How to Successfully Welcome New Hires Virtually

From becoming champions of workplace messaging platforms like Slack to becoming ever so familiar with the unspoken rules of Zoom meetings, your team is well on the way to mastering the art of working remotely. Now that you are in the process of hiring someone new, you may be asking yourself: “How do I bring a new employee on successfully now that we’ve gone fully virtual?”

The truth is that without a proper virtual onboarding plan that has been adapted to virtual work, you run the risk of pushing your new hire away. Successful onboarding begins the minute a new employee signs on the dotted line and extends weeks and months until the new hire feels comfortable in their role and responsibilities.. The initial onboarding process is critical to set them up for success so they can work independently while remote and foster a strong bond with the team.

So, how do you successfully welcome new hires virtually? Here are 3 tips to get you started: 

1. Make onboarding engaging and interactive

To make new employees feel welcome, consider a highly engaging and interactive orientation. By hosting your first meeting on a video platform like Zoom, employees will have a chance to interact and visually ‘meet’ their new team. For larger teams and organizations, consider breakout groups within the larger chat (3-4 employees) and prepare prompts or fun topics to help get the conversation flowing without putting too much pressure on any one person.  

2. Over-communicate

Chances are this is a new situation for both you and your new hire. To ease first week jitters, managers should send a welcome email, have circulated the exciting news to the team, and prepared IT for onboarding well before the new employee’s first day. 

Along with recommendations on how best to connect with their managers, explaining who and what the new hires’ job function entails will allow for much smoother communication as they begin their projects and review instructions. Over-communicating this type of information is vital for the success of both the new hire and team. Which leads us to our third tip: 

3. Encourage collaboration

A few months ago, it was incredibly easy to walk over to a new hire’s desk and introduce yourself. To facilitate these types of interactions virtually, managers must encourage current employees to take the lead. 

To start, current employees should send a quick introduction message saying hello to their new team member and briefly highlight their background and current duties or projects. This simple step can help take away the fear of virtual boundaries and open communication lines, especially between close-knit teams and the new employees. 

For large organizations, consider setting up virtual coffee break-out sessions. Each month or week, depending on how many hires have recently joined, arrange to have co-workers paired randomly for 30-minute virtual chats. What would normally be a spontaneous instance, maybe by the kitchen or break room, will now be transformed into a fun opportunity to get to know one another and encourage collaboration.