Virtual Onboarding: 7 Tips for an Efficient Process


Carri Lemmon

on Mar 6, 2024 10:46:40 AM

No matter what your company’s work model is, it’s a common practice for candidates to go through a virtual hiring process nowadays. Interviews are now commonly conducted online and the whole hiring and onboarding workflow can be done through virtual means with enhanced efficiency.

A virtual hiring process can be easily streamlined across the board. However, it requires strategic planning and execution from both your human resources (HR) team and management team. In this article, we’ll dive deeper into the virtual onboarding process and provide you with 7 tips on how to become more efficient.

What is Virtual Onboarding?

Virtual onboarding is the process of onboarding employees through a virtual connection. It’s a seemingly simple definition and process.

Rather than meeting in person, you will be introducing them to their team and role remotely. Virtual onboarding needs to cover all the same bases as traditional onboarding to be efficient while using entirely virtual tools.

The Importance of Having a Virtual Onboarding Procedure

Having an established procedure for virtual onboarding is essential. 

One of the common challenges discovered during the remote work transition is, without structure, remote leaders sometimes struggle to provide comprehensive and connective guidance. Things such as, "Here's your login and your workload, call me if you need anything." will leave new employees floundering and isolated.

Having an established virtual onboarding procedure ensures that each new hire is given the same comprehensive introduction to their role, expectations, and the team they’ll be working with. Following a virtual onboarding procedure will help prevent missing any critical steps in the onboarding process and quickly integrate new employees into your company.

7 Tips for an Efficient Virtual Onboarding

The following tips have proven quite beneficial to companies struggling with onboarding remote and virtual employees. Here is what companies should consider:

Conduct a Virtual Walkthrough on New Hire Paperwork

Every employee onboarding process begins with some essential paperwork. A virtual walkthrough on paperwork would ensure new hires receive all the proper paperwork and nothing is missed or forgotten as a result of the virtual environment. Have your onboarding documents prepared and walk new hires through what they need to sign and things they should read.

This can be made easier by:

  • Creating the new hire paperwork from virtual templates for greater efficiency
  • Pre-populating new hire documents with the information provided by the new hires during the application and interview process
  • Using software for quick verification of new hires' IDs and information needed for payroll
  • Using software integration to quickly transform newly filled-out paperwork into your Human Capital Management (HCM) platform or payroll software

You should have the following paperwork ready and accessible for your new hires before a virtual onboarding process kicks off:

  • Employment agreement (if applicable)
  • Employee handbook
  • Employment forms required by law
    • W-4 Form (or W-9 for contractors) - Employee’s Withholding Certificate
    • I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification Form (make sure you have the most up-to-date I-9 Form) - Must be completed within 3 business days of the date of hire
    • State Tax Withholding Forms
    • Direct Deposit Form
    • E-Verify System: this is a not a form, but a way to verify employee’s eligibility to legally work in the U.S. This step is mandatory for certain employers:
      • Federal contractors
      • Public agencies and/or government contractors in certain states
      • Private employers in certain states
      • Employers who hire an F-1 student who’s seeking their STEM OPT extension
  • Internal employment forms, which could include:
    • Non-compete agreement (NCA)
    • Non-disclosure agreement (NDA)
    • Non-solicitation agreement
    • Employee handbook acknowledgment form
    • Drug and/or alcohol test consent agreement
    • Confidentiality and security agreement
  • Employee benefits documents such as coverage options, retirement plans, and more

Hold an Official Welcome Meeting

When all preparation work is done, it’s time to hold a team meeting where you welcome all the new hires and make a formal introduction to the company.

This meeting can be held virtually or in person, depending on your company’s remote or hybrid work model, and should cover the following points:

  • Have all new hires introduce themselves
  • Discuss the new employee’s role in the current teamwork structure
  • Walk them through the steps of the onboarding process that involve other team members
  • Introduce your new hire to all the resources needed for their initial period of employment, including communication tools and project management tools
  • Let the new employees know how to get support and answers when needed

This meeting is a great way to jump your new hire directly into the interactive aspect of their workflow, while also serving as your standard meet-and-greet.

