What not to do during virtual onboarding

A smooth onboarding process is one of the best ways to retain workers, keep them productive, and avoid the steep costs of replacing personnel. But according to a Gallup® report, just 12% of workers felt their employers did a great job at integrating them into the company. 

Virtual onboarding can be even more frustrating. In the office, face-to-face interactions help people connect in real time, understand their roles, and seek out support. Outside of the office, tech glitches and confusing expectations tend to be more common. 

The good news is that there are some simple ways to improve your virtual onboarding process. Here are some common mistakes to avoid when bringing on your next round of new hires. 

Skimping on tech 

The success of virtual onboarding lives and dies with technology. If you don’t get new hires up and running on your platforms quickly, they’ll struggle to keep up from day one. Make sure that IT reaches out in advance to arrange for new hires to receive their equipment, communication tools, and software platforms before their start date. 

Skipping the pre-boarding process 

New hires may be nervous about starting a new job, meeting their new team, and living up to expectations. If you don’t have a pre-boarding process, you’re missing out on an essential opportunity to ease their anxiety. One easy fix is to send them a welcome email or packet, including the schedule for their first day, any documents they’ll need, some information on employee benefits and code of conduct, and the names and photos of team members.   

Overloading new hires 

Cramming everything a new hire needs to learn into a one-day orientation can be overwhelming. There’s so much to digest—job responsibilities, names and faces, new equipment, and more. Training people virtually makes this even harder, because you can’t be there with them in the same room. One solution: Extend your onboarding process across weeks, even months. A lengthier process will allow new hires to learn at their own pace and feel confident on the job.  

Confusing expectations 

One of the top reasons people leave their jobs within the first six months is because their responsibilities don’t line up with what was described during the interview process, according to a survey by the tech company BambooHR®. Your virtual onboarding should make it clear what a new hire’s job entails—and matches what your recruiter described. If there are extra responsibilities, your onboarding process should offer training to help them perform. 

Leaving everything to HR 

Virtual onboarding isn’t the sole responsibility of HR. If you think it’s all about compliance and forms, think again. For the process to really work, whole teams must get involved. Managers can explain what they expect from the employees, how they’ll measure job performance, and field ongoing questions. Even though team members can’t invite new hires to coffee or swing by their desk, they can say hello on video chat or social channels and help them ease into the virtual work experience. Everyone benefits from a friendly, welcoming environment. 

Omitting company culture 

Between all the forms, formalities, and introductions, don’t forget to tout your company culture throughout the virtual onboarding process. Conveying the vibe of your workplace is more challenging to do remotely, but not impossible. Organize regular team lunches, and if you can, send corporate swag or a welcome basket. Social channels and messaging platforms are another place to amplify your culture and the personalities who make it so special. 

Forgetting to ask for feedback 

If you don’t ask for feedback, you’ll never improve. When the virtual onboarding process is over, ask new hires for insight on what worked and what might be done differently in the future. And really consider their suggestions; they’re the ones who’ve just gone through the process.