We’re officially in a remote work world, and that means we’ve all got to develop solid virtual onboarding gameplans.
Onboarding is obviously an important part of hiring and keeping awesome people—even more vital now when we can’t meet and welcome new hires face to face.
Our amazing Pingboard team member, Christie, hosted a webinar to help you rethink, revisit, or start fresh with your team’s remote onboarding plan. Check out the video or read below to learn  ideas to delight new hires in a remote onboarding world!
The employee journey really starts before a new person’s first day. Here are some ways to engage, delight and build confidence in team members before day one:
As simple as it sounds, imagine if your stuff wasn’t there on day one. You don’t want your people having to use their personal computer or try to take meetings from their phone. Get them set up from the start and things will roll smoothly from there.
A handwritten note from an executive is really cool, but not a must—we’re all people, we all put our pants on one leg at a time. It’s rare to get a handwritten note from anyone but your grandmother, so sending one from the new hire’s manager or a peer shows you’re excited to have that person on board!
We don’t care what anyone says: Swag is not dead. It feels so awkward to be new, but it feels so good to have company logo-ed swag. Like Christie always says: Something soft, something you need, something you want, something to read. If you can afford it, try to get a good mix of things, like a T-shirt or hoodie; notebook; coffee cup or company logo cookie; and a business book that everyone at your company reads.
Pro tip: If you have swag leftover, or order too much, it’s great to hand out to customers, too—that’s something we do here at Pingboard.
Hyperlink to your org chart in a welcome email the day before they start. This will help ease first day anxiety. People can learn the contours of your org, see the reporting structure, and “meet” their peers before they start the job.
Have their manager pre schedule meetings – 1:1s with key teammates, time to complete training courses, etc. Add notes to each meeting so the person has all of the context they could ever need, like how they will work with Colin from Support and what to ask him about. It’s kind of like a cheat sheet! If you want to get really fancy, you can even color code the calendar.
People need time to walk away, digest, and process what they’ve learned. Under no circumstances should people be sitting in front of a screen for 8 hours a day—it’s bad for mental and spinal health.
Welcome new hires with a gift card to spruce up their home office. At Pingboard, each employee received a $250 stipend this year (Thanks, Bill!) to make our home work spaces as comfortable as possible. It’s a really awesome way to help your people be comfortable and productive: Maybe they need new art for their space, a better office chair, some plants, or whatever else makes them as comfy as possible.
A good onboarding program is one that lasts for more than a week or two. It can actually take a new employee up to six months to really feel up to speed at a new company. Here are some quick ideas for continuing onboarding for a new hire’s first several weeks:
Enlist tenured people that bring energy and enthusiasm to the place to be “welcome buddies.” These people are generally your culture champions and you know who they are.
Pre-pandemic, we’d recommend taking a new hire to lunch sometime during their first week. Obviously that’s not possible now, but you can still create the same vibe—just set up a Zoom Lunch and send a GrubHub gift card to the new hire and their immediate team to have lunch together, virtually.
If you’re planning on returning to the office one day (who knows when), take a quick video tour of the office and share it.
Make a Trello board with a list of “to-do” items for a new hire’s first weeks. People love checking things off lists and it’s nice to have a “roadmap” to know you’re on track. (Or choose another project management tool or even just use a Google Doc—there are a lot of options out there.)
Help people hear what your customers sound like, think about, and care about. It’s an amazing way to let new hires hear directly from the mouths of customers about customers’ pain points and your target customers.
Here are some software options to record, transcribe, share, and store notes from sales calls:
You think you’ll remember, but you won’t! (We wouldn’t either.) Time flies when you’re busy. So set reminders on your own calendar to check in with your new hires. Make sure to ask yes or no questions so people feel more invited to have a conversation with you. Try questions like:
What can I do to make work more comfortable for you?
What do you need help with?
How do you think we can better live our company or team mission?
These will help you get a more honest temperature of what your new hire experience is like.
Capture video and do a voiceover of the process of signing in to your company intranet, Pingboard account, benefits platform or something else vital to a new hire’s onboarding process. People learn differently, so while a Trello card with instructions might work for some, a visual and video might be better for other people. (We personally recommend SnagIt for screen capture.)
