Virtual Onboarding

Last time we looked at issues related to virtual hiring and today’s topic is what to do after someone is hired. Virtual onboarding is obviously a little trickier than onboarding in person, so here are some tips. Some of these are obvious, but who hasn’t had a time when the obvious was forgotten?

+ Replace a job description with a statement of roles and accountabilities. Clearly identify what is expected and identify the accountabilities. Accountabilities are important because it demonstrates from the beginning that you expect the person to be responsible for outcomes. Review this on the first morning and check back during the next few weeks to make sure the person is clear on these responsibilities.

+ Engage the team of the new employee. It’s important that everyone on the team (as well as people external to the team whose jobs “touch” the new person) have a role in the onboarding so that the new person has a sense of what others do, directly from the source. You may want to welcome the new employee with a virtual lunch on the first day as an icebreaker.

+ Make a departmental or company-wide introduction. If appropriate, do this on a video call. If the department is too big, at least send an announcement over email and encourage department members to reach out and extend their welcomes.

+ Pace the onboarding schedule. This is a little different than when we onboard “live” in an office. It’s better to extend it out over more days and spread the responsibility among the various staff members whose jobs will overlap with that of the new person. LinkedIn has a helpful article on virtual onboarding that provides a sample time frame.

+ Technology training is essential. Ensure that the new person receives proper training on technology. If you need to provide equipment, obviously do this ahead of time so that the person can be up and running on the first day of work. Things like company email, access to remote servers, etc. are all part of this. Make sure that you include your company’s protocol on everything from email signatures to expected response times.

Keep in mind that in the first few months managers need to “over manage”. Someone needs to make sure that the onboarding is going as planned and that the new person is comfortable what has been conveyed. That’s your job. This is especially important since most new people tend to say that things are “OK” even when they’re not. Look for signs of overwhelm.

There are obviously more things to consider but start with this list. There are helpful resources available, including an article from SHRM. Please feel free to share with me your experiences with virtual onboarding.

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