Feature Story

New employee? Say hi to virtual onboarding

Training, orientations, and more are utilizing online tools.

The protocol for onboarding new employees has changed. For some companies, virtual onboarding and orientations have been the norm for remote workers. For others, introducing culture, protocols, and job duties have all shifted online. U.S. Federal agencies are just one of many organizations making the shift to virtual onboarding. Instead of starting the first day of work and learning the ropes at HQ, new employees are turning on laptops for virtual intros, getting up to speed on collaborative tools, and taking online seminars on company policies. And the importance of maintaining proper onboarding for new employees cannot be overstated. The Human Capital Institute says companies that improve onboarding experience are more likely to see key benefits, such as increased engagement levels, decreased time to proficiency, and decreased turnover.

See also: Leaders share the top things you should know about WFH

But new employees are not the only ones learning online for work. Workplace training and certifications are increasingly online with video conferences and Webex seminars. While the technology has long been around, current times have pushed virtual onboarding and workplace and certification trainings to another level, where employees are using technology— from video conferencing to virtual whiteboards—to learn, collaborate and share knowledge.

Getting on board

Hiring is essential in times like these, where crucial roles are still needed to help keep businesses up and running. And with staggering reports from HR industry studies that say there is a 20 percent staff turnover within the first 45 days of employment, an excellent onboarding experience is more crucial than ever. 

Here are a few tips to make the onboarding experience seamless and rewarding for all parties. 

  • Keep it simple: Take into consideration just how much new information an employee is receiving while being onboarded. With papers to sign, videos to watch, and people to meet, managers may find it helpful to find the right balance between learning, engagement, and goals for new employees. Schedules should be streamlined to set up the employee for success.
  • One-on-ones are important: While many managers and employees may not be physically face-to-face, it is still important to instill a personal connection to the company. Regular phone calls and video meetings during onboarding allow for knowledge sharing and education, and perhaps most importantly, building a solid relationship between colleagues.
  • Use collaboration tools: The key to streamlining the onboarding process and creating more space for one-on-ones are collaboration tools. Use scheduling software to find time to engage with other employees, use messaging tools to keep conversation flowing, and even utilize video conferencing to participate in virtual happy hours to meet new coworkers.

Getting certified

For those who are missing the global conference circuit, the seminars, and the in-person panels, there are still training and certification opportunities online. Events have shifted virtually, and so do the needs of both organizers and participants—Fast Company states a few things to keep in mind while you are building an online training session.

  • Train facilitators: The training content might be the same, but the format may be a big change for many. Consider getting your facilitators up-to-speed on the tech needed to run the meeting smoothly.
  • Get a facilitator for your facilitator: Participants may have their own technical issues or may want to pose questions to the chat group. A person facilitating chat responses, break-out rooms, and tech help can be useful to keep things on track. 
  • Be flexible with participants: As it is with in-person events, attendee participation may run the gamut of introversion and extroversion. Encourage live conversation and chat between participants, but also consider personal, reflective exercises for others as well.

Although we may all be getting used to onboarding, training, and living life virtually, there are definite benefits to the process. Travel expenses and putting other work on hold make in-person events costly and time consuming. Digital formats allow participants to receive the information when it suits them best. Companies can save on flights and hotel expenses, and attendees can press pause to take notes and fully soak in new information. If the format is constructed for organizers, speakers, and participants in mind, we can build a new kind of experience and knowledge sharing online.


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