Virtual Onboarding – Why Business Need It to Sustain in The Pandemic

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In response to the economic slowdown brought on by the pandemic, and as a way to minimize its effect on the existing workforce, most companies today have frozen their hiring process as a way of cost-cutting. Microsoft, LinkedIn, Google are examples of such companies. Also, as per a recent survey, 51% of the companies in India are planning to pause hiring for the next six months to sustain in the pandemic ridden economy.

However, freezing hiring can mean that certain key roles in organizations remain unfulfilled and fracture an organization’s growth!
Should organizations go forward with hiring in key positions? How can they resume hiring when onboarding cannot happen physically? Can they use virtual onboarding for key hires effectively?

All these will be discussed and analyzed in this article.


Virtual Onboarding: To Do It Or Not To Do It

As you know, Onboarding is critical to long-term employee engagement and retention. The lack of a comprehensive onboarding process can prove detrimental to your business. This challenge is compounded when it has to be done virtually.

A strong onboarding process can significantly improve new hire retention by 82% and also enhance productivity by over 70%. It is usually conducted face-to-face offline in a company setting. It involves one-on-one meetings with the HR, group manager, and with various members of the organization. Onboarding is hard even when it is done offline; it’s difficulty is going to be compounded when it is done virtually.

Should companies proceed with virtual onboarding?

Yes, one reason is that there are some types of businesses for whom hiring is all the more essential now. For instance, restaurants, e-commerce and other online delivery business models have geared up hiring warehouse and delivery workers to keep up with the increased demand. A key example is Amazon, who has announced that they plan to hire an additional 100,000 workers in their fulfillment centers and delivery network.

Another reason is that there is no clear insight as to how long remote work will continue to be the norm and how long the pandemic will last. It is not feasible for businesses to delay their hiring. Waiting out the pandemic to resume in-person scheduled onboarding and training, can cause positions and departments to be left shorthanded, thus leading to reduced productivity.

Also, this pandemic has pushed businesses all around to think differently and innovate to keep themselves going forward. At this juncture, when everything is successfully moving to the virtual in the IT industry, it makes sense to onboard people virtually as well. Therefore, recruiters and learning development professionals need to be proactive in hiring and onboarding new talent. This is the time when businesses need the cream of talented professionals to maintain their competitive edge and ensure a seamless operation.

How To Get started On Your Virtual Onboarding: Six Best Practices

Did you know that IT leaders such as Wipro, Accenture & Tech Mahindra have already started on their virtual onboarding journey using a blended onboarding model? While you embark on the journey of assimilating people virtually and create a high-tech onboarding experience, it is important that you keep the following points in mind.

  • Streamline The Number of Activities

It is critical that you do not allow your new hires to sit idle for too long; as the popular saying goes, an idle mind is surely the devil’s workshop. Also, holding a new joinee on the bench for too long could have an adverse impact on both the individual and the organization. You should provide enough clarity on the project, and technology on high priority at the onset itself.

However, considering the current situation it is important that you roll out the activities and training at a slower pace. Some of them might be caretakers of children or elderly and they would appreciate it if you can offer them the much-needed flexibility. Convey to them that they can proceed with the onboarding process at their own pace and in their own time. These actions can have a potential impact on the employee’s engagement with the organization.

It is critical that you remember that if an onboarding program causes the employee stress, it will hamper their ability to perform at the job and is a sure guarantee of turnover. Streamlining the number of activities in the onboarding process ensures that the new hires are put on the path of long term success and engagement.

  • Encourage Communication & Personal Connect

A great assimilation session and then a complete lull after that, will not help the new joinee in becoming part of the organization. It is good to plan a series of activities/events post the assimilation program to stay connected and create a sense of belongingness for the new hires.

