Virtual onboarding isn’t scary, and it shouldn’t affect your talent pipeline

25 days ago by Jon Musgrave
Virtual Onboarding Blog 0920

One of the biggest challenges affecting many businesses this year, undoubtedly causing many sleepless nights amongst senior people, is the effect of the new normal on the people in their businesses. It is relatively easy to find quick solutions to address the needs of employees, both from a practical and wellbeing perspective. You know them and what they need to do their jobs, but how do you ensure a successful and seamless experience for new hires in a completely virtual onboarding process?

Faced with this, some employers are tentative about their ability to provide a virtual onboarding experience and are trying to ride out the storm in the hope they can pause on recruitment and wait it out until we are all back in the office. The old model worked, so why try to fix it?

Why it’s important to keep the talent pipeline flowing

In a nutshell, 2020 has dramatically altered how the economy functions and organisational agility has never been so important. Globally, businesses are evolving to ensure their survival. For employees, the value attributed to work-life balance, job satisfaction and how they feel supported by their employer is at the top of the agenda.

Without engaged, supported and secure employees, businesses can be as agile and transformative as they like, but they need the right people to be on that journey with them. With new demands and evolutions, recruitment and talent acquisition play a vital role in ensuring organisational success.

Thinking differently about the onboarding experience

The key to a successful virtual onboarding experience is to focus on what you can control within the business and design the process from an employee-first perspective.

  1. Processes – reviewing current processes is a good place to start. At each key stage re-design the process for a remote experience. This might mean engaging with additional departments across the business to ensure new processes are synchronised.

  2. Communication – frequent communication with new hires has never been so important. At the outset of the process outline what the onboarding plan is going to look like and the part that each party will play. Follow this up with consistent contact throughout the process.

  3. Equipment- thinking about how to get equipment and other physical items to someone at their home address is one of the biggest tasks to consider. The new employee won’t have access to any of the usual office-based resources – stationery, hardware, the IT team. Aim to replicate the hardware they would have on their desk in the office. This should be sent ahead of their first day so everything can be set up.

  4. Resources – provide new hires with an easily accessible online welcome pack which covers off the key pieces of information they’ll need. Securely sending laptop and software passwords prior to their first day also means avoiding any login issues on day one.

  5. Building relationships – a significant amount of online face time should be built in during the first few weeks so that the new hire can build relationships with people at all levels across the business. There are no opportunities to chat by the water cooler or drop into team meetings to say hello. Software such as Teams or Zoom should be the go-to communication tool (camera on of course!).

  6. Performance – the new hire’s line manager should organise regular chats and use these to communicate how remote working should work, role objectives and how performance will be measured. Bums on seats was never a measurement of performance and is even less so in a remote working environment. Outputs are currency and the new hire needs to be clear on what they are to deliver.

It is true that the virtual onboarding process will take some practice to get right, but as with all business evolution, it will soon become part of the standard process for everyone involved. Even when we can return to the office en masse, the way people want to work will be changed forever. We’re working with clients who are now actively seeking out the best talent globally - not just in their own backyard. Pausing recruitment and onboarding in the hope that things will go back to normal could end up affecting more than your talent acquisition pipeline.

Let’s talk

If you want to chat further about how to keep talent flowing into your business and building a people-first experience, please get in touch with me over here.

The information contained in this article does not constitute business advice and should not be acted on as such. This content is based on our understanding in September 2020. Head Resourcing are not liable for the information contained on any third-party websites linked to this article.


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