Virtual Onboarding: How To Engage Remote Workers Early On

Many businesses worldwide went from thinking about remote work plans to quickly putting them into action. As a result of social distancing and stay-at-home orders still in place, millions of people have been ejected from the conference room and required to work from home.

While some organizations were equipped with remote collaboration tools, many of us face the challenge of onboarding new employees in a virtual environment. With 97% of employees open to remotely onboarding with a new employer, companies need to develop virtual training programs that provide an engaging and immersive experience.

How can we ensure new talent understands our business’s value and culture? Is it possible to still create a fun environment online that encourages learning?

Four Best Practices For Virtual Onboarding

Let’s explore a few virtual onboarding best practices to ensure employees are not only set up for success in their role but also feel a part of the team culture.

1. Keep Everyone Accountable

When working remotely, managers aren’t able to quickly check-in with new employees to make sure the onboarding process is running smoothly. To keep everyone involved on track, both managers and trainees need to have clear instructions, expectations, and goals. Consider implementing:

• A meet-and-greet road map that documents the onboarding process.

• Virtual mentors who guide the employee with resources and value.

• Regular video calls to answer questions and put a face to the name.

With a successful structure, virtual onboarding plans will ensure new employees experience an informative and engaging training.

2. Establish An Efficient Work Environment

Once structure and accountability are established, it’s essential to have the right tools in place to support your virtual training program. Depending on how long the training is, you may need to invest in project management and storage tools and develop a plan to distribute technology like laptops and keyboards. With so many working adults depending on a computer, it’s essential to work with IT teams to establish guidelines for new employees working remotely with technology.

3. Provide A Cultural Experience

In a typical onboarding training session, you would provide information on company history, values, and culture. However, within a new reality, building company culture and making new hires feel included is challenging. To establish a company culture within virtual training, include:

• Virtual team happy hours for employees to get to know each other. Try our JEOPARDY!® game, it works seamlessly on most web conferencing platforms.

• Remote first-day lunches to help people feel welcomed.

• Photos and videos that demonstrate your history, events, etc.

• An internal newsletter to keep everyone informed.

• A “culture mentor” to help ease employees into the company

Additionally, keep the team in communication by regularly scheduling video calls and instant messaging so new few employees feel included.

4. Gamify The Experience

It’s my belief that every successful virtual onboarding plan needs to include one last crucial element: fun! Managers can incorporate game-based elements, including games, activities, competitions, points, badges, and rewards, to help boost engagement and motivate new hires early on. Through leading a company based on this very principle, I’ve witnessed firsthand how game elements help people feel more socially connected. Making this a core part of your strategy can help to build an engaging work environment that encourages community and fun in the onboarding process.

Consider gamifying the following activities to elevate virtual onboarding:

• Performing an org-chart scavenger hunt.

• Reviewing tasks in a project management system.

• Getting familiar with HR guidelines and handbooks.

• Playing icebreakers to learn more about fellow peers.

By finding ways to build gamification into the onboarding process, managers can provide tasks and incentives in a fun way to communicate more about everything the company has to offer.

Create A Better Virtual Onboarding Experience

Since we may not be returning to the office any time soon, it’s essential to create a virtual onboarding experience that gets new hires engaged, improves their knowledge, and increases their retention. After all, employees are the engine of our businesses. The better our people, the faster and more smoothly our businesses will run.

First Published for Forbes Human Resources Council by The Game Agency’s Head of Creative Strategy & Innovation Stephen Baer as a member of Forbes Human Resources Council Member

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