Adapting to a virtual job can be hard for new hires, but these 10 onboarding and management ideas will help you get them off to a flying start
What’s the point of putting so much time and care into hiring the right person, only to have them leave after a few months? If your onboarding ideas are shoddy it can seriously hurt employee retention, and when it comes to virtual onboarding it can be even more difficult to get it right.
And when studies have shown that great employee onboarding can improve retention by 82%, you can’t afford to ignore it!
We’ve taken on new hires from all over the world since going virtual – and our onboarding ideas have developed into a solid strategy to improve retention and happiness. Here are our tips!
1 – Plan it out
Organisation is your best friend when it comes to virtual onboarding. There’s lots to do in your new hire’s first few weeks – introductions, planning, goal setting, learning and the dreaded paperwork.
And it’s so much harder to do all of this remotely.
Basically you need to get all of your ducks in a row well before your new hire’s first day. Because as soon as they start it’s going to be jam-packed!
We’ve created a free Onboarding Checklist to help you get everything in order!
2 – Introductions
The most enjoyable part of onboarding is getting to know your new co-worker. But introductions can be more complicated when they’re remote.
This is especially true when you’ve got a bigger team. There are far more introductions to make and that can take a lot of time.
I’d recommend starting introductions on your new hire’s first day. In a meeting, have your team introduce themselves and explain their role in the company. Then let your new hire introduce themselves and their experience too.
When you know more friendly faces in the company you work for, you gain an understanding of how the business actually works. You understand more about where you stand and have more people to reach out to for help.
Introductions – even on video calls – can help set new hires at ease and make them feel included from day 1.
3 – Make space in meetings
Speaking of video calls, does your new hire know how to navigate virtual meetings? If this is their first role working from home, perhaps they don’t.
Meetings can be scary for juniors. The anxiety of speaking up, being accepted and saying the right thing can weigh heavily.
But it’s so vital that your hire is involved and engaged from their very first meeting. So make some space for them!
We use the stand-up meeting format to make sure that everyone on the team gets their chance to speak and be listened to. If you want to help your junior prepare and feel confident in their first meeting, our free Daily Stand-up Meeting Worksheet can help.
4 – Buddy up
It’s very easy to feel lonely when working from home. Reaching out over Slack isn’t as easy as tapping your neighbour on the shoulder.
I would really recommend buddying your new hire up with one of your other employees for their first few days. This is a game-changer.
Giving your new hire a friend on their first day in the virtual office is crucial. This ensures that they’re never at a loss for who to reach out to for help. And they can build a friendship along the way!
If you don’t feel like you have friends on your team, you won’t feel like you belong on that team.
5 – Assess your management style
No matter how many employees you’ve taken on in the office, taking people on virtually is a new game.
We’ve moved our focus to planning and structure. We actually spend time filming tutorial videos instead of endlessly hopping on video calls. Videos that new hires can re-watch for clarification are invaluable for training.
They save everyone a lot of time. And when you talk through a problem while recording your screen in demonstration, you’ll get fewer questions at the end too.
A simple tutorial video can be a resource people return to for months. So if you want to streamline your onboarding process to really get your hires off to a flying start, I’d really recommend making some!
6 – Probation review
If you’re running a standard 3 month probation review period and you don’t hold probation review meetings, I really recommend you do!
When it comes to remote working you can’t afford to miss an opportunity to over-communicate. Probation review meetings are your perfect chance to assess your hire’s work, progression and any next steps.
Probation review meetings are a powerful way to help your hires succeed beyond that 3 month mark too. You can help them set goals, understand how their success is measured and become better at their job.
If you need any help planning probation review meetings so that they actually yield results, our free Probation Review Worksheet can help.
7 – Training
Speaking of assessing next steps, arranging training sessions is key to successful virtual onboarding.
We all want to progress in our role, and no one wants to hit the ground running like a new hire. I’d really recommend arranging their first few weeks of training sessions right off the bat.
Training should be consistent if you want to get good results.
8 – Get feedback
Giving feedback and getting feedback are two very different things. But it’s important to not forget about the latter.
Your onboarding process can always be improved – that’s just a given. But no one knows it better than the people you’ve just onboarded.
So towards the end of the onboarding process I’d really recommend getting some feedback from your new employee. Do they still feel confused about anything? Or do they feel confident and ready to begin their normal day-to-day tasks?
9 – Plan for the future
Speaking of training, it’s a good idea to give your new hire an idea of the future they’re working towards. What will good work result in?
A possible promotion to a management position is a big motivator. And it will hopefully give your employee a vision of the future they could have with you.
Setting up motivators and envisioning long-term goals is really important for onboarding. It helps your new hire stay excited, driven and committed to progress for months after their onboarding is finished.
10 – Balance structure and freedom
I’ve mentioned structure already, but I’m coming back to it!
For the last tip, I’d remember to balance structure and freedom. Structure can help juniors feel safe and looked after as they navigate a new role, but freedom shows trust and confidence in their abilities.
It’s important that you don’t misjudge and either give your new hire way too much structure or overload on freedom. Too much structure can feel like you’re holding their hand, triggering anxiety and stress.
Too much freedom on the other hand can make some people feel abandoned, alone and confused.
It’s can be a tricky balance to strike, but it’s essential.
If you want to test out any of these virtual onboarding and management ideas on some talented new hires, sign up to DigitalGrads!