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Virtual Onboarding Made Easy

Virtual Onboarding Made Easy

by Chris Ballinger

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Over the last month with the new lockdown laws, several clients and candidates have asked me what, how, why, when and which onboarding process they can use to virtually onboard a new employee who needs to work from home. OR can it even be done?!?!

The answer is yes, it can absolutely be done! For most companies and managers, this is a brand-new concept. Below are some of the best tips and hints that Richard Lloyd’s accounting focused candidates and clients have used to make the process as effective and as smooth as possible for all parties involved. To assist you further, these are broken into three distinct timelines.

Before They Start 

  • Map the ‘’new employee experience’’ – put yourself in the new starter’s shoes. What do they need to know and what would they like to know? What is the method of communication - by phone, Zoom etc?? How often will you catch up in the first week and into the future? How will you make them feel welcome and part of the team?
  • Pre-reading - Before the employee's first day, send them some pre-reading and information to assist them become familiar with the company and what is expected of them. This also gives them the opportunity to get away from Netflix and Carol Baskins’ cool cats and kittens gang. Get them engaged before starting the job, but give them the opportunity to read the information in their own time.
  • Home office – getting your new hire's home IT set up before their official start day is just as important. Do they need a computer and associated peripherals and if they are expected to communicate frequently by phone - how will they do this? Ensure that your IT team are available to assist in the set up as required. Don't forget the ergonomic assessment to ensure their work, health and safety is not impacted by working from home.
  • Set up the new employee with logins to all of the necessary systems – there is nothing worse than a new employee spending their first couple of days in a new role not being able to access the system, whether it be in the office or when they need to work from home. Don't forget to set them up with an email address so that they can start receiving any companywide communications and feel part of the business at the outset.
  • Schedule virtual coffee meet ups and other necessary catch ups with the rest of the team. Doing this will ensure that from the first day the new employee's first week is already mapped out for them. Regular meet and greets with the team will reduce their anxiety about not being able to interact in person.

First Week

  • Virtual check ins - Schedule daily video chats to set expectations for the day. In times like these, advertise an "open door" policy, not just to your new employee, but to the rest of your team. Depending on the tools you use, your staff can easily see when you are available or busy. If they don't know already, ensure they have the right contact details to easily reach you during business hours if they need to ask any questions (something that is taken for granted when they normally sit next to you in the office).
  • Tech access and support – provide the new employee with the details of your IT department (if you have one) or the guru that may be able to assist with any issues relating to computer set-up or access. There is nothing more frustrating than an IT issue when you just want to get on with your work. If you use a tool such at Microsoft Teams (or similar), you can record an IT/system training session - this can be especially handy as it can be rewatched as many times as needed.
  • Onboarding plan - Set a clear plan with the new employee over the next 30, 60 and 90 days including goals and your expectations of them. Be as specific as you can so they feel confident that they know what success looks like.
  • Interaction with the team – set up some small fun activities with the team and encourage your new employee to get involved. At Richard Lloyd, we have virtual team quizzes every Friday afternoon and catch up every morning on Zoom to collaborate and talk about our successes.

Week Two and Beyond

  • New employee feedback – give your new employee the chance to give regular feedback on what may be working for them virtually and what isn't. This gives you the opportunity to adjust your approach, style etc. where applicable to help enhance the onboarding journey.
  • Group chat - Set up a group or add the new employee to a preferred platform for the team to interact on a regular basis that is not all about work. This could be a WhatsApp group, Microsoft Teams or even a group email for them to have fun. The chat can involve working from home tips, recommended TV series or even just a place to send funny memes. Make it fun and as interactive as possible.

While remote onboarding is a new frontier for many of us, the most important thing is that the general process remains the same – have an onboarding plan that is comprehensive and makes the new employee feel included in the team from the very start. 

Virtual Onboarding Checklist

In my job, I talk with a lot of people every day and the most common feedback I am getting from my candidates, clients, colleagues and friends is how important personal interaction is. As this is difficult to replicate virtually, make sure your new employee's onboarding is made as interactive and as fun as possible so the first impression is a good one.

To assist you, why not begin with this checklist as a starting point to your successful onboarding process.

For more tips on hiring during these times, feel free to contact our team of Accounting recruitment specialists at Richard Lloyd.