Why virtual onboarding needs a redesign for employee satisfaction

Hiring in the current climate can be both difficult and unfamiliar, with the impact of 2020’s COVID-19 pandemic still sweeping through the global workforce. This has led many businesses to change course from considering implementing virtual workspaces to actively adopting virtual solutions to keep their team online and connected even under unprecedented circumstances. With the process in flux and its future uncertain, one particular area has been rather overlooked despite its importance: onboarding.

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Onboarding is a vital process that is receiving less attention than it normally might due to reluctance from many organizations when it comes to implementing a virtual experience–but fast-tracking an onboarding program designed for digital use should be a priority.

Why Onboarding Matters

Onboarding is an organization’s chance to integrate new hires into their corporation and help them adjust to workplace culture as seamlessly as possible. This process is not just important for new employees in their daily tasks, however, but also for their overall impression of the business. If their introduction is poorly planned or nonexistent, they might be less willing to see the merit in their work and stick around for the foreseeable future.

Related: Spring HR Tech number of the day: employee onboarding

And with the global talent war heating up as skilled talent in certain industries grows scarce, it would be a mistake to not do everything possible to impress and retain employees. SHRM and Harvard Business Review both echo these sentiments, with the former finding that 69% of employees with a good onboarding experience are more likely to stay with their company for at least three years and the latter asserting that employee retention is perhaps the top challenge most CEOs currently face.

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Designed for Digital Consumption

Consistent onboarding can be difficult when it comes to virtual employees, but the process becomes no less important simply because the experience is not conducted face-to-face. In fact, it becomes even more important as employees are now attempting to integrate into a workplace through the virtual ecosystem where they know no one and might be unfamiliar with the virtual workplace in general, leading to dissatisfaction and frustration in both the short- and long-term. It is not enough to simply send an email or perhaps a video to new employees with information by way of onboarding.

Related: Why ‘programmatic’ is changing hiring

Sally Stetson, the principal and co-founder of Salveson Stetson Group, recently said the modern onboarding process should never be a single email or phone call but rather an engaging process designed specifically for digital consumption. This means incorporating informal “breakout sessions” via Zoom and encouraging new hires to speak up and take part in the conversation as well as crafting a program that teaches employees–as quickly and effectively as possible–about the company, their work, their team and the technology they will be using. This doesn’t mean rushing the process, but rather designing specifically to keep employees engaged.

Creating a new onboarding program might seem excessive, but the reality is that remote workers are likely here to stay in a higher capacity than they were before 2020. Accepting and planning for that inevitability is the best to ensure your organization thrives.

Tyrone Smith Jr. of Udemy
Tyrone Smith Jr.
Author and speaker Tyrone Smith Jr. is the global director, head of people analytics and insights, at Udemy. He is also a self-proclaimed people analytics and future of work enthusiast, innovator and strategist.