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How To Onboard New Hires — Virtually


Virtually onboarding new hires is the new normal at many companies. The process doesn't come naturally. Traditionally, onboarding is considered a personal process in which new employees are "hugged" into the firm. Now, the hugs are often virtual.

Nevertheless, the process is the same. You need to have a plan for what the new employees will do before their first day (perhaps filling out forms and getting a welcome packet), day one, week one and so on. During the time between when they receive your offer letter and their first day, your messaging should consistently reinforce the company's brand, culture, mission and values in a way that is personal to the new hire. 

Have a plan and a process
Ensuring everything you need for onboarding is ready to go, from documentation to handbooks to technology, is important. If this is the first time you are onboarding someone this way, preparation will include making sure documents that need to be filled out are formatted so they can be filled out and signed online. Programs used to create these forms include JotForm, ApowerPDF, PDFescape and Adobe Acrobat DC. Document management software also assists with virtual hiring. Microsoft SharePoint, OnlyOffice and Adobe Document Cloud are some programs that are available in this category. Videoconferencing software such as GoToMeeting and Zoom as well as learning management systems such as Adobe Captivate Prime and Docebo are needed as well.

No one size fits all, but there is much in common
When it comes to onboarding, every company is different. Still, every company's onboarding process should reflect the company brand and culture and deliver the knowledge and skills the new hires will need to succeed. 
Here are three hints for a successful onboarding process:

  1. Technology. When new hires get their laptops and any other devices they need, they should be ready to go, with all necessary programs and applications already downloaded.
  2. Human resources. New hires should meet with HR to discuss internal policies. The company handbook should be reviewed and any questions answered. If forms are filled out before the employee's start date, HR should be sure to clarify the choices they have regarding benefits.
  3. Team building. Making a new hire feel welcomed and valued can be tricky when done virtually. Within the first week, it's important to
    1. Arrange virtual meetings with others on the employee's team. Whether these meetings are one-on-one or in groups, the goal should be informing the new hire about what each person on the team does and how they will work together. The new employee's manager should have an initial one-on-one meeting to set goals and expectations. This meeting should be followed up with daily or weekly meetings to develop a relationship and answer questions.
    2. Set up virtual meetings with the heads of other departments so the employee gets a feel for your company's overall operations.
    3. Encourage virtual lunches, dinners or happy hours with the person's team so team members can get to know each other on a more personal level. 

If you're hiring, be sure to work with professionals to make sure the onboarding process goes as smoothly as possible.

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Scott Johnson
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12 Welch Avenue, #7
Stoughton, MA 02072
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