Culture 22nd January 2021

Can virtual onboarding attract top talent?

Joining an organisation can be both daunting and exhilarating.

However, when new and future recruits are unable to meet their colleagues face-to-face or even get a feel for what their physical office space might look like – especially during a global crisis – can they really get to know their company and be a part of the team?

The truth is, they absolutely can. That’s because – when it’s done right – hiring and settling in a talented individual exclusively online can help to break down any ‘formal’ barriers. It also provides a more time and cost-efficient process for both parties and takes away any issues that might occur from commuting.

This is, of course, all on the basis that the correct planning has been completed beforehand, and there is a structure in place that is agile enough to welcome a new recruit into the team seamlessly – even when they’ve never stepped foot into the office.

Now known as ‘virtual onboarding’, this way of embedding a colleague provides an alternative option for many organisations that are continuing to navigate the pressures that come with growing a business during a pandemic – and beyond.

For several modern-day firms, they’re exploring fresh and exciting ways in which they not only attract the brightest talent but retain their future services too. And virtual onboarding can play a pivotal role in driving many employment models forward, as a result.

That’s because a technology-first approach presents so many opportunities for employees that want to work flexibly and remotely – or via a hybrid mix of an office and home setting.

From an enterprise’s point of view, it widens the talent pool geographically and – if they’ve hired effectively – means that new additions can operate autonomously and settle in quickly to a supportive team culture.

Easing any ‘first day’ nerves

In the first few moments at a new firm, employees are typically looking to understand internal operations swiftly, get to know their colleagues and hit the ground running in a positive way.

And with technology enabling that process to all be done virtually, this can help individuals feel as though they’re receiving as good – if not better – of a welcome compared to stepping foot into the physical office for the first time.

Utilising video conferencing tools can ensure communication remains a high priority and any questions that a new employee has, can be made without vast disruption, or spending the time booking a meeting room to have a quiet conversation.

Speaking to colleagues can be made into more of a social event too – such as a virtual coffee morning – to avoid any intimidating, more ‘formal’ gatherings. And by inviting people into instant messaging groups and apps, these can all enhance the virtual onboarding process even further.

Creating leaders throughout the workforce

On the other side of the coin, a digital-first approach to talent recruitment can also empower existing members of the team. Encouraging them to host their own specialist sessions for a new recruit – whether social media, HR, or software demonstrations – can all help the workforce dynamic and upskill everyone as a result.

All of these elements form a critical part of a successful virtual onboarding process – and this can often only take days and weeks online rather than months and years to achieve in person.

And when things can be done seamlessly and swiftly, that means new additions can begin to add value as quickly as possible – and with that comes trust, loyalty, and employee ‘buy-in’ of an enterprise’s core values – because they feel like they’re being supported and motivated throughout.

Of course, virtual onboarding can take more planning and structure than when it’s done in a face-to-face environment. For example, employees who have joined a team and only operated online will require everything in place beforehand so they can truly hit the ground running from their first day. That means providing laptops, work phones, IT security software and passwords.

Ultimately, it’s about engaging with new staff, encouraging the wider team to get involved, and being flexible and communicative throughout. Providing an alternative, agile way to embed a recruit can open up more doors to attract a wider talent pool, and could help firms take a huge leap forward when it comes to tackling the ongoing technological skills shortage.

This article first appeared in We Are Tech Women 

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