Virtual Onboarding - How Your New Hires Can Feel Welcome In The Remote Work Environment

As we all acclimate to the remote working environment, there are many of us who miss the hustle of the in-person interactions and can’t seem to imagine some activities remotely. This is more so true in functions that traditionally involve large group formats like training, town hall meetings, and onboarding! Quite a few organizations face the challenge of fitting processes such as hiring and onboarding new talent into an environment that is still new to them. With no physical contact and connect with employees, it can be difficult to welcome a new hire in the old way. 
Though there is tension in the air with job losses and pay cuts in a few industries (Aviation, Hospitality, and Tourism), there is a boom in other industries (Healthcare, E-commerce, and Essential retail). This might result in new hirings in this transitionary phase. 
But there are ways to do this seamlessly and effectively so that your new hires feel the warm welcome they deserve. 
So how you do handle remote interviewing and subsequent onboarding?
So how can you create a virtual onboarding process?
1# Spread the onboarding process over a few days: With everyone working from home and managing more than just domestic chores, one of the best ways to ease in a new hire is to spread out the process over a few days, allowing them the flexibility to tune in and give them the chance to absorb everything. 
2# If anything, over-communicate: New hires must feel the same anxiety a student while switching schools. How will they make friends? Will their boss like them? Will they fit into the work culture? And now, they have to do it remotely! To address this and quell their discomfort, ensure you communicate with them at frequent intervals to simulate conversations you would have had if they were available in person. 
3# Ensure a warm welcome: Just because it is a virtual welcome, it doesn’t have to be impersonal. You can hit the ground running by 
  • Getting the entire team to send congratulatory emails or messages to the new hire.
  • Include them in the relevant chat/instant messenger groups to initiate informal conversations so they start feeling like they are a part of the team.
  • Managers can also set up a brief 1:1 session with the new hires and the rest of the team so they get to know each other on a more personal basis. 
  • Team leaders can organize a virtual lunch or coffee session for the entire team in the first few days to help break the ice and build rapport.
4# Assign a welcome buddy: To provide more hands-on support, especially for the first couple of weeks, team leaders can assign every new hire, a virtual ‘welcome buddy’. This could be someone in the team or someone from the HR department who can show them the ropes and ensure that they have a successful start at the new organization. 
5# Ceate an onboarding docket: Consider creating an onboarding road map that can give the new hires all the information they might need - including who to approach for what, benefits, policies, what the expectations for the first week are, etc.
6# Keep in touch: Create ongoing touchpoints and check-ins to ensure smooth transitions. This could be done by various people including the HR team, reporting manager, teammates, welcome buddy, and so on.  
Even in this unprecedented time, the shift to remote working should not hinder new employees from feeling welcome and prepared in the new organization. Remote working is the future of work. So it helps to be prepared for this change. A little bit of creativity and a lot of planning can create an experience similar to a traditional onboarding process.

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