HR leaders should remember a company does not become an expert on virtual onboarding overnight BY Coann Labitoria 27 Apr 2022 Share Since the COVID-19 pandemic came and halted the world's daily routine, many businesses and organizations have made a move to adjust to the new normal. Included in those adjustments is the shifting of the onboarding process online – especially for remote workers. There are various techniques and strategies HR leaders can handle an online onboarding process, but there are some basic tips that work for almost all situations. Onboarding in the new normal The COVID-19 pandemic has seen a sharp change in the way companies operate a business and handle their workforce. As offices are beginning to open globally and more employees are reporting to work onsite, remote work will still see a massive demand in the following years. Kate Lister, president of Global Workplace Analytics, told Recode that around 70% of the workforce will work remotely at least five days a month by 2025. Remote work will continue to be a staple work arrangement offered by companies. According to a Northeastern University survey, more than 1,000 C-suite executives claimed the pandemic has made them more likely to encourage remote work as a way to recruit new employees. Because of the increase in remote work, HR leaders had to take the onboarding process online, which has now become the expected process for new employees. This then saw many employers invest in new tools and methods that help make virtual onboarding and training easier for both employer and employee. For example, many companies quickly adopted new technology systems, applications, and platforms to easily connect every remote worker. Read more: Remote work: 8 in 10 employees desire a long-term policy Pro tips on onboarding new employees remotely A company does not become an expert on virtual onboarding in an instant. It takes a lot of trial and error, research, and practice to find the right employee onboarding program that fits the company culture of the company and its workforce. Most Read OSHA requirement begins Feb. 1 Upskill, reskill and overkill: Navigating your 2023 workforce planning strategy California HR tech firm lays off hundreds of employees Below are some basic tips employers can try to successfully onboard remote workers: Help the new employee set up their workspaces Compared to onsite employees who have a designated workspace ready for them since day one, a remote worker is left on their own to set up the equipment, workspace, and systems needed for their new job. One way to make the remote onboarding process easier is for employers to go ahead and help employees set up the needed applications before they even ask for assistance. Shipping the required equipment and providing clear and detailed steps on setting up the equipment, installing, and logging in on the needed applications and software days before their official first day on the job allows them to get a head start on their onboarding process. In addition, scheduling a video call meeting for the employee with an IT employee who can closely guide them through setting up and working the communication channels and other company applications can relieve the anxiety and stress new employees usually face. Provide them a welcome kit or package Nothing feels more welcoming than receiving a little token of appreciation from your employer in the form of a welcome package or a gift basket. Companies should consider giving out welcome packages to make employees feel included in the organization’s community. The contents of the welcome package could be anywhere from office items like a company mouse pad or an office mug to random tokens such as a company jacket or a small tote bag. Sending a welcome gift to new employees goes a long way in raising employee morale and satisfaction in the workforce. It is crucial to introduce new employees to the team It is crucial for employees to connect and get along with their co-workers, especially their teammates. When an employee has an open communication with their managers and co-workers, their productivity, employee engagement, and trust increases. Employers could set up virtual first-day lunch meetings with the new employee’s team members to create new work connections and for the new employee to feel a part of the team. Introducing new employees to their team early on in their onboarding process allows both the new employee and the team to share their expectations from each other and to explore how both parties will work together in the future. Build a buddy system for your new employees Usually, hiring managers onboard a group of new employees at a time in a bid to be more efficient with the virtual onboarding experience. Throughout the onboarding process, the new employees will rely on each other for help and support as they adjust to the company culture. Creating a buddy system between the new employees allows them to feel more comfortable exploring the company’s work system. Creating a buddy system for new employees encourages open communication and feedback sharing between employees – helping employers with training and guidance by the buddy by catching common mistakes that could go unnoticed by the employer. Designate a culture buddy for the new employees Aside from cultivating a buddy system for new employees, employers could also assign a culture buddy that has been with the company for a while to a new employee. Having a culture buddy allows the new employee to freely explore the company’s culture with the guidance of a current employee. The culture buddy system lets new employees get a hands-on experience of the workforce and their work operations, all the while receiving tips on how to work efficiently and interact with certain people and situations. Provide list of stakeholders in the company HR leaders should provide a list of the company’s key stakeholders to the new employees during their remote onboarding. The list should include the stakeholders that the employee will most likely interact with frequently, the role of each stakeholder, and a brief description of the stakeholder’s position. This allows new employees to understand the company’s operations more and how they fit in with the company’s success. The list also encourages new employees to meet and connect with the key stakeholders quicker, improving the workflow of the company. Read more: Should you move to permanent remote work? With the COVID-19 pandemic, HR leaders should understand the importance of adaptability when it comes to the organization and its employees. Employers need to take the time to observe the effects of their programs and approach – like their virtual onboarding process – on their employees and make the necessary changes to improve the process. Having an open line of communication between employers, managers, and employees is important in making sure employees feel included and important, all the while ensuring their work productivity and quality are high. 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