Virtual Onboarding

Over the past year we’ve seen a huge transformation in remote working practices owing to Covid-19. As companies adjust to new ways of working, virtual employee onboarding has become one of the big HR trends.

While this pivot was an initial response to the pandemic, many employers have found it to be a successful model. So much so, that the virtual onboarding experience is being widely adopted and rolled out in companies worldwide.

With the recent news that 74% of professionals expect remote working to become the industry standard (Forbes), here’s everything you need to know about implementing a successful program using virtual onboarding best practices.

Virtually Employee onboarding – everything you need to know

You might wonder how remote onboarding can be achieved when some of the core essentials, such as face-to-face interaction, are stripped away? However, there’s still a huge opportunity to develop a solid virtual onboarding experience.

One of the best ways to achieve this, is to break down onboarding into four phases:

Phase 1: Pre-onboarding

From the moment a candidate accepts your offer, there’s an opportunity to ease them into the company and its culture. One of the recent virtual employee onboarding ideas that LinkedIn implemented to new starters, is hosting a week-long virtual program, with live presentations and Q&A sessions. This is a great way for new starters to feel prepared and part of the team.

Phase 2: Welcome

There’s nothing worse than starting on day one, without the right equipment in place. Even in these virtual times it can be avoided with planning in advance, and getting to know each individual and their work from home setup.

The first week in a new job is significant, and the virtual onboarding experience can still be special. Set up video meetings with team members, ensure they have access to tools like Microsoft office, Zoom and Slack, and maybe even organise a cocktail night with the team. Making individuals feel valued and included is a sure-fire way to maintain employee engagement.

Phase 3: Orientation

Goal setting, role-specific training, and learning more about the company is an ongoing process that starts from the onset. Think about creative ways to bring this to life, using the

benefits of virtual employee onboarding. For instance, use online breakout rooms, have regular Zoom check-ins and offer unlimited access to remote training to support and enhance their work journey.

Phase 4: Ongoing development and retention

One of our top virtual employee onboarding tips is to consider the long-game. Retention and ongoing employee development is so often pushed to the back, but needs to be considered as part of the overall onboarding strategy. Offering training, support and opportunities to grow and develop has never been more important.

Virtual Onboarding Best Practices and Challenges

While there will always be virtual employee onboarding challenges, these can be mitigated when you consider best practices. Let’s take a look at some of these.

  • Start early – onboarding can never start too early, right? Get the team to film messages welcoming the newcomer, send them welcome packs, corporate handbooks and digital tools all in advance of day one.
  • Optimise technology – ensure team members have access to the right tools and software to hit the ground running.
  • Frequent check-ins – in the first week especially, it’s important to regularly check-in with your team member. This can be dialled down in the days after, but being available through video calls, email and phone is important to ensure they navigate the everyday challenges.
  • Buddying – it’s invaluable to have someone likeminded to talk to, so buddying your new team member with a seasoned colleague can prove beneficial.
  • Ask for feedback – you can do this through a pulse survey or otherwise, it doesn’t have to be onerous. The point is that you’re also learning and evolving as a business, and this means taking on feedback to enhance the virtual onboarding experience.

In Summary

In these virtual times we must look for new, creative and inspiring ways to make new joiners feel included and connected to their team mates. Achieving this is key to a successful job hire that will benefit the company and employee for years to come. We hope some of these virtual employee onboarding ideas have inspired you!


Laura Belyea