How to Onboard & Train Virtually

Online Training

We’ve already seen a move toward more remote work positions, and the COVID-19 crisis has only further fueled the shift. In fact, employers who can design roles that allow working from home on an on-going basis are in a particularly strong position to attract top talent in the future.

Of course, this also means changing the way we hire, train and onboard new employees. To help overcome the challenges of virtual onboarding and training, here’s some helpful guidance from companies who have been doing it for years.

Looking for help with the hiring process? Check out How to Recruit & Hire Virtually

Virtual Onboarding & Training: A Guide for Remote Employers

A new hire’s first impression of your company is the onboarding and training process, typically conducted over a series of face-to-face meetings with HR, direct managers, members of leadership and the team. While you may not be conducting these processes in person anymore, you can still ensure a smooth transition and a favorable first experience for new hires with these five recommendations.

Send a Welcome Package

Set an inviting tone with a personalized welcome letter, and include separate documents detailing company policies and procedures, a list of the equipment the new employee will need, details about company communication and culture, and, if applicable, branded company marketing collateral. You may also want to include a schedule of meetings for the first day.

Make sure to send the welcome package at least a week before the designated start date, so your new employees have time to familiarize themselves with the materials, ask questions, and know what to anticipate on their first day.

Introduce New Employees with Virtual Meetings

In addition to a first-day video meeting with HR and their direct manager, consider setting up video meetings with the managers of other departments, as well as the new hire’s teammates, throughout their first week. These other members of the company may cover aspects of the training and answer questions, or they may simply talk abou ttheir job duties and share their personal experience at the company.

Regular team meetings – whether held once a week or once a month – also help to forge and sustain the relationship between new hires and their co-workers. This helps new hires to feel more connected and encourages them to collaborate and work as a team.

Check out our tips for hosting effective virtual meetings so you can make the most of the face-time you have with your team and new hires, even if it’s not actually face-to-face.

Schedule Regular Meetings with Managers

The most important part of onboarding for employees is one-on-one time with their manager. Regular communication between manager and remote employees is key to fostering trust, building rapport, and ensuring the new employee feels supported. More than just an opportunity for the manager to check in on the employee’s progress and productivity, this is a chance for the employee to ask questions, flag issues, and express concern if they are feeling overwhelmed.

Managers can easily schedule these meetings by sending out recurring calendar invites with a video chat link to Zoom or other video platform.

Establish a 30-60-90 Day Plan with Goals

Once the onboarding and training is complete, it’s important to develop a 30-60-90 day plan with goals  for new hires. This will provide you, as the employer or manager, with a concise timeframe for evaluations, as well as a specific measure of the each new hire’s progress. It also provides the new employee with a clear understanding of the duties and expectations in his or her new role.

Goals can be related to learning or performance, or they can be personal goals, but they should always follow the SMART method: be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. The 30-60-90 Day plan should also provide the new hire with action items to achieve these goals.

Keep Employees Engaged with Each Other

When employees are physically distanced from the office and their team members, it can be easy to isolate and disengage. This is especially true for newly hired employees who haven’t had the chance to experience the company’s culture. An internal communications platform, such as Slack, is a great professional tool that companies can use to keep employees connected and engaged.

Not only can Slack be used for communicating company-wide messages, but, similar to tools like Facebook Messenger, colleagues can direct message one another. Slack also allows for the creation of separate “Channels”, to which employees can subscribe and contribute. These channels may be specific to a team or project, but they can also be used for connecting solically. Think of it like a virtual water cooler, where employees with similar interests can exchange ideas and share information on everything from from fitness to parenting.

Is Your Company Growing?

A comprehensive virtual onboarding and training plan will not only help you grow your remote workforce, it will lead to higher employee retention, happier, more productive employees, and continued success for your company.

If your company’s growth has sparked a need for new office space, the Lakeside Park is here to help. We have a variety of office spaces for rent just outside Boston, and we are still operating while maintaining all required social distancing protocols. Contact us to arrange for a tour, or call (781) 557-5555 to learn more about our office space near Boston.