5 Strategies for Onboarding New Hires Virtually

It is imperative to establish a robust onboarding procedure for building a productive, engaged, and cohesive workforce. However, a small portion of new employees agree that their company does a great job onboarding new employees. Some organizations see a 50 percent employee turnover in the first 18 months of employment.

Onboarding is significant for engaging and retaining your employees for a longer stint. The onboarding process is even more critical for remote or virtual employees. This is because they do not have the advantage of developing relationships with other members of staff. Here are some tips for onboarding new hires virtually.

1. Develop their setup beforehand.

Before your new staff member begins, you need to lay the groundwork for successful integration. Keep in mind that remote workers will not have access to normal company resources such as desks, dedicated workspaces, and computers. Communicate with the new hires to find out their needs and any resources they are missing. Get the new hires to set up the right software, hardware, and access required for performing their duties. You can get help from PRO services for hiring and onboarding new hires virtually. Some of them have employee relocation and global mobility services that are helpful.

2. Adapt current onboarding material for their virtual learning.

If you have never performed onboarding for remote employees before, you may have to adapt the current process for virtual access and training. For instance, convert all contracts, hard copy training manuals, employee handbooks, procedures, and policy packets into normal digital files. Then, give virtual access to those files to the remote employees. Also, you can develop training videos and other learning modules that can be completed by employees independently and track their progress. If possible, maintain all the onboarding material at an accessible location that will allow employees to easily find all the information they need.

3. Complete virtual introductions.

In on-site office settings, you can take new hires around the office to introduce them to colleagues. When onboarding new hires virtually, this isn’t possible. To still encourage social interaction and bonding, set up team-building activities during breaks. Team-building interactions are also significant for the integration of virtual employees. In their first week, you can set up introductory calls with team members. You may have virtual happy hours or coffee breaks for getting new employees to know their colleagues casually. Having the new employees build relationships early can set a foundation for long-term success.

4. Communicate frequently by using one-on-one meetings.

It is critical to have frequent and intentional communication during the onboarding process. This helps remote employees develop a connection with their team and organization. There are several ways of connecting formally or informally with newer hires. For example, get the managers to block time every week to make sure that employees check in. Additionally, ask them to use video conferencing to make these meetings more personal and encourage better team connections. HR leaders and managers need to check in regularly with new remote hires. Keep in mind that remote work means less organic interaction.

5. Have a feedback loop.

Having feedback is an easy yet effective method for uncovering the needs of your employees. It is an important component of employee development and training. Develop a strong feedback culture because it can be crucial during uncertain times. You cannot always predict how these staff members will react or what they may require every day. Ensure that feedback is a part of your culture from their first day at work by including it in the onboarding process.


There are some unique challenges involved in onboarding new hires virtually. You are required to stay ahead of the curve by being aware of various requirements ahead of time and concentrating on feedback, training, and communication. You need to provide them the necessary support and tools required.

Employee Onboarding is Broken: HR Tech is the Fix

There are a couple of truths about why employee onboarding in the enterprise is broken and why HR Tech is the only solution

  1. There are multiple Systems of Records that a new hire has to deal with — Recruitment software, HRMS, payroll, LMS etc.
  2. Too many processes are manually driven that do not scale well — as result of point #1.

Employee Experience & Culture has been receiving a lot of interest lately. The fact that we are talking about the employee “experience” means that there is something fundamentally lacking in it currently. Let’s take a closer look at new hire experience and the two reasons stated above.

REASON 1: Multiple Systems of Records (SoR) & Processes

If you were to do a post-mortem study of how enterprise architectures are created — you would find the reason why…

Year 1 — Bought ERP & Payroll software — cause business cannot be done with them

Year 2 — Bought HRMS software

Year 3 — Bought Sales Software

Year 4 — Bought Learning Software

Year 5 — Bought Code Management Software

Year 6 — Bought Recruitment Software

And it goes on and on… the single truth is that, more often than not, these are all disparate systems that find it hard to talk to each other. The products were never built to seamlessly talk to each other. There are no sophisticated APIs and the data dictionaries are completely different. One calls it “first name” and the other one calls it “name 1”.

The tragedy of multiple systems is that it requires a level above it to orchestrate the whole circus going on behind the scenes.

