The complete guide to virtual onboarding
A checklist to help you get started in the first two months
What is onboarding?
Onboarding is the initial process of orienting new employees and training them to become contributing members of the team. In addition to equipping new hires with the knowledge and tools they need to be successful in their new roles, onboarding should also help new employees become fully engaged and culturally acclimated, which means fostering the relationship with your new hires and proving the company’s dedication to investing in their professional growth.
Onboarding sets the stage for the entire employee experience.
When a new hire joins your company, the first few months set the tone. If things go smoothly, the process can improve their long-term satisfaction, job performance, and retention. As a manager, you play a critical role in the success of every new hire. This guide can help you build an effective, scalable onboarding program that gets your employees off to a good start.
Before the first day
A new hire’s first day can be overwhelming. So the goal is to eliminate friction and help them feel confident they’ve made the right decision. The process should begin about 15 days before the new hire’s start date.
Did you know?
Best-in-class companies are 53% more likely than others to undertake pre-boarding.
Phase 1 Tasks
✓ Answer any of the new hire’s questions
✓ Make sure the new hire receives any necessary technology and is set up on company systems
✓ Provide the date, time, and dial-in information (if applicable) for all first-day meetings
✓ Explain the company’s guidelines for virtual meetings
✓ Set up a welcome-to-the-team meeting
Avoid overloading your new hire by treating this day like an overview of what’s to come. Introduce your new hire to the team, cover basic information, and outline how the rest of the week will look. By the end of the day, your new hire should feel welcomed, appreciated, and eager to dive in.
To fully support new hires, onboard for 90 days or longer. Most companies only focus on the first week.
Phase 2 Tasks
✓ Detail relevant processes such as timesheets
✓ Show your new hire how to use company systems
✓ Announce the new hire to appropriate teams, sharing their bio and title
✓ Arrange introductions to coworkers and other key partners
✓ Send invites to team events
To help your new hire get to know you as a manager, block off time to talk one-on-one. Detail your management style and expectations, and answer any questions. You can also discuss the position duties and review the training schedule.
Did you know?
60% of companies don’t set short-term goals for new hires.
Phase 3 Tasks
✓ Clarify the week’s schedule and confirm relevant training
✓ Review internal processes and workflow
✓ Go over job description, duties, and expectations
✓ Share preferences and ask questions to determine how you can best work together
✓ Leave plenty of time for questions
Start your new hire off with the type of daily work that can be expected — and make their first assignment challenging but attainable. It’s also a good time to pair your new hire with a buddy who performs similar work. This can help your new employee make connections, get their questions answered, and feel like part of the team.
Did you know?
87% of organizations that assign a buddy program during the onboarding process say that it's an effective way to speed up new-hire proficiency.
Phase 4 Tasks
✓ Supply essential resources, including product information and brand materials
✓ Assign an onboarding buddy to your new hire
✓ Review the company’s mission, values, and goals
✓ Schedule check-ins to review onboarding progress and discuss any questions
✓ Design a challenging but attainable first assignment
At this point, your new hire should clearly understand what’s expected and how to achieve it. Be sure to check in, provide feedback regularly, and establish performance goals to be covered in the annual review. This period is a great time to assign a formal mentor — someone in a more senior role who can help guide the new hire’s future success.
Did you know?
77% of employees who went through a formal onboarding program achieved their first performance goals.
Phase 5 Tasks
✓ Help the new hire meet new people
✓ Assign a mentor and make introductions
✓ Set aside time to discuss the new hire’s first assignment
✓ Set clear goals for a six-month review
✓ Set performance expectations and establish that you’ll provide monthly feedback
Second month and beyond
Many experts agree it can take up to a year to get someone fully up to speed. Over the first six months, you’ll get a feel for your new hire’s work style. Let them know what they’re doing well — and gather their feedback on their onboarding experience so you can improve your process.
Did you know?
A strong onboarding program can improve retention by 82%.
Phase 6 Tasks
✓ Ensure the new hire’s workload is manageable
✓ Offer opportunities for cross-training
✓ Note the tasks and projects the new hire enjoys most
✓ Play to your new hire’s strengths
✓ Gather feedback from your new hire and share it with HR, IT, and your recruiting team
5 ways to improve employee retention
Set clear expectations about the role.
Make sure you’re clear about what the job entails, giving real examples, to help new hires envision themselves in the role.
Understand the leadership style that works for them.
Meet with candidates during the interview process to help them get a feel for your managerial style— and find out how you can meet their unique needs to help them do their best work.
Facilitate growth through learning and development.
During one-on-ones, ask new hires if there are areas where they feel they need additional training. If so, schedule that training as soon as possible.
Match them with the types of work that they enjoy.
Give new hires the opportunity to work on different assignments with different teams, so they can find the right fit.
Onboarding truly matters.
A successful onboarding experience benefits you, your new hire, and the company as a whole. So plan ahead and set clear expectations from the moment an offer is extended. It’s the best way to ensure that your new hire gets up to speed quickly — and stays for the long haul.
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