11 Actions HR Directors Can Take to Improve Virtual Onboarding

Recommendations to Improve Virtual Onboarding for New Hires

Remote hiring is here to stay, and this brings a challenge for HR directors to onboard employees remotely.

Using the offline onboarding process in a remote setup isn’t practical, and that’s why HR directors have to work to improve virtual onboarding. A survey by Gartner found that 47% of companies are willing to let employees work remotely forever.

Employees willing to work remotely - Gartner survey stats
Employees willing to work remotely – Gartner survey stats

This means that HR managers are going to have a huge burden of conducting virtual onboarding. So, how can they improve the virtual onboarding process in terms of scaling and effectiveness?

I’ve listed 11 recommendations to improve virtual onboarding in this article.

Before I get to the best practices to improve virtual onboarding though, let’s first understand how virtual onboarding differs from in-office onboarding.

Virtual Onboarding and In-Office Onboarding – What’s the Difference?

Here are the major differentiators between virtual and in-office onboarding:

Absence of Physical Presence

When you’re onboarding a new colleague on-site, you can welcome them to their desk, show them where the cafeteria is, and introduce them to their colleagues, among other things.

But there’s no scope for doing these things when you’re onboarding new employees virtually. At most, you can get on a video call with them and introduce them to the organization.

Lack of Technical Knowledge

One of the biggest problems with remote onboarding is the lack of expertise with specific virtual onboarding tools. The employee joining the company may have never used certain tools that you may be using for the onboarding process and might take time to work with them. This could affect the overall experience of the onboarding process.

Ineffective Communication

Even though video conferencing applications have connected the world in the best way possible, the experience differs from that of an in-person meeting.

For instance, it’s tough to gauge people’s body language, gestures, or expressions on video calls and it’s even more difficult to determine if they interpreted you correctly.

In a virtual onboarding setup, new employees may not be able to figure out things like what their job is or who they should report to if one of the initial steps fails.

Lack of Self-Motivation

During an offline onboarding process, the company understands the different shades of the person as they approach various tasks throughout the day.

Sometimes, when the new hires are not confident enough to gel around, their colleagues can provide the motivation.

These close interactions generate emotions and create memories, resulting in the new employees becoming comfortable with the new working environment. 

However, it is difficult to recreate their passion and enthusiasm in the virtual environment with their peers.

These differences in virtual onboarding make it challenging for HR directors to create a successful onboarding strategy for their remote employees.

Now that you know the key differences between in-house and virtual onboarding, let’s find out how you can improve virtual onboarding.

How to Improve Virtual Onboarding for New Hires?

Be it any type of consulting firm, small business, or corporation; a solid virtual onboarding process is necessary to make new hires feel welcome to the team.

The aforementioned process will help you improve virtual onboarding for your new hires.

1. Study Analytics on Past Onboarding

Prior to developing an onboarding program, you should first evaluate the existing process and try to identify any problems.

Looking at the analytics of past onboarding processes might reveal what is missing or what needs to be improved in these procedures.

Studying the timelines for a newcomer to adjust to the work environment and grasp all the procedures might give you a clue. This should unleash new insights to improve the virtual onboarding process.

Another approach to improve the existing virtual onboarding process is to ask recently joined employees what they expect from the process. You can conduct a quick online survey using online form tools to request your employees to suggest improvements.

2. Think Like a New Member of the Team

To improve the virtual onboarding process, put yourself in your new hire’s shoes. It’ll help you figure out what they need from you. And if you are new to remote onboarding, ask your new hire what they would like to achieve during their first week, month, three months, and so on.

Based on this, you can design a framework for virtual onboarding. Have the framework in place, but adapt it to suit each new team member, as they may not learn in the same way.

For instance, some new hires might prefer to read over documents, whereas others might want to participate in interactive learning and take quizzes or tests.

Some learners might also prefer face-to-face video chat to gain a better understanding of the company. You can chat over a video call and can share the explainer videos. It helps them to understand the company culture and process in a more effective way. That’s the most importance of video based learning for the new joinee. So make sure that you include every aspect of training but change it to suit each new employee.

3. Start Virtual Onboarding Early

Waiting until an employee’s first day to get the ball rolling with virtual onboarding is a mistake that remote companies often make. There is a better approach to improving virtual onboarding, and it begins well before your new team member clocks in.

You can start by sending welcome goodies (welcome packet) as soon as the employment of the new hire is confirmed.

The goodies can include:

  • Company handbook and other related material
  • Company swag
  • Something fun for their home office

Here, make sure that you’ve signed the employment contract with the employee before sending the goodies. There are several e-signature software such as DocuSign. Attrock prepared a detailed list of the best e-signature tools that you can use to get HR-related documents signed remotely.

