4 Tips for an Effective Virtual Onboarding Agenda

by | May 26, 2021 | Blog, Roundpeg, Strategy | Entrepreneurship

Virtual onboarding is here to stay

As it becomes safe to return to the workplace in a “post-Covid-19” world, it may seem like an odd time to introduce a guide for effective virtual onboarding. But consider these statistics: prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, about 17% of U.S. employees worked from home 5 days a week. Now, 44% of U.S. employees continue to work from home. Quarantines and lockdowns forced businesses to either close their doors or adapt to a workstyle where their team could get their work done from home. Given these statistics, there are many employers that are allowing (or in some cases, closing their doors and enforcing) working from home for the foreseeable future. The days of onboarding new team members virtually are not behind us.

Roundpeg and Deksia are no strangers to onboarding team members virtually, especially because we began a merging of our two companies amidst the pandemic. Below are four techniques to an effective and successful virtual onboarding. 

Automate the tedious tasks

When onboarding new team members, there are many tedious tasks to be done; reviewing company policies (who out there has revamped their company policies to reflect a WFH environment?), having the team member fill out their I-9, setting up and inventorying their laptop, introducing new software to the team member, setting up payroll, plus much more. 

The first step in finding success when onboarding a team member remotely is to be organized and overly prepared for the virtual onboarding. Several days in advance of the onboarding, document an agenda for your time spent with the new team member; what are you going to do and when are you going to do it? We are all past the point of the classic Zoom blunders; “my technology isn’t working,” the dog barking in the background, or fumbling through a presentation because you weren’t prepared. Lay out an agenda so you can be focused and engaged with your new team member, not worried about what you’re going to discuss next.

Automating the tedious tasks like I-9 form fills, payroll setup, and software implementation can be done in the background and do not need to be at the forefront of your time spent with your new team member. We use a software called Rippling, which automates these tasks at the click of a button. However, you don’t need a software to do this – simply build these tasks into your pre-virtual onboarding agenda, or as solo time for your team member in between time spent on a Zoom call.

Don’t forget the icebreakers

Icebreakers can be seen as a cheesy, corporate way to force team bonding. But in today’s world of virtual interactions and working alone at home, some of us could use some cheesy forced team bonding. Ask some questions that prompt an answer beyond a simple “yes,” “no,” or a favorite color. Some ideas: 

  1. What would the title of your autobiography be, and why?
  2. If you hosted a late night talk show, who would you want as your first guest?
  3. If you could be any type of car, what would it be, and why?
  4. What is the most unique food you’ve ever eaten? Briefly tell the backstory of where and why you ate it.

Dialogue, then allow time to process

You are going to be showing and telling your new team member a lot of information. Try to make this “show and tell” a dialogue, instead of simply talking at the individual the entire time. Ask questions, give pauses to offer them the opportunity to ask questions, and ask for their thoughts on a topic. 

Also, be sure to include scheduled breaks in your onboarding agenda. Not everyone thrives and learns best in a college lecture environment, the same can be said for a drawn out, one-sided presentation about a new company and a new team. Break it up into chunks, give time for breaks for lunch, stretching, or walks, then come back together rejuvenated.

Meeting the team: behind the scenes & one-on-ones

Regardless of the size of the team the newbie is joining, meeting new people can be intimidating. When we meet new people, we often retain some of their characteristics, a clothing item they’re wearing, or the space in which we meet them – and this helps us to remember who they are in the future. When we meet a whole group of people online at once, it is very difficult to differentiate those people down the road. 

To find success in these introductions, display the team to the new team member before they actually meet them face-to-face. Show this individual an organizational chart or a list of team bios to lay out each team members: name, role, department and level within the company, and any unique facts about them. Visuals are helpful too – so when the new team member finally has the opportunity to meet their coworkers, they feel like they already know a bit about each person, instead of meeting a big group all at once.

The next step should be one-on-one introductions, or at least small group introductions. Having one new team member meet 20 coworkers virtually at once is very intimidating. Allow small group introductions and the opportunity for some ice breaker questions in this setting, so everyone can get to know each other in a lighthearted manner.

The time spent virtually onboarding a new team member is time spent setting them up for success. If your team member is set up for success, you can avoid redundant questions asked later and most valuably, avoid time spent on employee turnover. Have patience, be thorough, and both you and your team member will find value in your time spent onboarding together.

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