There are a lot of these out there: StrengthsFinder, Myers-Briggs, DiSC Profile, etc., and they’re a great way to help people understand themselves and their teammates. One of our favorites is 16personalities.com, which is based on Myers-Briggs profiles. Some are free, some you need to purchase, but either way—pick one that fits your culture and add it to your onboarding process.
StrengthsFinder and other work-style and personality assessments are meant to help individuals understand themselves and how they work best. If your company uses Pingboard, why not have people add these to their Pingboard profiles? Just add a custom field to your account to let people share theirs on their profiles. It’s a great way to build empathy and understanding between people and help them work more efficiently together.
While we’re on the topic, if you already use Pingboard, make sure to add even more custom fields to your people’s profiles. The more information you add to profiles, the more connections you’ll surface between your employees! It’s especially important when you can’t be together in person that you can reveal all the ways people are connected.
It’s the worst when you don’t understand what people are talking about. Imagine if your new hire just switched industries, or this is their first or second job and they’re just getting their sea legs. So hearing a sentence like “How many SQLs did our BDRs pass over to an AE MoM so we can finalize our Q4 PL projects?” might be…really confusing. Crowdsource any acronyms used across your org, have your team put them in a Google doc, and share with new hires.
This is an amazingly transparent and straightforward way to help managers and their new hires connect from the beginning. Have the manager and the new hire each write down their own responses to each of the below questions to set expectations from the start.
How you win with me (examples: meet your deadlines; give me autonomy)
How you lose with me (examples: not speaking up if you need help; not giving clear feedback)
Onboarding is a time for learning—there’s a lot of input, but very little output. Of course that’s fine from your point of view as an HR manager! You want people to take everything in and don’t expect big things right away. But it can be hard for people to feel like they aren’t contributing during onboarding. So, give your new hire an easy way to feel like they can contribute right off the bat. Assign a small project or ask for their ideas or advice on something you’re working on. It’s an easy way to build confidence and help people feel like they’re achieving something.
For Pingboard users, here’s another great tip for virtual onboarding! Make sure your entire team has photos in Pingboard so new hires can play the faces flashcard game on the mobile app. It’s an easy and fun gamified way to learn who your coworkers are.
If you have more than one new hire, host a weekly standup to check in and let new hires connect. It doesn’t have to be an intense meeting—just a “how-are-you-doing” way for new people to connect.
A demo is so obvious that sometimes it can get overlooked. Give every new hire a demo of your product and how it works. If you are a SaaS company, consider giving everyone a sandbox account so they can play around with it. At Pingboard, new hires are encouraged to make their own Pingboard account for a fictional company and are given access to a file with dummy data to get familiar with our software.
Help new hires learn how to use Pingboard and learn about their coworkers at the same time by planning a quick scavenger hunt. For example: How many dogs does Adam have? Who has worked here the longest? Whose favorite snack is bread?
This one is so important. If you’re working hard to give them cool, awesome benefits, if they don’t know about them, what’s the point? Consider even sending out a survey to make sure people understand everything they have access to, like a free gym membership, or how their 401K works.
When you feel pretty confident that onboarding is over, you can do a few things to help new hires feel successful, celebrated, and like a full-on, contributing member of your team. Here are some quick ideas:
Send a plant or another small gift as a nice little gesture that says “Congrats! You did it!”
Our peer recognition tool—Applause—is the perfect, lightweight way to wrap up onboarding and recognize someone for their commitment to the process. It’s also a nice way to give closure and a great way to set the tone for giving peer recognition to others moving forward.
Test out your onboarding experience and get feedback so you can adjust if needed. Three months later, survey them again to see what else they wish they knew during onboarding. Here are some questions to ask in the survey:
What did you like about your onboarding experience?
How can we improve the onboarding experience for others?
Would you recommend our company as a great place to work?
Why or why not?
Would you like to be a Welcome Buddy in the future?
The last tip is for you. And it’s an important one. Make all of the above easy on yourself by making it repeatable. It’s really as simple as a checklist, and we’ve made one for you here. When thinking about onboarding new people smoothly, again and again, here are a few last tips:
Document it all
Delegate, delegate, delegate
Evolve your checklist—throw out what doesn’t work for your team and add new ideas as you get them.
Your new hires aren’t expecting a perfect experience; they just want to know that you care about them. And even if you have a tight budget, a lot of the above ideas that make for a great virtual onboarding experience—most of them, actually—are completely free.