As the global pandemic continues to force significant changes in the workplace – including a shift to remote-based work – recruiters must not forget about the importance of the onboarding process, which plays a significant role in fostering an environment of inclusion and retention. According to a study by BambooHR, approximately 33% of new hires look for a new job within the first six months of their employment, and this rate may be higher for remote-based workers. Unfortunately, only 27% of organizations have transitioned to a structured virtual onboarding process.
The transition doesn’t need to be too complicated. We have outlined four ideas to assist your organization in developing an effective virtual onboarding program to foster a positive experience for new hires.
1. Prepare onboarding resources for the first day
Put yourself in the shoes of the new employee and remember how frustrating it can be to not know who to turn to with questions. Even something as simple as logging into the intranet can be puzzling without knowing the password to access. For remote-based employees the anxiety can multiply as there is no colleague sitting in the next desk who can offer help. Human resource staff should anticipate the needs of new employees and provide a list of resources, for example, the contact information for managers, at least two colleagues who can serve as mentors, the HR Business Partner, as well as the IT help desk. Assigning a mentor or new hire ambassador also helps acclimate new employees to the culture and values of the organization.
2. Provide a roadmap of expectations
Managers should provide clear expectations of performance for the first 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days. These expectations should be combined into a new hire guide and distributed during their first week. By setting realistic and actionable goals and timelines, managers can better prepare new employees for success and minimize uncertainty. It’s also important that managers discuss the goals during one-on-one virtual calls, with frequent check-ins and ongoing coaching to ensure the new hire has needed support.
3. Build connections via virtual meetings
Videoconferencing is not always considered a part of the onboarding process but it’s important in developing a team culture. New hires should be included in team meetings from day one so they have the opportunity to meet different members of the team, as well as employees from other parts of the organization that they will be working with. It’s important to understand that technology serves as a supplement to human interaction. Not all virtual meetings need to be work-related and it can be fun to coordinate lunch meetings and after work social events so that new employees may build personal connections that will make the workday much more satisfying.
4. Digitalize and gamify the process
New hires may be less enthusiastic with the paperwork requirements that are a part of onboarding across organizations. To keep this process moving along, utilize software that will allow new employees to complete all paperwork online. This will improve completion rate and enable employees to focus on their new role quickly.
Another method to make the material more engaging is to gamify the onboarding materials. Redesign written documents into interactive webinars or online modules which can result in increased engagement and boost retention of the information. Even though the material is interactive it would still be a good idea to coordinate a virtual Q/A with managers so that employees can clarify any areas of uncertainty. It’s also a good idea to set up this Q/A session with several new hires so that they may engage in collaborative learning and make new connections.
Providing a quality-based virtual onboarding program benefits your organization because employees who have a positive early experience will develop a sense of loyalty which increases the potential for long-term retention. According to research from the Wynhurst Group, employees who experienced a structured virtual onboarding process were nearly 60% more likely to remain with the employer after three years. A corollary benefit is that these new hires can become brand ambassadors for your organization within their circles of influence which is a major boost to future recruitment efforts within a competitive labor market.
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