By Caitlin Gibson
As more businesses embrace remote work and accept that it’s here to stay, virtual onboarding processes are bound to become the norm. Given that only 12% of employees think their company does a great job onboarding new hires, these virtual experiences are an exciting opportunity to transform traditional onboarding processes for the better.
What’s more, enterprise-wide communications have become more essential than ever as they’re now the key to reaching and engaging a distributed workforce. So, when creating a virtual onboarding experience, it’s crucial that you pair it with a robust communication plan. Together, they can make a profound impact on employee engagement and retention.
How to Craft a Strong Communication Plan
Ready to develop a strong communication plan that supports your employee onboarding experience? Utilize this approach:
Leverage internal communications software.
Before you develop any communications or content for your onboarding experience, find a platform that has the tools and support you need to deliver your communication plan effectively. Specifically, look for software that will allow you to run an automatic, ongoing campaign—meaning it automatically launches each time a new hire or batch of new hires joins the company—and one that’ll enable you to track engagement and results. By leveraging this kind of software, you’ll save time by managing all the ins and outs of your employee onboarding experience in one place. An internal communications platform can also make communicating to your workforce beyond onboarding that much easier.
Build multi-month experiences.
A week-long onboarding process has become relatively standard, particularly as more companies shift to entirely virtual hiring processes as well. Utilizing multi-month experiences, however, is even more effective. A well-designed, multi-month experience will keep new hires engaged throughout the first few months on the job, which is especially critical because up to 20% of turnover happens in the first 45 days. To build out an experience beyond week one, incorporate additional training and skill development opportunities, regular manager check-ins, and tools to track progress.
Develop a rapport before day one.
Before a new hire’s first day, make sure their manager reaches out to welcome them, let them know who their buddy or mentor will be, and answer any immediate questions. By communicating regularly and consistently before their first day, your new hire will have a smoother onboarding experience overall. Additionally, this pre-onboarding communication helps validate an employee’s decision to join your company, and that can positively impact the way they engage with their virtual onboarding experience.
Reinforce your mission, vision, values, and culture.
New hires should receive communications about the company’s mission, vision, values, and culture starting on day one. This is crucial because it helps new employees understand how their specific role and contributions will align with and support the company’s objectives. Since more than 70% of employees say they’d take a pay cut to work for a company with a mission they believe in and would leave an organization that lacks a positive company culture, it’s important that employees know what the company is working toward and why. So, when onboarding remote employees, develop communications and content that are specifically focused on how the company’s mission, vision, values, and culture impact the way everyone shows up to work and does their job.
Personalize the new hire experience.
As much as possible, customize each new hire’s onboarding experience to their individual role or team. Employees who take part in an individualized onboarding experience are 32% less likely to leave the company in their first six months. So, be sure to incorporate role-specific trainings and activities into each new hire’s onboarding schedule. By doing so, you’ll help ensure that new employees feel prepared and confident about starting their new role.
Collect and act on feedback.
Gather feedback throughout the onboarding process, and then act on it quickly. Many companies make the mistake of not following up on the feedback they solicit, which can make new hires question whether or not their input and ideas will be valued by the company. Collecting regular feedback also enables you to make improvements to your onboarding approach, so your communications and content stay up-to-date, relevant, and helpful. This is all part of giving employees a great new hire experience at the company.
Onboarding remote employees is an exciting time for everyone. It’s when new employees forge meaningful connections with their colleagues and start a new journey in their career; it’s when managers establish the expectations that’ll set up new employees for long-term success. So, as the workforce becomes more distributed and remote, onboarding processes will have to take a new, virtual form that’s enabled by a strong communication plan. It’s about leveraging the right software, focusing on the first 90 days instead of just the first five, personalizing each employee’s new hire experience, and making improvements along the way by measuring results and collecting feedback. With this approach, you can set up every new employee for success.