Many companies have had to transition to remote working due to the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, such important processes as hiring and onboarding new employees were moved online. If many managers previously onboarded new staff easily, on the fly, doing this online became much more challenging, requiring more structure and organization.

Here are a few virtual onboarding practices that will help you set up your new employees for success in their jobs and make them feel like part of the team more quickly.

1. Create an Onboarding Checklist

When dealing with new hires, you need to know what you want to achieve and how you’re going to accomplish it. Since you and your staff are not in the same physical space, it might be uncomfortable for employees to ask questions by email or instant messages. So, it’s useful to prepare an onboarding plan and share it with your new members on day one.

Your plan might include an onboarding checklist outlining tasks and goals for your new hires, broken down by day or week. For example:

2. Make Virtual Introductions

Since there’s no way to set up team lunch outings and welcome drinks, you need to look for another way to introduce your new hires to their co-workers. The easiest way is to organize video calls both with the entire team and individually with the colleagues they will communicate with most often.

After that, introduce the new member to the rest of the company. Send a company-wide email and provide brief details about the new hire, their role and their background.

3. Provide Secure Access to Apps and Tools

Your new employees will use a variety of business software and services to do their jobs. To provide them with access to all these apps, it will be extremely helpful to create a reference guide that covers all the tools your company uses and explains how to work with them. You also need to educate your employees on how to keep their credentials and other important data safe to avoid data breaches.

4. Define Communication Etiquette

Your new employees should know who to contact for their specific questions or concerns. It’s crucial to instruct them about your company’s communication etiquette, such as which channels to ask questions through, or in which cases it’s preferable to send an email instead of a chat message.

5. Introduce the Company Culture

Employees that feel like they fit are more likely to remain in an organization. To help your new members fit in, provide them with valuable information about the company. Let them know about your company’s vision, mission, goals and values. Outline the products and services you provide and orient them regarding your customers and competitors.

You don’t need to tell every new employee about these things personally. Just create an online course on the company culture that will cover all these points and deliver it to your new hires. Using this type of course has great benefits. First, it is available on demand and can be taken at any time. Second, it’s reusable. So, after it has been created, you can leverage it for onboarding all new staff.

Note: If you decide to build an online course in house, you will need an authoring tool — software that’s designed for creating online courses. You’ll also need access to an eLearning platform. A learning management system (LMS) will let you share your courses online and manage training tasks easily.

6. Implement Compliance Training

Each company has its policies and procedures, which are often job- or industry-specific. Educating your employees about them will help you and your staff prevent both problems in the workplace and violations of the law — and protect your business’ reputation. Compliance training might include a variety of topics: workplace safety, business ethics, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and anti-harassment, among others. Prioritize creating online courses on the topics in which your employees must be compliant.

Note: To make remote employee training even more engaging and effective, you can make your courses interactive. For example, most modern authoring tools allow you to add interactive quizzes to your courses with a variety of question types, from multiple-choice to hotspots and drag-and-drops.

7. Check In Regularly

By checking in with your new members periodically, such as once a week, you’ll be able to see if everything is going as you expected and, if an employee is encountering some hurdles, you can help them immediately.

You can also check in with your staff virtually by arranging a video call or just sending a quick chat message. These check-ins should not be limited to the employee’s line manager. They can also involve human resources (HR) professionals or even the head of their department.

Final Thoughts

Onboarding new employees virtually might seem like a daunting task, but with thoughtful planning and the right tools, you’ll have a pool of effective and engaged employees that will benefit your company for years to come.