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How to Enhance Your Virtual Onboarding Process with Learning

First impressions matter when it comes to employee-employer relationships. Onboarding helps determine how productive a new hire will be — and could even  impact how long that employee stays with your organization.

As more of the world embraces remote or hybrid work, companies face new challenges getting people up and running quickly. With virtual onboarding, you can give new recruits an informative and fulfilling introduction to your company that educates them about their job no matter where they’re located.

But it’s not as simple as scheduling a Zoom call. Let’s take a look at why virtual onboarding is useful, how you can get started and how you can use remote learning and talent development to take your virtual onboarding initiative from good to great.

Onboarding really matters.

A poor introduction to the workplace can hurt employee retention. On the other hand, research shows a strong onboarding process boosts employee retention by 82%. It also leads to 70% greater productivity.

Remote onboarding can have the same positive impact once you clear a few hurdles. . 

Virtual onboarding is a challenge.

While remote work solutions have made it easier to connect and get stuff done, distance still adds hurdles to the onboarding process, including:

  • Remote workers can feel a sense of isolation from the company and their team.
  • Getting people the equipment they need — and setting it up — can be tricky across long distances.
  • Less visibility can make it unclear where workers should go for help or information.

The good news is that, with the right approach, you can provide a virtual introduction that’s effective and personal.

It all starts with an engagement strategy.

To make a first impression that’s welcoming and productive, anticipate what people will need. 

  • Begin with a clear roadmap. Eliminate confusion by incorporating an onboarding checklist that sets expectations. Include paperwork like employee handbooks or contracts, a schedule of meetings and an agenda for required training.  
  • Prepare people to hit the ground running. Ship computers, phones and other equipment so it arrives before onboarding begins. Pre-install software and set up accounts. And make sure people know how to set up and use everything.
  • Make sure your new hires feel welcome. Give them opportunities to interact with new teammates. You can have their team leader join a personal call or even have team members who aren’t available for a live session instead record welcome videos.

Incorporate learning for the win.

Adding learning and development to your virtual onboarding can help you achieve your objectives. It’s a great way to introduce new recruits to your culture, help them feel welcome and prepare them to be productive.

Be thoughtful about how to reach and integrate your new hires: 

1. Consider helpful learning tech.

Roll out your training with a tool that can meet the needs of today’s learners. Look for platforms that help make interacting and learning engaging and easy to navigate. And find a solution that lets you incorporate training content from a variety of sources. We’ve found using Degreed boosted new hires time-to-productivity by 20%

2. Give people personalized learning paths.

When you make learning relevant to people’s goals, you show them you’re invested in their success from the start. Create tailored learning paths that recognize people’s roles when they log in. A new employee might see a welcome message followed by an orientation training module and a link to courses on technical skills they’ll need.

3. Use training best practices that engage.

Online training might conjure images of remote employees sitting alone, staring at static slides on a screen. But a virtual environment actually presents an opportunity to boost engagement. 

To make training enjoyable and relevant, incorporate several types of media from videos and animations to infographics. Make it interactive too. Include multiple-choice quizzes or other activities that require people to engage with the screen.

4. Introduce participants and get them talking.

Helping people get to know each other builds a sense of team. Give them opportunities to connect using breakout features for small-group discussions. Or run real-time polls that let them see how others relate to content. Assign group exercises or role-play scenarios to get people working together in real time.

If your culture thrives on a bit of healthy competition, add some gamification. A leaderboard showing who’s accrued the most points in training exercises can motivate people and give them more touchpoints with their coworkers.

Revise and repeat.

With learning as part of your virtual onboarding, you can help people start strong. But making that positive impact isn’t a one-and-done effort. 

On the contrary, your workplace will continue to evolve. And as it does, so too should your content and processes. Keep up by soliciting valuable, continuous feedback. Did the training keep people’s attention? Did it prepare them to step into their new roles? Survey participants about what went well and what could have gone better. Act on the feedback  to improve. With each revision and enhancement, you’ll be doing what it takes to make sure every employee has a good onboarding experience — every time.

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