In the new day of work from home, many organizations are opening up their roles to be filled from any location. Virtual onboarding provides new employees an understanding of your organization, core values, daily routines, and workplace culture – through online means. Establishing your workplace’s culture is key to a successful virtual onboarding program.
Here are three ways you can show your culture when onboarding virtually:
- Facilitate Virtual Introductions
- Keep Up With Consistent Communication
- Provide Plenty of Opportunities For Engagement
An ideal onboarding process retains employees, boosts new hires’ productivity, and creates a welcoming atmosphere in your workplace culture– but what happens when onboarding can’t be done in person?
The answer is virtual onboarding, which is the process of integrating new hires virtually.
At Roundtable Learning, our team of experts partners with organizations to create or improve their onboarding programs.
This article defines what virtual onboarding is, discusses common challenges of virtual onboarding, and shares tips to establish workplace culture for remote employees.
What Is Virtual Onboarding?
With the rise of remote positions in workplaces worldwide, the need for efficient virtual onboarding has also increased. Virtual onboarding provides your new employees an understanding of your organization, core values, daily routines, and workplace culture – through online means such as Zoom, Slack, or Teams.
For a successful virtual onboarding process for new hires, your process should be structured around these five goals:
- Impression – Affirm the new employee’s decision to join the organization.
- Introduction – Build the employee’s understanding of the organization.
- Integration – Ensure that the employee understands their role, how they contribute to their team, and how their team adds value to the organization.
- Immersion – Build the employee’s knowledge of the functions, processes, and skills required for success in their role.
- Independence – Validate that the employee can perform the critical functions of their role.
However, this is easier said than done, as 88% of employees believe their organization doesn’t onboard effectively. Effectively establishing your workplace culture when onboarding virtually shows your organization’s core values and problem-solving skills – which portrays your organization’s culture in a positive light.
Common Challenges Of Virtual Onboarding
Virtual onboarding comes with its own set of challenges, along with the challenges that onboarding processes inherently struggle with – but when addressed correctly, virtual onboarding can become an effective and convenient way to onboard new employees and introduce your workplace culture from near or far.
To create a virtual onboarding experience that successfully conveys the workplace culture, identifying key challenge areas is critical. Here are some common challenges of establishing culture when virtually onboarding:
One challenge in virtual onboarding is the conversion of an organization’s in-person onboarding materials into a virtual onboarding program. Many organizations make the mistake of utilizing the same training material used in an in-person session and attempting to do this over video conference.
Solution: Convert Materials Into Multiple Modalities
Learning content is most effective when it is used for the modality it is designed for. This means that taking content from instructor-led training sessions and presenting them in a virtual format may not be as effective as redesigning the material for the new modality.
A rule of thumb is that an experienced virtual facilitator can cover between 66% and 75% of the amount of content that they could cover in a traditional face-to-face environment. By taking the time to convert your content into different modalities such as virtual instructor-led training, eLearning, videos, or others, you can increase the effectiveness of the material.
Establishing Human Connections
Employees work at their best when they feel connected to their coworkers and have built positive relationships in the workplace. However, being remote limits the opportunity to organically build these relationships.
Without connecting with other team members in a meaningful way, new hires could struggle in their new positions. If they struggle to connect with their colleagues, how can they hope to connect with your workplace’s culture?
Solution: Utilize Virtual Introductions
Setting up a virtual meeting with your team to introduce your new hire is essential for integrating your new hire. Having everyone turn on their cameras is helpful, as new hires can then place names on faces.
During this time, new hires can also be introduced to different aspects of your organization, what they do, and how all your systems work together towards your overall organizational goal. In doing so, new hires similarly experience an onboarding process that would occur if it were in person, and will gain an understanding of what your workplace culture is like.
4 Tips for Successful Virtual Onboarding
The above challenges can result in a difficult experience for your new hires, but when utilized effectively, virtual onboarding can be an efficient method for integrating your new hires into the workplace culture. The following are some tips for successful virtual onboarding:
Start With a Welcome Package
Your new hire’s enthusiasm for their new position may be boosted by sending them a “welcome package”. This establishes your workplace culture as a prepared organization that prioritizes the treatment of its employees. Your package should include:
- Company-themed items (clothing, hats, pens, etc)
- Required on-job materials (work computer, earbuds, etc)
- Business cards (if applicable)
Utilize Technologies to Bridge the Gap
In the new age of technology, a new hire doesn’t need to physically be in a location to experience a location. Consider using virtual reality to introduce the key locations through tours and other activities to help new hires feel more connected to the organization. Augmented reality is a great tool to bring machinery, products, and equipment to your learners from anywhere.
Maintain Consistent Communication
When new hires are remote, it is essential to schedule consistent touchpoints with them to answer any questions they may have. During these calls:
- Explain everything about your organization
- Share important information about “who is who”
- Describe how your organization is structured
- Share what the workflow process looks like
- Provide the appropriate documentation that your new hire will need
In doing so, your new hire will experience an effective onboarding process and will gain an understanding of your workplace culture.
Consistent communication does not need to only be with leaders. Encourage your team to schedule time with your new hire, so they can be acquainted with different team members. During these meetings, team members can describe their specific roles and how it fits into the organization.
This also allows your new hire to build connections with multiple people, which builds a sense of “community”.
Provide Plenty of Opportunities For Engagement
Remote employees run the risk of lacking engagement with their new workplace. To make up for this, schedule as many remote activities as possible.
This includes involving all team members in project meetings, fun virtual activities, or allowing opportunities for your new hires to check in with leaders as much as necessary. Examples include:
- Scheduling a virtual lunch
- Schedule a video call with your entire team
- Send your hire some company-branded items
- Schedule a virtual Happy Hour
The most important aspect of this is to provide your new hire with information and engagement with your organization in a positive, supportive light.
Could Virtual Onboarding Benefit Your Culture-Establishing Endeavors?
Looking to learn more about virtual onboarding and its benefits in establishing workplace culture? Reach out to one of our experts today and they will answer any questions you have!