HR Basics, Recruiting and Staffing

5 Important Lessons If You Move to Virtual Onboarding

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Why is it we have big “going away” parties when people retire and depart a company, but don’t make a big deal and celebrate when new hires join an organization?

For many new hires, the initial experience with their new employer is about filling out paperwork and getting the run-down on policies. Yes, you may meet a few key people and go to lunch with others starting that day, but where’s the excitement and celebration to mark the first day?

The reality is that the first day on the job is the start of a relationship. If this was a first date, there would be planning, primping and efforts to put your best foot forward to make the other person feel comfortable, relaxed and excited about starting a new relationship.

Why do so many companies miss the boat?

I just wrapped up a virtual onboarding project with the Microsoft Academy for College Hires (MACH). Microsoft begins onboarding the MACH hires before their actual start date by sending them useful information about how to “Start Strong” and successfully transition from university to Microsoft.

For organizations, like Microsoft, who are hiring hundreds of people across the globe throughout the year, creating an onboarding program that is delivered in a virtual manner is critical. It enables the new hire to access the information WHEN they need it and in a way that is engaging and easy to consume.

I came away from this recent project with some important lessons:

  1. Know your audience – Understanding what they will need to know about joining the company and how they prefer to consume the information is key. For global virtual content, short and simple email communications with links to topical webinars and key reference information may be an optimal approach. It’s important to recognize new hires will be better positioned for success if their manager is fully engaged with their onboarding. Therefore, creating communications for their managers is a good idea as it enables them to be better prepared to support their new employee, particularly for those early in their career who don’t come to the organization with a wealth of experience in the corporate environment.
  2. Tailor your message – PeopleResults has partnered with Emily Bennington, author of Effective Immediately: How to Fit In, Stand Out, and Move Up at Your First Real Job, to create core webinar content. Taking time to conduct interviews to gain a good understanding of the company culture in order to customize the content and integrate the corporate nomenclature is critical. Incorporating tips about how to successfully contribute to your company makes the content much more relevant and speeds up the process of the new hire figuring out those unwritten rules.
  3. Tell stories – Part of the customization happens when you incorporate the real-life stories of people who have successfully demonstrated the behaviors you are highlighting in your on-boarding materials. People remember stories so it helps the new hire remember what success looks like and identify with role models they can emulate.
  4. Leverage technology – The very nature of virtual curriculum implies that technology will play a big part. Leveraging technology platforms such as email, webcasts and internal platforms where materials and webinars/videos can be accessed allows for simple and easy to read and consume content. Another option to add a personal touch is the use of Voice Memo,which shows up as an attachment in the email. When launched the recipient hears a voice to accompany the email. Also consider including a QR code so if the email is printed, the QR code can be scanned and the webinar/video can also be viewed by phone.
  5. Monitor and make improvements – We are always looking for ways to make our programs even better, so after the initial roll-out, it’s important to take time to check-in with your audience to understand what worked well and what could be better. Ask:
    • Was the content right?
    • Was it delivered in a manner that was easy to access and understand?
    • Did it make a difference?
    • Are the new hires in fact better prepared and able to be productive more quickly?
    • Did it influence how they were able to effectively integrate into the organization?

It’s important to stay objective and quickly make needed adjustments so the content stays fresh, relevant and ultimately achieves your business objectives.

Any type of solid onboarding program is well worth the investment. Your new hires will feel welcomed and know you care enough to invest in educating them on how to get off to a good start and be successful within your company. Taking advantage of the information you provide is up to them!

This was originally published on PeopleResult’s Current blog.

Martha Duesterhoft is a Partner with PeopleResults,a consultancy that guides organizations and individuals to “start the wave” of change. You can contact her at mduesterhoft@people-results.com.
  • KMErickson

    Martha – I love the idea of virtual onboarding because it can be on demand – which is the reality of what’s needed for today’s global, mobile, knowledge workforce. I congratulate Microsoft on their approach and hope others will follow!

  • shelli Walker

    Great information Martha – love the ideas on leveraging technology

  • Sheri Browning

    What a great program Martha! Sounds like you guys have really created something that’s not only innovative but can be sustained over time.

  • http://www.vidcruiter.com/ VidCruiter

    This is a fantastic idea, thanks for sharing Martha! This type of program will increase a company’s employment brand and will then attract top talent. This is something we strive for when helping our friends in HR and recruiting.

    Thanks again,

    Rachelle
    http://www.vidcruiter.com/