Introduce Employees to Communication Tools

The onboarding process is the first step to building strong employee relations. Communication tools are crucial to foster employee engagement and build that relationship. Communication tools may be used differently depending on the role, but it’s important to explain all the communication norms and expectations to your new hires and introduce all the tools available for them to use. 

These communication tools can include:

  • Company email and email signature
  • Group messaging tools such as Microsoft Teams, Slack, Google Chat, etc.
  • Video meeting software such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Skype, GoToMeeting, etc.
  • Your company’s HR Software 
    • Commonly used for submitting time off requests, updating their direct deposit information, and other self-service tasks

Plan a Few Introductory Tasks to Demonstrate the Workflow

One of the best ways to get your employee familiarized with the software and workflow is to prepare a few introductory tasks. These can be smaller project tasks or even example projects that show how the tools are used, how progress is tracked, and how everything fits together. 

The following are examples of these introductory tasks for different types of roles:

  • Web design role: Have the new employee build their employee profile page using your internal image editing and page-building tools
  • Sales role: Ask the new employee to create, process, and cancel a deal in your internal business system
  • Copywriting role: Have the employee select and edit a piece of content in the publishing pipeline
  • Marketing role: Ask your employee to create a small demo campaign using their new software toolkit and workflow provided

Provide a New Employee Contact List

Make sure your new employee has a complete list of contacts for their team and important people in the company. Let them know who to contact for what reasons and who they will likely be in constant contact with. This will help employees get to know their team members quickly and build relationships within the company, as well as seek help and guidance from the right sources.

Encourage your current employees to reach out and begin a conversation using your workplace communication tools with the new employee to break the ice.  

Assign a Mentor to the New Employees

Assigning a mentor who’s been in the same or similar role to your new hires is a great way to build team chemistry and comfortability in a virtual environment.

A mentor can be a go-to person for the new employees to ask questions. This minimizes the risk of isolation, confusion, or shyness that may cause disconnection. Mentorship is one of the fastest and most efficient ways to ensure an employee has someone they can rely on. It can reduce miscommunications and bottlenecks associated with any employee onboarding process. Mentoring also gives your current team members a chance to show off their leadership qualities.

It’s also critical to involve the management teams and ensure that they make specific time to meet with the new hires. This could be a simple one-on-one or a group meeting with the goal of having a personal touch in the process and helping managers know how the new hires are settling in.

Check in Regularly

You should check in with the new employees regularly throughout the whole onboarding process.

A streamlined virtual onboarding process allows new employees to self-guide a lot of steps, but it’s still necessary for the HR managers to set reminders to frequently check in on the new hire and make sure everything is going well.

Simple methods of checking in include:

  • Sending automated reminders to your new employee to complete self-guided onboarding steps like profile building, introductory project completion, or building connections inside the company network
  • Sending yourself reminders to check on your new employee's progress, performance, confidence, and connection

Employee Onboarding Software and How It Can Help

Employee onboarding software can help with all of the above tactics, making it easy to automate and distribute new employee paperwork and provide self-service and online signing capabilities.

The right onboarding software can also help you populate all necessary data into electronic forms with a new employee's information, immediately integrating the new employee into your environment and payroll systems.

Most importantly, onboarding software is available from anywhere using a cloud-based infrastructure, so that your newest team members and remote managers can coordinate the onboarding process with ease.

Streamline Your Virtual Onboarding Process

Great employee onboarding software can make an important difference when looking to create an efficient virtual onboarding process. When you can automate elements like new hire paperwork, benefit enrollments, and payroll setup, you can focus on quickly introducing your new employees to the important aspects of their roles and outline key performance metrics, tasks, and their teams.

Our HR and payroll software makes this possible with a suite of useful HR features that are configured both for smooth in-office and virtual onboarding, as well as tools to streamline your routine HR procedures.

Want to discover the tools you need for an efficient and welcoming virtual onboarding process? Contact us today.

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Author: Carri Lemmon

Carri LemmonC-Lemmon (Circle) has over 30 years of experience in the payroll and human capital management industry with publicly-held, national payroll companies. As a certified payroll professional (CPP) for over 15 years, she is an expert in implementing payroll and related services for employers across a wide variety of industries.

Topics:Connecticut HROnboardingVirtual OnboardingTalent AcquisitionOnboarding Process

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