5 Tips to Master Virtual On boarding in the Pandemic

Viren Kapadia August 16, 2021
5 Tips to Master Virtual On boarding in the Pandemic

The Importance of Onboarding

The induction process of new hires is a critical cog in the machinery of human resources management. Get it wrong and the chances of retention, assimilation, and consequently the productivity of inductees will plummet. In a 2018 online survey, BambooHR found that employees who felt that their onboarding was highly effective were 18 times more likely to feel highly committed to the organization, and the likelihood of job satisfaction is 30 times higher. With onboarding being a critical harbinger of invaluable benefits of employee engagement, loyalty, and impact on productivity and retention, organizations pay close attention to the process of onboarding new hires. Failure on this front can prove to be an expensive proposition in terms of forgoing the cost of talent acquisition and incurring an additional burden of fresh hiring exercises to complete talent gaps arising out of any churn.

Onboarding during Disruption

With remote working becoming the new pandemic-induced normal, organizations are taking a hard relook at their onboarding processes. The traditional induction process of on-location physical interaction and face to face dialogues and team introductions and familiarizing new hires about the company culture and norms is no longer feasible. The process of hiring and onboarding has moved to a virtual environment. Not only did the set standard induction practices which were largely document and presentation-based, required to be transformed and tweaked for a digital world, but also the experience.

Taking C. A. R. E.

  • Virtual onboarding, therefore, requires the adoption and practice of CARE:
  • Consistent, qualitative experience similar or better than the time tested pre-pandemic in-person orientation exercise for new hires;
  • Accessibility to key stakeholders, team leaders, mentors and peers, system and procedures, learnings and knowledge;
  • Remote working support facilities and infrastructure;
  • Extended onboarding and reach-out, if required.

The CARE approach to virtual onboarding can ease the pain of new inductees providing an experience not dissimilar to a physical handshake. Feeling cared for creates an emotional connection that builds binding relationships and a sense of belonging from the word go. It can become a sound basis for developing a clear onboarding plan with positive outcomes.

Tech Enablers

Emerging and new technologies are now available to make the CARE approach easily feasible for enterprises. Tech tools support an array of features that help overcome virtual onboarding challenges. Digital meeting and conferencing tools, like Google Meet, Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams, etc. effectively do away with the need for physical contact. XR (Extended Reality) technology provides an engaging experience with a human feel.

5 Tips

Let us examine a few ways to see how an on-location touch and to feel onboarding experience can be approximated, and in some instances be better, in a virtual environment.

  • Pre-joining process After recruitment and formalities connected with the acceptance of the letter of appointment and terms and conditions are over, a welcome kit including all the paraphernalia and resources which the company would usually provide should be couriered to the new hires' remote location. These would include laptops, mobiles, internet connections, token welcome gifts like company mugs, coasters, penned, or some other knick-knack with company branding, etc. If not supplied, these may be funded for self-purchase as per company policy. Additionally, the list and contact details of support persons should be conveyed for need-based clarification of issues. This will include team leaders, HR teams, and IT teams. IT support contact is most important to ensure that the recruit is equipped with appropriate software and apps and ready for his virtual onboarding. The laptop/mobile connection, work emails, and video streaming bandwidth must be tested to work smoothly per the onboarding schedule with secure connections and credentials.

    This introductory step not only ensures that the new hire gets an insight into the company culture but also inculcates the feeling of being a welcome addition to the family. Even more importantly, it prepares the recruit for onboarding.

  • Share Onboarding Schedule to ensure that everybody is on the same page, create a timetable with a schedule of activities and inputs and share the same in advance with the resource teams and the new inductees. It is preferable to have a time that is convenient for all. In the event of different time zones, it may be desirable to undertake the exercise separately for groups per time zone.

  • Virtual Tour Even though one is working remotely, getting familiar with the physical office gives one a better sense of identity. Create a 3D/XR video to take new hires on a virtual tour of the office space. This will create a connection and a sense of pride and belonging. This is a good way to dispel the isolation remote working brings and the familiarity with the workspace is welcomed for its feeling of oneness.

  • Create a Resource Centre a central point accessible to the new hire should be developed to mitigate ongoing queries and doubts. Even though the company may make conscious efforts at open communication channels with access to identified support persons, new entrants have a natural diffidence and hesitation to approach higher-ups. An impersonal resource center comprising instructions about procedures and processes, policy guidelines, organizational structure and charts, knowledge bank, FAQs, etc. is a big help in smooth induction. Such a center is a useful asset to the enterprise even after recruits are well settled and a great reference source for all employees.

  • Make Onboarding an Ongoing Process Successful organizations recognize that virtual onboarding is not a one-time exercise. Recruits require handholding for a longer period than one or a few days of the formal induction program. It is easy to feel isolated and lost in a remote work situation. Recruits would not yet have developed the support network or the confidence. It takes time to familiarize oneself with the new environment. One drawback of virtual onboarding is the lack of a water cooler and lunchroom/cafe moments. Casual interactions which give deeper insights and understanding about the nuances of the workspace are missing. To overcome this, virtual onboarding should encompass discussions, one-on-one meetings, and video calls between team members, with team leaders, sessions with senior colleagues and management sharing their experiences, etc. as a means of reducing the lead time of new hires becoming productive team players.

Experts Can Help

Providing a good onboarding experience is fundamental to employee engagement and goes a long way in job satisfaction and employee retention. Remote onboarding requires a well-thought-out strategy supported by technology to easily implement best practices for successful virtual onboarding. At Gyrus, we have customizable and innovative digital solutions to overcome any challenges of remote onboarding with impressive results. Our GyrusAim solution helps in accelerating new hire connections and shortens ramp-up time for new employees. Do visit us for your virtual onboarding needs.