Remember the good old days of starting a new job? Maybe you’d wear a new outfit to look and feel your very best. Maybe you were a little nervous about the people you were going to meet and if you made the right decision to join the company. The feeling of walking around a brand new office, being introduced to all the new smiling faces and the names you were about to remember. It was a feeling of something exciting about to happen in your career.

Well, yet another surprise of 2020 has been welcoming people virtually to their new jobs. Not a lot of new faces in your home, no new interiors or smiling faces at the kitchen coffee pot. After all, it is the same one you’ve always had.

How do we recreate a warm, welcoming experience with virtual onboarding? How do we ensure our new employees have a good experience that confirms they made the right choice, generates excitement and creates new bonds with other employees, managers and beyond? Here are a few tips we thought we’d share to help.

Make sure the basics are covered.
If an employee has a virtual ‘first day’ at home, really think about the message you are sending since you are not physically there to greet them. Don’t make them wonder about how to get online, where their computer is, what time the onboarding calls are, etc. Share the itinerary for their first day and maybe a nice, branded company merchandise.

The message that is sent when the basics aren’t covered is “You’re not important.” If you’ve spent a lot of time identifying this key hire, making a strong pitch, putting together your best compensation package and gaining agreement – don’t drop the ball. It could negate all of the effort you’ve put forth. Bottom line: it will cost the organization in many ways.

Social connection is not a nice to have. It’s essential.
Be intentional about identifying ways for your new employees to connect socially with their team and with other new hires. Think about how they are a part of a new cohort and can bond as they go through the same ‘new employee’ experience. Have them work together to support each other. Since we’re not physically together, you’ll need to create events, moments, and programs to drive the engagement to the company and to one another. Think about what the first three events your hire will have for connection and program them into onboarding. Bring back the buddy program you may have experienced as a kid. Encourage people to work together and share how it is going.

Create regular collaboration sessions
Collaboration is the backbone of high performing teams. Set regular, short collaboration sessions with your team to encourage idea generation, sharing and growth. Embrace the new perspectives that you’ve worked hard to hire into the organization. This also gives new/old team members an opportunity to get to know each other, support each other’s ideas and envision how the new team member will contribute to the team.

In challenging times, being intentional and focused about building a strong connection to new employees is key. It sets the foundation for a high-performing team that can move mountains — even if it’s from the couch.

Happy hiring!

Human Resources Director, 2020