Onboarding is a big and often overlooked process that can leave a lasting impact on how an employee views the organization they work for. A good onboarding experience helps new employees feel engaged and prepares them to hit the ground running. Get it wrong and that employee could take longer to become productive, or worse end up leaving. But how can you still have a good onboarding experience in a time where virtual employee onboarding is the norm?
Having started a new job here at Sift recently I was onboarded remotely and observed some things that really helped create a better experience for me. Here are three tips to help you create a virtual employee onboarding experience that will get your new remote employees connected and productive from Day 1.
Preboarding - Don’t Forget Check-ins and Welcome Packages
Before I started with Sift I was preparing for a cross-country move in the middle of a pandemic. Luckily I already had members of the team reaching out to me to see how I was doing and if there was anything I needed. I’ll never forget the care package I received that contained gloves, masks, and hand sanitizer to help me with my move. It was a tangible reminder that the company knew exactly what I was going through and cared.
Shortly after the move, I received a welcome package (company t-shirt, one of those sleek writing pads, some stickers, and my laptop of course). The most interesting thing may have been the box. It wasn’t just some generic box, but one that was completely branded with the Sift logo, and in our on-brand purple color of course. You could say it’s just a box, but the obvious attention to detail and care that went into the box only reiterated that this company takes their brand seriously at all levels, not just externally but from an internal culture standpoint as well.
Develop a Tailored Onboarding Plan
When I joined the team there were multiple people joining the growth team at the same time. As such there needed to be an orderly process for new hires to understand who we were working with, who to go to if we had questions, and what resources we could go to understand overall company history and vision.
We received an onboarding spreadsheet of modules that covered Sift’s different business areas (administration, sales, product training, marketing, and customer success). Each module contained a series of suggested 1-1s, meetings, and trainings that were up to the new team members to schedule and was personalized for each individual.
We were given three weeks to complete their personalized onboarding plan. The sheet was shared and visible to all relevant team members which created accountability for everyone involved. Scheduling all these meetings could have been overwhelming for someone new like me, but one thing that made it easier was having others actually schedule the meetings and inviting me.
Without this plan, I would not have known exactly who to reach out to for my questions, I would have been way behind in terms of learning the most critical points of each business area, and I would have felt much more lost. My main takeaway from this process – don’t wing the onboarding process. Taking the time to create individualized programs will reduce the time it takes for an employee to get onboarded, improve employee performance, and increase retention.
Create Opportunity for Casual Connection
It’s hard to get to know someone by just going from one video call to the next. Sure, if you join a meeting early there may be some small talk in between, but how do you capture those unique watercooler convos where you find out offhand that your coworker also traveled to Spain last summer or that your manager binges the same bad reality TV shows you do? This is where activities like game nights can create space to build bonds with your coworkers.
Game nights have definitely helped in my onboarding process and I highly suggest scheduling occasional game nights or trivia breaks. At Sift, we have played the following games and we have a blast every time we play.
- Skribl.io - Fun drawing and guessing game with up to 12 player support. Provides a good creative outlet.
- QuarantineBuster - A variety of trivia, funny videos, and group activities that actually get you out of your chair and comfort zone.
- Codewords - Unique word game that consists of 25 randomly generated words, two teams (red and blue), and a spymaster on each team who helps give clues to their teammates (field operatives) to decode their team’s words without uncovering the bomb.
By creating space for casual, social interaction outside of the pre-work call small talk, you can help your new remote employees feel connected to the rest of your team. Whether it’s game nights like we play at Sift, or happy hours, find something that works for your team and make it a practice.
Hopefully, these quick tips will help you think more about your own onboarding process and how to create a better one for your employees. While onboarding plans help, it’s also imperative to have the proper collaboration tools to make sure you are fostering connections in large organizations. Check out our blog post on just that topic.