In our new world of COVID-19 and working remotely, managers need a well-coordinated plan to virtually onboard new employees and to set the stage for their success. A virtual onboarding plan can mirror what was done pre-COVID-19 but with special attention to the delivery of information and enhanced communication from a distance. This will prevent a new staff member from feeling they do not have enough to do those first few weeks. Here are some tips for consideration:
- Do not assume the staff member will relocate to your area immediately. They may have limitations with moving and finding housing due to the virus.
- Schedule your new hire a remote appointment with human resources to complete the needed contracts and benefits documents. If your organization does not currently utilize an e-signature tool, it would be a wise investment for the virtual workspace.
- Provide the technology necessary to allow your new hire to get started right away. Laptops, cell phones, and other hardware ensure that they are ready to go on their start date. Assign email addresses and be ready to allow access to the systems they need to do their jobs. Provide video conference software and any group messaging software so that they are immediately connected.
- Arrange IT training to ensure that the new hires technology is working correctly and to introduce them to the staff who will help them trouble shoot if they have any problems.
- Develop a comprehensive schedule for the first two weeks to include any required online training, team meetings, coffee chats with peers, virtual lunches with staff, and other important functions. They should meet with their supervisor, any direct reports and peers in their department or division. Include time on this schedule for them to read and complete work.
- Provide a comprehensive directory of staff they need to meet in the first month.
- Send swag. Spirit wear from the institution or organization, a coffee mug or any small branded items to make them feel a part of the team will be an appreciated welcome gift as they get started. Include a note or letter from leadership to welcoming them to the organization.
- Assign them a buddy or peer who can answer random questions about the department, division or organization. Learning the work and organizational culture will take time and they need someone who will shepherd them through this process.
- Schedule a weekly update meeting with their supervisor to ensure that all work related questions are answered as they transition in.
Providing tools remotely will ensure a smooth transition when new staff are able to return to the workplace. They will feel empowered, informed and connected to their new position.