Are you in the middle of a critical hiring process but now worried about how you will onboard the new employee effectively? We have had a number of our clients worried about when they will be able to conduct their normal face to face onboarding and consider if they should just delay the recruitment process. The reality for many of our hires is that candidates will have a minimum of 3 months' notice which will take us to mid summer when a face to face process will hopefully be possible again. If not, then like our sudden implementation of remote working, can we find solution to ensure that we don't delay these appointments that are so critical to our business strategies?

Virtual onboarding may not be as popular as face to face but it has been used successfully for a considerable number of years. 

Here are 8 tips for developing a successful virtual onboarding plan.

1. Prioritise hiring needs

Evaluate all of the vacancies you are recruiting and prioritise which roles you MUST recruit and the ones that you know can be virtually onboarded. 

2. Review if your candidate is able to travel

Not all countries are in lockdown. One idea one of our leadership candidates had was travelling to one of our client's key locations and bunkering down for the forseable until restrictions are lifted. Widespread travel may not be possible but some limited amount maybe. 

3. Introductions

You can't go with the flow with virtual onboarding and must create a robust and detailed plan. You must also ensure that all required parties understand the expectation and objective of each activity. Make your welcome warm and let the new employee know as much as possible about the organisation, the key people and stakeholders relevant to their job. Don't rely on verbal communication and provide an organisation chart to help them to familiarise with their colleagues. Ensure that they have access to an information portal full of information about your business.

I have also heard that allocating a "buddy" is also a good way to make them feel at home. A buddy can guide them and answer any questions they may have to allow onboarding to be as quick as possible.

4. Avoid isolation

It may be an idea to go over the top with video meetings so as not to throw your new employee into more isolation than they are used to.

5. Don't overwhelm them!

Avoid information overload and give your new employee some breathing space to settle in. Not being able to physically walk around a building to have quick conversations is a barrier and so accept that this will take a bit longer than usual. Have a diaried plan and build in breathing space for learning.

Also don't only include them on calls with multiple stakeholders. Depending on their character, you may find they stay quiet and don't integrate as well. Consider their personality and get the balance right. 

6. Be flexible

Everyone is different and certainly learn in different ways and at different speeds. Don't be rigid with your onboarding plan and accept that you can amend it depending on your new employee. 

Have regular check ins, get their opinion on what they are learning, what they are missing and then fill the gaps.

7. Show your character

Ensure your onboarding plan shows the character and personality of your business. There are a lot of games, quizzes, virtual after work drinks and other activities taking place for employees to let off steam currently. You should definitely involve them in these and avoid the onboarding being just work, work, work.

8. Set key objectives

As with any onboarding plan, you should set clear and actionable objectives for the first 90 days. Make sure you review these. 

Here is a FREE guide to help you with onboarding