Virtual Onboarding for New Employees

Virtual Onboarding for New Employees

The first days at a new job can really set the tone for someone’s entire experience with an organization. In fact, 69 percent of employees are more likely to stay with a company for at least three years if they have a great onboarding experience.

Many organizations have rolled out onboarding procedures over the years that include training and social gatherings. As the pandemic continues, usual approaches have shifted with virtual onboarding as part of the norm.

Here are five ways to make a virtual onboarding experience as impactful, effective, and connected as in-person onboarding for your new hires.

TLDR: In our highly digital world, welcoming new employees with thought and structure is crucial to a strong start at a new job. This blog recommends five tactics to create a positive virtual onboarding experience for new hires.

1) A Special Introduction
2) 30/60/90 Day Onboarding Process
3) Taking in the Culture
4) Have Their Back
5) Continually Improve the Process


1) A Special Introduction 👋

A new job can make you feel like the new kid at school. You walk into the room, all eyes on you, and everyone’s curious to learn more. Be the leader who makes orientation fun with a special virtual introduction to the team.

Welcome Email. Send your new hire a list of questions and write a welcome email based on their responses. On their first day, send it to the entire team. Keep it light and fun! Questions can include:

  • What was your most recent job?
  • What did you want to be when you grew up?
  • What are you looking forward to most about working here?
  • Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

Alternatively, you can post a welcome message on a Slack or Teams channel to start a conversation amongst employees.

  • Virtual Welcome Meeting. Set up a virtual meeting with the entire team on a video chat platform, like Zoom. You can frame the discussion as an AMA–Ask Me Anything–session, where you open the virtual floor to the team to ask questions to the person of interest. Make this a time to focus on your new hire, so they can get to know the team.

  • Social Media Post. Celebrate your new hire by featuring them in a post on your social media pages. Don’t forget to include a photo and a welcome message!

2) 30/60/90 Day Onboarding Process 📅

A 30/60/90 day onboarding plan is a tool to help new employees navigate their first three months of the job with goals and dates to track progress. After each milestone, schedule a virtual check-in to make sure they’re on track!

  • 30 days. The first 30 days focus on start-up tasks and learning. These include getting set up on organizational platforms (e.g., email and logins), administrative duties (e.g., contract and payment details), getting to know the team and culture, skill-based training, familiarizing themselves with past work, and starting work on projects.

  • 60 days. The new hire should feel settled in and be moving past IT troubleshooting. Now, you can empower your employee to take more responsibility. Set key performance indicators (KPIs) for the month, like speaking up more in team meetings. Ask them to note down pain points in their role they could use support or guidance on.

  • 90 days. In this phase, your new hire should take control of their role and experience autonomy and accountability. A KPI at this stage could be independently working on a project from beginning to end. (This should not discourage them from asking for support when needed).

3) Taking in the Culture 🎉

Most people strive to find meaningful work in organizations that embody values that align with their own. So, in a new hire’s early days, familiarize them with the company culture to ensure everyone’s on the same page.

  • What is company culture? Organizational culture is a workplace environment made up of employees' behaviors, beliefs, attitudes, values, physical working conditions, and customs. At work, it shines through in various ways, like the language used amongst employees (e.g. formal or super casual), how teams celebrate together (or don’t), and daily work practices (e.g. how meetings are run). Workplace cultures can vary vastly–the culture on a pirate ship looks a lot different than that of a courtroom. Think about what makes up your organizational culture and present it to your new hire.

  • Consider hosting a company mission and vision refresher session to align your new hire and remind your team of the company’s core beliefs and culture. Some pieces to talk through in a session include mission statements, company values, future business plans, brand architecture, and leadership structure.

4) Leadership and Support System 🤝

Feeling supported, secure, and safe on a team helps anyone flourish and grow. Ensure your new hire has people to turn to as they begin work. Encourage them to build a rapport with various key team members and encourage them to ask questions.

  • Direct supervisor. Have the new hire’s immediate supervisor involved in the onboarding process from day one. Ensure their supervisor is ready to support the new employee by answering questions and troubleshooting as they begin work.

  • Departmental support. Having a group to turn to is helpful. Encourage departmental team bonding to help your new hire settle into a supportive environment. Schedule a virtual meet and greet or even online games to spark team bonding.

  • Upper management. Introduce your new hire to upper management and departmental managers. Orientation should be thorough, so make time to introduce your new hire to managers of all levels.

5) Continually Improve the Process 💡

Designing an onboarding plan should be a constantly iterating process. Revising based on employee feedback is the best way to create a successful onboarding experience. As your employee moves through onboarding, make sure to check in with them to see what is working and what is not. You can schedule regular check-ins, encourage questions, and even provide a feedback form specifically based on onboarding.

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