In the traditional onboarding process, an employee will be shown around the office and introduced to their co-workers. This is an integral step to establish a connection with the employee and the company and thus should not be forgotten because there is no physical office tour. Virtual meeting tools can be used to make introductions, which enables them to engage and interact effectively with their team and managers. Managers can stay connected with the new hires through email, video-conferencing, and chat. It is also a good idea to create an internal social networking platform so that the new employees can share their ideas, thoughts and experience with their peers.

It is important that new hires are encouraged to use videos during the introductory meetings in order to feel connected and less isolated. Video interactions, that is face-to-face communication, bridges the communication gap by helping them to express through body language and tone. It also helps the team and the manager to convey the company culture more effectively than written communication.

Also, you can provide them with a virtual welcome buddy, an existing employee of similar rank to directly support them and help them to navigate their new role and successfully start at the company.

  • Facilitate One-On-One Meetings Between The New Hires & Managers

Approximately 20% of the new hires resign within the first 45 days of their joining. This is the result of a poor onboarding process. How can you prevent this and when onboarding is done virtually?

A key way to do this is by encouraging and educating managers on the importance of one-on-one meetings with the new hires. A recent survey revealed that 72% of employees picked one-on-one meetings with their manager as the critical aspect of their onboarding process.

Usually, this aspect gets overlooked as HR’s operate under the assumption that the managers/leaders know the importance of one-on-one meetings. However, this needs to be stressed again and again considering its huge role in the success of an onboarding program.

Today, considering the situation, one-on-one meetings will have to occur virtually. This shouldn’t be a problem, considering the fact that 80% of business leaders already rely on video for one-on-one meetings, and also 78% use video for standups and team meetings.

An important thing to remember is that you leverage the right technological solutions to automate and optimize your processes so that meetings can be set up fast, the right people can be connected and the right information is shared.

  • Equip Your New Hire With Their PC & Software

Since the new hire will not be starting their first day from the office, you will have to ship them their laptops. Before shipping, you should set up their logins and passwords, and install the necessary software. All this can be done by your employee. However, setting up systems via videoconferencing can be quite a chore and therefore, it is better that you do all the heavy lifting in advance

  • Emphasize Your Company Culture & Values

According to a LinkedIn survey, 70% of employees reported that they would leave a company if it had a bad culture. The same survey also found that 71% of employees were willing to take a pay cut to work for a company that had a good culture and a mission they liked. This is how important a company’s culture, mission, and values are to employees.

Make sure that your new hire gets to experience it through virtual meetings, online videos, onboarding presentations, and interactions.

  • Adapt Your Content For Virtual Learning

All your welcome binders, onboarding presentations, and learning materials need to be modified to be accessible to your virtual learners. You can organize your welcome binder to a PDF document to share it digitally with your employee, your onboarding presentations to a YouTube video, and your learning materials with e-learning videos.

As you may already know. There are innumerable benefits to leveraging technology and this is true even in the information sharing and learning space. Let’s take a look at the benefits of the online classroom over an offline classroom.

Virtual Classrooms vs Offline Classrooms

A virtual classroom is an economical and convenient way to impart training to employees. It enables organizations to overcome the geographical barrier and paves way for a seamless learning experience that is not dependent on variables such as the infrastructure, and the number of participants, to name a few chief ones. In contrast, offline classrooms are not scalable, and are heavy on resources; setting up the labs, renting out classrooms, and scheduling in-person sessions are inconvenient, time-consuming, costly and moreover, the outdated practice of yesteryear.

It is time that organizations to leverage technology to enhance learning. Virtual training sessions allow learning to happen anywhere and at any time. Unlike Offline sessions that require learners to be physically present at one particular location, online sessions enable access to information on-the-go. Also, a notable advantage of virtual sessions is the 24/7 availability of content, which goes a long way in empowering the learners with information at their disposal. Having learning material at the tip of the fingertips is one way to guarantee learning.

Moreover, the audio-visual aspect of virtual training has been found to aid the learning curve. As per research by Forbes, 95% of viewers retained information via videos as opposed to only 10% whose information retention was through text material.

