the role, and giving them specific, in-depth lessons.

Tip: Provide video recordings or process documents to supplement training sessions and keep the information accessible.

4. Ongoing Development

Once they’re trained and on their own, spend the next few months to a year giving them more development opportunities and helping them grow. The ongoing development phase can last throughout their employment, as upskilling is a good focus for companies in general. Always help your employees set actionable goals and provide opportunities to grow with your company.

Tip: Conduct frequent check-ins to discuss your employee’s goals and how they can be achieved.

A good onboarding program is a key to employee retention and happiness. Virtual onboarding is crucial for any employees that are remote or global and can make or break an expansion into a new place.

When looking to go global, the onboarding will be up to you. But if you’re wondering where to find great global talent, Velocity Global can help.