5 ways to improve virtual onboarding for growing teams in 2022

The post-pandemic workscape plays by a whole new set of rules. And as SMBs enter into growth mode with aggressive hiring, HR teams are facing yet another challenge – virtual onboarding for new hires.

Poorly structured remote onboarding often leaves talented hires feeling disillusioned, or even confused about their new job. With the growing disconnect between employees and their company’s culture, it’s no wonder 41% of them – especially those who have recently joined the workforce – are considering quitting their jobs.

Luckily, a few strategic tweaks to your virtual onboarding workflow can make a big difference in your teleworkers’ stress levels and overall engagement. This, in turn, will improve employee retention rates.

If you want to learn the ropes of digital onboarding in 2022, then this article is for you.

What is virtual onboarding?

Virtual onboarding is the process of welcoming a remote new hire into your company and familiarizing them with their role. 

Since employees cannot be physically present for their onboarding sessions, companies are using various digital technologies such as video conferencing, eSignatures, and collaboration software to bridge the geographical gap. 

The goal is to make remote hires feel as close to the company culture as possible, instill a sense of belonging, and familiarize them with the processes and tools required to do their job.

Challenges of virtual onboarding

With in-person onboarding, networking, and training, employees encounter processes that involve the ‘human touch.’ But with an increasing prevalence of remote work, these existing workflows no longer apply.

In the age of remote onboarding, here are some key challenges companies face:

  • Lack of regular and clear communication
  • Inadequate social circle and support
  • Delays in paperwork processing

This leads to a poor first impression of the company and decreased employee morale. In a worst-case scenario, improper employee relations can hike up a company’s quit rate.

5 virtual onboarding best practices in 2022

A strong onboarding program can improve new hire retention by 82%. But with remote teams situated across the world or country, how can HR teams ensure a seamless onboarding experience? 

The answer lies in using new tools, tweaking existing processes, and encouraging organization-wide empathy. 

Interestingly enough, when implemented properly, technology can do a great job of restoring the human touch. For example, an introductory video and animation about workplace culture can add emotion to the process and bring the organization’s anecdotes to life.

Here are five actionable steps that will help you improve your virtual onboarding in 2022.

  1. Start onboarding before the first day: In the period between accepting the offer and starting the job, there is nothing stopping your new hire from considering a counter offer from a competitor. 

Any lack of communication from your end risks increasing their anxiety about the new job. This could result in your losing out on a good candidate. 

Before the hire’s first day, drop an email welcoming them to your company (at a minimum). You may choose to follow this up with a chain of emails that share details about your company culture, benefits, communication protocols, team members, and what to expect on the first day. 

  1. Send onboarding documents via eSignature solutions: Usually, on the first day of work, new hires are asked to physically sign documents like an NDA, company policy documents, IT policy, etc. 

Since most recruits now operate out of a home office, getting them to provide wet ink signatures is next to impossible. They will need to visit a local FedEx Office or Staples, print each document, sign them, then scan and email the signed documents. Not the most engaging way for hires to spend their first few days at work. 

Instead, we recommend offering employees an eSignature solution like Signeasy to quickly sign and share these forms with a few clicks. Upgrading your signing workflow will signal to your hires that you care about their time and want to make things as effortless as possible for them.

  1. Give employees a purpose: Right off the bat, it’s important to set a 30-60-90-day plan. This will help your new hire clearly understand their goals for the first 30 to 90 days of their new job. 

Once they know what is expected of them, they can take on their roles a lot more confidently. 

Just make sure that these plans have achievable goals. At a time when work-life boundaries are blurred, you don’t want new employees to chase unrealistic targets and burn out.

It’s also best to plan a few training sessions to give new employees the right skills to tackle their job head-on.

  1. Assign an online buddy and mentor: In case new recruits have any questions or concerns during onboarding, they can’t just pop over to HR every few minutes. This is where a buddy or mentor, who can be called on to provide help as needed, comes in.

You could also use a chatbot to answer the most frequently asked questions from new recruits.

  1. Schedule virtual lunches and social events: Gone are the days of water-cooler conversations. Nowadays, you need to schedule time to socialize, especially between new hires and old hands. You could also encourage team members to casually check-in with their new coworkers. It can be as simple as a “Hey, how are you?” This will ensure that they don’t feel isolated within their new work environment.

As important as it is to remain engaged with new hires at every step, it’s important not to overwhelm them or go overboard. We recommend avoiding:

  • Pushing too much reading and training material
  • Forcing them to complete onboarding tasks quickly
  • Scheduling too many back-to-back meetings
  • Over-communicating via instant messaging

While a detailed onboarding process is really critical, you want to make sure that there isn’t too much happening all at the same time. 

At the same time, in the absence of office hours, team lunches, and hangouts with colleagues, virtual onboarding can be the piece de resistance of your employee engagement strategy. 

Using eSignature technologies like Signeasy ensures flawless candidate experience without the drudgery of paperwork, and helps you easily showcase your organization’s culture to new employees. 

To see if this solution is the right fit for your business, check out Signeasy’s free trial here.