New hires are expected to complete some of their details in the recruitment software, then, once offered a job — complete data capture in another system or on paper, get content as PDFs and notifications on email, receive phone calls from the HR team and try and self-assimilate all of this together to get a perspective of the company. It’s hard enough joining a new company and stressing about the first few months — but given the current state of onboarding — one must acknowledge the challenge that onboarding is for the employee.

REASON 2: Manual processes

Processes that depend on humans are always more susceptible to failure. In most organizations, employee onboarding relies a great deal on human intervention. However, due to the disparities in delivery of the same function over and over again, every new hire receives a different experience.

For a very few number, everything works perfectly as they are welcomed to the organization. For most, manual HR coordination result in delays, incomplete information or complete failures in processes.

HR tech solutions allow for automation of most of these mundane and historically manual processes. Apart from the significant cost & time savings, the advantage of automation also results in providing the best experience for each new hire — at any scale.

So, what’s next?

Technology can help make the onboarding process easier and a better employee experience. Here are a few things you could consider when looking at more technology lest it not add to another disconnected system of record :)

  1. First and foremost, adopt HR Tech that can automate & improve the employee onboarding experience!
  2. Make sure the technology chosen to automate can also orchestrate processes across the other existing systems in your enterprise

As an aside, the advantage of having a completely integrated infrastructure is the result of having data. Data is the most valuable asset you have. A single view of the employee data can lead to insights that help in making leadership, training and investment decisions.

I would love to know what your thoughts are on the multiple systems that drive the HR process today and the lack of a single view point on the entire employee onboarding process? Do you think new-age HR Tech is the answer? How do you manage at your organization?

Photo Credit: nikosandriotis Flickr via Compfight cc

Customer Experience Starts with Your Employees

Providing a great customer experience creates sustainable competitive advantage and higher profits. Here’s why that starts with designing a great employee experience — and how to do that.

There’s a solid argument to be made that “customer experience” isn’t just another business buzzword. As products, stores, and services increasingly begin to look alike, customer experience will increasingly define and differentiate a brand. Features, quality, and even price are (relatively) easy to match. Customer experience — not so much.

The term is (almost) impossibly broad, covering potentially everything from design, packaging and promotion through the sales transaction, use, reliability, and customer service.

Is the product thoughtfully designed and easy to use? Is the service easy to get set up with, and (at least for the most part) reliable? Does the offering provide good value for the cost?

How easy is an organization to do business with? Do new customers feel welcomed? If something does go wrong with the product or service, can the issue be resolved quickly, pleasantly, with a minimum of hassle? Is it easy to get questions answered?

The objective of providing great customer service may seem too broad to be anyone’s responsibility. Actually, its scope makes it everyone’s responsibility.Every employee — not just those who are “customer-facing” — has a role to play in optimizing the customer experience, from design to assembly to marketing, installation, billing, repair, and anything else that can impact the customer’s experience with the product, service, store or brand.

Which is why providing a great customer experience starts inside the company, with providing a great employee experience. Research has shown that happy employees make for happy customers.

Part of this pertains to the interpersonal aspects of management. Managers who are responsive to workers and value them demonstrate to employees they should be responsive to and value the company’s customers. This is why enterprises like Zappos, Southwest Airlines and Marriott are known both for their highly engaged employee culture as well as great customer experiences.

But there are more practical elements to providing a great employee experience as well. For example:

Employee onboarding: is there a smooth, organized process in place to onboard new employees, so everything is in place for them to be productive from day one on the job?

Employee provisioning: are there systems in place for employee provisioning that make it easy for workers to obtain anything needed to do their jobs, from equipment to furnishings to office supplies?

Shared services: is it easy for employees to request services like system access, printer repair, PTO, getting a broken window fixed, etc.? Are back-end fulfillment processes automated to deliver internal shared services quickly?

Having solid processes and systems in place in these areas models the importance of optimizing the new customer onboarding process and being responsive to customer needs throughout their ownership and use of the product or service.

But it also makes employees more productive. By removing distractions and impediments to employees performing their job tasks, such processes and systems enable staff to focus their efforts on their role in creating a great customer experience (rather than “babysitting” their requests, managing cumbersome manual processes, or waiting for and wondering where the service tech is).

As choices in nearly every product and service category proliferate, providing a great customer experience is what will make brands stand out. Want to be one of the winners? Start by providing a great employee experience.

A version of this post was first published on Medium on 10/19/2015