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Virtual onboarding

Virtual Onboarding: 7 Tips for Welcoming Remote Employees

Employee onboarding impacts everything from employee engagement to productivity. So how do you effectively onboard new hires on a remote team?

When it comes to helping new hires feel engaged and supported, the first week is critical. Research shows that employees with adequate support during onboarding are 54% more productive.

But in a remote work environment, creating a positive onboarding experience can be challenging. Organizations must adopt new strategies to ensure new employees not only feel prepared to take on their new role, but also welcomed into the company culture.

Here's 7 tips for building an effective onboarding experience from the first day and beyond.

Send a Welcome Gift (before the first day)

Want to make a positive first impression on new remote employees? Send them a welcome kit! A box filled with thoughtful gifts will help your new hire feel excited to start and reinforce your company culture.

Treat the welcome kit as a way to communicate your company's story and values. You can express your commitment to employee development by including a book that will help their professional growth. Or, promote health and wellness through items like water bottles or step tracking devices. Fun knick-knacks to decorate a home office, like a small succulent, desk calendar, or notepad, are thoughtful gifts for any remote worker. And company swag (like T-shirts and water bottles) helps virtual team members feel connected to your culture, even from a distance.

Inside your welcome kit, be sure to include a personalized note sharing why you are excited to have your new team member on board, along with a reminder to share a post about the new gig on LinkedIn.

Welcome new hires with a personalized onboarding gift

Introduce New Hires to the Team

On your employee's first day, give them a warm welcome by sharing an introduction to them on your team's internal communication platform (Slack, Microsoft Teams, Cooleaf, etc.). In your post, include the new team member's professional background, some info on their new role, and a photo.

Want to make your warm welcome a little more interactive? Collect three facts from each new hire, two truths and one lie. Involve the rest of the team by allowing them to guess which is the lie. At the end of the day, the new hire can reveal the answer and share his or her story.

Welcome new virtual team members and introduce them to the team

Leverage Employee Recognition

Starting a new position can be tough. Show your employees that you appreciate their decision to join the team with a thoughtful shout-out or thank-you at the end of their first week. Even if your new team member has only just started learning the ropes, you can still thank them for asking great questions, sharing their perspective, or simply having a positive attitude. Be sure to include specific details in your message to make it more impactful.

Recognize new team members to help them feel at-home

In Cooleaf, new employees automatically receive a welcome recognition when they join the platform. Managers can also issue custom spot awards to team members for living company core values and going above and beyond.

Create a Virtual Onboarding Buddy Program

In addition to one-on-one check-ins with their manager, regular communication with a supportive team member can go a long way towards helping new team members feel like they're part of the team.

Building a new hire buddy system for virtual onboarding will create immediate connection between new team members and help drive employee engagement in the long-term.

A new hire buddy can be someone on the same team as the new employee, or someone from another team. During the new employee's first month, they should meet with their onboarding buddy over Zoom (or another video conferencing tool) at least once a week, and be available to answer questions over a communication channel like Slack. Over time, check-ins with the virtual onboarding buddy can be reduced to once or twice a month.

Use Virtual Events to Foster a Sense of Belonging

In an office setting, employees might get to know their team members by going out to lunch or attending an after-work happy hour. But in a virtual environment, getting to know new employees can be challenging. Along with more formal training sessions, host virtual activities to help new team members feel more socially connected.

Virtual events are also a great way to introduce new employees to your company culture and reinforce company values. Even a simple getting-to-know-you icebreaker game can be powerful.

With Cooleaf, you can easily schedule and award points for unique virtual activities from our team challenge library. For example:

Virtual scavenger hunts (share fun photos from around your home or neighborhood)

Virtual coffee dates (get to know employees on other teams through one-on-one chats)

Talent show challenges (share hobbies and talents through photos or videos)

Virtual happy hours (organize virtual meet-ups and award points for participation)

Health & wellness challenges (compete in a step challenge or share healthy recipes)

Welcome new hires with fun virtual events

Encourage Feedback with Pulse Surveys

Pulse surveys are a powerful tool to track and measure new hire satisfaction. In a hybrid or remote workplace, you can leverage pulse surveys to get feedback on your hiring process, onboarding materials, employee inclusion, and more. Send onboarding surveys at key moments in the employee journey, such as the first week, then at 30 days, then at 90 days.

It's important to remember that engagement surveys are just a first step in building a collaborative and supportive work environment. Taking quick action to respond to feedback is key for a positive employee experience. Cooleaf partners with you to deploy onboarding surveys, track engagement over time, and address issues proactively.

Get feedback from new hires with automated pulse surveys

Provide Ongoing Learning & Development Opportunities

74% of employees feel that they don’t receive adequate development opportunities at work. That goes for remote employees as well as in-person workers. To ensure that your new employee has access to ongoing learning and development opportunities from day one, leverage performance incentives and e-learning tools to help employees grow and upskill.

Virtual onboarding can be difficult. But with a strategic virtual onboarding strategy, new team members will feel engaged and supported from their very first day.

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