“This is our new normal. Now what?”

During the second edition of our Bridge Over Troubled Waters: Virtual Onboarding During COVID-19 webinar, featured guest Tunde Kolarinwa posed this question. Nearly overnight, the vast majority of the workforce went virtual. Companies had adapt, and bringing on new employees has presented a distinct challenge.

Tunde’s answer to his question: act fast, but do so with a values-based, empathetic approach that cultivates connectivity.

Tunde and webinar host Kristen Lampert discussed a number of other helpful virtual onboarding insights during the webinar, and we’ve included the top six takeaways below.

Know What Language to Speak When Cultivating Buy-In

Most, if not all, onboarding activities now must occur virtually. If your company is averse to change, cultivating buy-in around a shift to virtual onboarding could be difficult. When communicating new processes, know what language to speak. If you’re speaking to someone who deals in numbers and analytics, provide them with statistics on how you can improve onboarding times and productivity. If you’re speaking with someone who communicates more emotionally, provide case studies that personify the benefits of virtual onboarding practices.

Use Your Values as a North Star

Your corporate values define you as an organization, so use them to define your virtual onboarding process. If you say you’re nimble, take a flexible, understanding approach to onboarding. If you say your transparent, be sure to maintain open, frequent communications when bringing on new employees. Your values will help you create a new onboarding plan, and taking a values-forward approach will help new employees connect with your mission.

Collaborate with Cross-Sections of Your Organization

Onboarding processes shouldn’t be designed by only your HR department and hiring managers. To cultivate a holistic, comprehensive onboarding approach, a highly diverse set of individuals should provide input into onboarding. Involving employees and leaders from across your company ensures that no gaps exist when bringing on new employees. It also provides engagement and accountability to a wider set of individuals, which helps create buy-in and establish long-term success.

It’s About the Employee

As a hiring manager, you should not ask how easy the virtual onboarding process will be for you. Instead, consider how easy it is for the new employee. Taking an empathetic approach will show your new hires that you care about them and that your company is a good one to work for. To help make new hires comfortable during onboarding, provide them with detailed guides that outline all the activities and meetings in the coming days and weeks. Consider pairing new hires with peer mentors – a non-managerial colleague – who can act as a personal resource to help new employees get comfortable.

In Week One, Productivity Isn’t Everything

A new employee’s first week should be focused on connectivity, not productivity. In week one, prioritize relationship building with the team and organization. Schedule face-to-face interactions virtually. Encourage teammates and company leaders to reach out personally to new hires to welcome them. In the employee’s first three days, call them at the end of the day to check in and discuss any questions or concerns.

Prepare Hiring Managers to Manage Virtually

The shift to virtual work presents a major change for hiring managers, who are a critical piece in effectively onboarding new hires. Prepare hiring managers for success by providing them with a curriculum on how to manage remotely. Assemble tips on how to use company technology to connect with employee’s virtually. Provide insights into what platforms can be used to manage productivity and project management. Give suggestions on fun team-building activities. Most importantly, deliver guidance on how to manage employees with a values-centric approach.

We realize that we’re all adapting to significant change right now, and we hope these insights help you successfully navigate these trying times. If you’d like more information into how to better engage and manage your workforce, visit the TalentRise Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

If you have more questions about virtual onboarding, don’t hesitate to connect with Kristen Lampert, the webinar’s host, on LinkedIn. You can also connect with the webinar’s featured guest, Tunde Kolarinwa, on LinkedIn.