When new hires open their package before joining, they will feel connected to the team and be keener to hit the ground running immediately.

Employee new journey excitement on Twitter
Employee new journey excitement on Twitter

4. Create and Share the Onboarding Agenda and Schedule Before Joining

In addition to sending goodies, you should also compile an agenda in your welcome package to improve virtual onboarding. The agenda should outline your new employee’s onboarding and the first two weeks’ schedule.

This provides your new employees with a glimpse of what’s to come and minimizes their initial concerns (without overwhelming them). It’s also a great way to get them used to their remote schedule and work with your team.

5. Conduct Virtual Orientation Calls

The next thing you should do to improve virtual onboarding is to arrange a virtual meeting with your new hires. The meeting should include the following:

  • Review of the company vision, mission, goals, ethics, etc.
  • Onboarding documents like the organization’s hierarchical charts and contact information
  • Details of the mentor and orientation buddy

6. Assign an Orientation Buddy

Assigning the orientation buddy is a great idea to improve virtual onboarding. New hires might prefer that an existing employee who is familiar with the ropes teach them everything they need to know and be there for them if they get stuck.

They will feel less confused about where to get help and more comfortable having someone to talk to.

It’s always recommended to pair your new employee with someone they will be working with regularly. They can begin to form a close bond right away as a part of your onboarding process if you do this.

7. Automate the Onboarding Processes

A virtual onboarding process includes multiple rounds of documentation, training, group interactions, one-on-one meetings with new employees, orientation meetings, and administrative tasks that can help new employees get up to speed.

HR managers shouldn’t have to spend a lot of time sending out repetitive emails, inviting people to meetings, or introducing the same tools time and again. Instead, the HR teams should be data-driven and experience-focused.

If you want to provide an uncompromising virtual onboarding experience, automation should be a non-negotiable element of the process.

You can use employee onboarding software to improve the virtual onboarding experience of your new hires, too. Additionally, you could use email marketing automation to your advantage here. You can use a cheap email marketing tool  to send out drip emails to your new hires daily to introduce them to various segments of your business and get them up to speed on tasks.

8. Encourage Video Introductions

The next step to improve virtual onboarding is to include videos of company personnel introducing themselves and summarizing their jobs to make the onboarding content shine. 

This will allow new employees to familiarize themselves with the individuals they’ll meet on video chat before they do so rather than studying an organizational chart.

It will also help the new hires comprehend the organization as a whole and what the corporate culture is like.

9. Create an Inspiring and Interactive Experience

Instead of boring PowerPoint presentations, HR directors should encourage an interactive onboarding experience.

Presenting the concept, discussing it, and practicing it with employees is the best foot forward to improve the virtual onboarding experience.

Onboarding should be an exciting and engaging experience for new workers. Else, it is common for new employees to feel remorse after joining a company because of poor onboarding.

For instance, prepare a few simple tasks for your new employees to complete before any real work is done. Have them complete HR forms, watch a short video, set up their company email/Slack/PM accounts, etc.

You can use your project management software to assign these jobs and have your preferred messaging protocol verify them.

This way, you’ll be able to iron out any issues or problems, help them practice using the software, and ease them into accepting real assignments. For example, for a new employee for customer service, you can share a good customer experience guide that helps them to understand how to deliver a better customer experience.

10. Facilitate One-on-One and Virtual Group Meetings

Having virtual meet-and-greets allows employees to become acquainted with their future colleagues in a less intimidating way before they start working with them.

You should make sure that the managers include a few video calls on schedule so the employees can start working with smaller groups of colleagues right away.

To improve virtual onboarding drastically, host a meeting with a new employee for a minimum of 10-15 minutes in duration, as this will keep everyone happy.

This will not interrupt much of the workday, and new employees will not feel compelled to remain engaged for a long time.

11. Schedule Virtual Training

You should also consider adding a few virtual training sessions to your new hire’s calendar. For this, you can use Google Slides for training PPTs, send them links for online tutorials, or share internal training videos. These will assist them in getting up to speed at their own pace.

Employees will also benefit from F2F video calls with their new instructors to learn about their team or department, work methodologies, proprietary software, etc.

For example, a sales manager can easily describe the steps of Linkedin prospecting, finding the right email address, sales cold outreach and preparing sales reports, and many more.

You should provide your new hires with the time and date of these training sessions in advance so they can be ready to face the camera.


Although virtual onboarding is different from in-office onboarding, companies need to make it work, given that remote working has become the new normal.

The 11 actions we’ve discussed in this article will help you improve your new hires’ virtual onboarding experience.

So, start implementing these tactics to create an unforgettable onboarding experience for your employees.

We create the featured image using Venngage

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