Additionally, one way to ensure that your virtual classroom sessions are effective is by adopting a Blended Learning approach. Blended learning is effective in accommodating the learning needs of your employees, both at the time of onboarding as well anytime in the future during their tenure in your organization. The effectiveness of this learning model is well-documented by recent studies. To name, a study conducted by Towards Maturity has found that the most successful companies across the globe use Blended learning techniques for their employee training.

So, what is Blended Learning and what does it involve?

Traditionally, Blended Learning was defined as the combination of both online and offline learning. However, in these digital times, it has come to mean a mix of virtual instructor-led classroom and self-paced training.

It offers learners a series of guided and self-learning activities. The content can include, but not limited to: videos, micro-learning content, instructor-led learning, self-paced learning, pop-quizzes, and certain aspects of gamification including leaderboards, badges and the like to capture learner attention and motivation.

Before you consider training your new hires, you need to remember that giving a lot of information at the beginning can be overwhelming. You need to give the information in bite-sized chunks that they will be able to consume easily. One way to effectively use blended learning is to use online courses to provide basic and function-specific information and instructor-led training to address complex questions and focus more on engagement activities.

There are several benefits to Blended Learning, a key being that it breaks down learning materials into smaller chunks and spaces it out over time. The effectiveness of this method has been proved by a study conducted at the Harvard Medical School. The findings of this research show that a spaced-out approach in learning helps learners to filter out irrelevant information and improve their learning and retention.

Advantages Of Virtual Onboarding Using Blended Learning

Blended learning solutions when used effectively can reduce the chances of early burn out or confusion among the new hires, decrease the stress new hires feel to perform, and significantly improve their ability to retain and use knowledge.
The other notable advantages are:

  • Saves Time & Resources While Meeting Learning Needs

Blended Learning can solve many of your training woes. It can balance the learning needs of the new hires and the resources of the company.

  • Address Different Learning Needs

With Blended Learning solutions, your new hires can benefit from a level of customization that can do wonders at the time of induction. It can address the individual learning needs of different types of learners.

Blended Learning solutions can cater to:

  • Auditory learners with knowledge videos and Instructor lead online classroom sessions
  • Text Learners with online written content
  • Visual learners with charts, images, and graphs

Moreover, blended learning can also cater to the two different categories of learners like Active & Reflective Learners

As you might know, Active learners are those who need action-based activities for consuming and retaining knowledge. They can leverage features of blended learning like hands-on assignments, or practice using cloud labs. On the other hand, reflective learners are those who understand and retain information on their own time. They usually don’t want to jump immediately into hands-on activities. Self-paced training, a feature of blended learning, is best suited for them as it will provide them with the option to proceed at their own pace.

Bonus: Deliver Blended Learning Through LnDCloud To Enhance Learning Experience

Blended learning is more effective when it is delivered through an Enterprise Learning Platform (ELP) – LnDCloud. This is because ELP like LnDCloud have multiple features that complement blended learning solutions, including micro-learning, self -paced learning, virtual classrooms progress reports, 24/7 support, enterprise reporting, and pop-up quizzes. It also incorporates elements of gamification to motivate and engage employees. With LnDCloud, you can sort and structure your content and also enable your employees to gain a seamless learning experience with an intuitive design that cancels out any white noise.

Also, as you know, you need to look beyond technological training for your employee’s overall development. With LnDCloud, you can set for them a complete development path. Other than technical training, LnDCloud has an interactive courseware on soft skills which includes, email etiquette, presentation skills, time management, conflict resolution, stakeholder management, and communication skills.

For more information on Virtual onboarding using LnDCloud, drop an email to

About Deepa Krishna

Deepa Krishna

Deepa Krishna is the Head- Behavioral & Leadership Development at Mindtree. She specializes in designing exclusive talent development plans for mid-management to help them scale and take on higher roles and responsibilities. In her 17+ years of experience in the IT, she has assumed various roles in L&OD and HR.

Posts by Deepa Krishna

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