Many companies in the U.S. and around the world are still hiring in spite of a tumultuous economy and staggering unemployment numbers. Hospitals, technology companies, delivery services, grocery stores, healthcare manufacturers, and transportation and logistics companies are all eager to fill roles amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In a time of mandatory social distancing and limited travel, businesses that are hiring face new challenges onboarding employees joining now fully-remote teams from home, as well as those who will be working on the front lines in healthcare, retail, warehouses, and manufacturing facilities. From socializing new employees into a remote workforce to ensuring front-line workers receive the most up-to-date training that aligns with local regulations, many organizations are working diligently to adjust their onboarding practices to this new and changing work environment.
When it comes to getting new employee onboarding right, the stakes are higher than ever.
The Cost of Getting Onboarding Wrong
In addition to ensuring the company avoids missteps that could jeopardize the safety of its employees, customers, and surrounding communities, successful employee onboarding has a demonstrable effect on profitability.
Employees are businesses’ most valuable assets, and these assets appreciate over time. So when an employee decides to leave for another job or turnover within the organization spikes, the company’s bottom line can really take a beating.
The cost of replacing a single employee can range from 30% of their annual salary for entry-level employees to four times their salary if they’re in a higher level position or a highly specialized role. Just imagine an employee walking out the door carrying a pile of cash worth four times their annual salary.
In addition to the capital that’s required to hire and train a replacement, indirect costs account for two-thirds of what companies actually spend on employee turnover. These “soft costs” such as knowledge lost, reduced productivity, lowered morale, the time to find a replacement, and the time new hires need to become fully functional may be harder to quantify in terms of dollars; nonetheless, the impact to a team and the business is hard to overlook. It is estimated that a quarter of organizations incur expenses from employee turnover that total up to 40% of their yearly earnings.
So how do businesses protect their valuable people investments?
A recent report from the Work Institute found that 77% of voluntary turnover is preventable. With as many as one in three new hires leaving within their first year, The Harvard Business Review asserts that a consistent, structured onboarding process is essential for retaining talent. And there is a lot of research that backs that up:
- The Human Capital Institute has found that investing in a better onboarding experience for new hires is more likely to increase employee engagement levels, decrease time to proficiency, and decrease turnover.
- Glassdoor research confirms that organizations with a strong onboarding process can improve new hire retention by 82% and increase productivity over 70%.
- Nearly 70% of employees say they are more likely to stay with a company after a great onboarding experience.
The problem is, only 12% of employees strongly agree that their organization does a great job of onboarding new employees, which means there’s a lot of room for improvement.
Now, with a majority of onboarding taking place virtually, there are even bigger employee onboarding challenges that organizations face.
Digitizing the Onboarding Experience
In the push to modernize employee onboarding, companies had already begun to digitize their onboarding programs prior to the pandemic. Digital onboarding removes paper from the process and streamlines the experience through online portals or other technologies that typically add structure and provide useful data, while enabling new hires to guide themselves through tasks. Many organizations, though, haven’t taken their digital onboarding far enough.
Onboarding is much more than paperwork, compliance training, and a rundown of roles and responsibilities. An effective employee onboarding program accomplishes two things:
- Acclimates the new hire to the company culture and enables them to begin building relationships, helping them form an emotional and social bond with the company that will keep them engaged and productive
- Provides the training and coaching they need to start producing and contributing to company objectives
Digitizing onboarding can improve efficiency, but it’s easy to lose the essential human components that impact retention in the process. Remote employees who miss out on the cultural and social aspects of onboarding are more likely to feel disengaged and may struggle to develop supportive working relationships. And when online training is delivered in a format that doesn’t optimize for learning and knowledge retention, it may take longer for new hires to reach full productivity.
Fortunately, there’s a simple solution for digitizing and efficiently scaling the human side of onboarding to better support the success of your valuable talent investments: video.
In order to create an engaging, memorable, and consistent onboarding experience that acclimates and adequately educates new employees — without sacrificing productivity, and without leaving your new hires feeling fatigued from spending an entire week on live video calls with too many new faces to remember — you’ll need to think outside the video conference.
Virtual Onboarding at LinkedIn
LinkedIn updated their onboarding program recently when the company switched to remote work, expanding its one-day onboarding regimen to a week-long virtual program. Instead of having new hires spend their entire first day on live conference calls, learning leaders chose to spread out live meetings and virtual introductions to give the new employees more flexibility, keep them engaged, and to offer onboarding facilitators and participants more flexibility, as well.
LinkedIn’s five-day virtual onboarding program includes regular check-ins and touch points to make sure remote new hires don’t feel forgotten or overlooked. The week begins with a one-hour live session on the first day that covers the company culture, values and products, and concludes on Friday with a virtual team happy hour. On other days throughout the week new employees watch a check-in message from the leader of L&D (below) and get a live video presentation from a LinkedIn executive.
If your organization hasn’t digitized its employee onboarding process, or you’re finding that new hires aren’t integrating into your organization as well as they could be, there’s no better time than now to make some changes. Learn how to use live and on-demand video to design an effective virtual onboarding program that follows best practices to help you build a more engaged and productive workforce from day one.
6 Best Practices for Virtual Onboarding
Whether you’re bringing on a new software engineer to your product team or welcoming the newest hires in your busy processing facility, having a structured virtual onboarding program that employs a combination of live and on-demand video elements will deliver rich, consistent messages in a format designed to support the comprehension and retention of new information.
From company policies to team-specific processes and procedures, use the following remote onboarding best practices to build a customized onboarding checklist with timelines and milestones that give your new hires everything they need to get up to speed and be successful.
1. Begin onboarding before day one (pre-onboarding)
Onboarding doesn’t have to wait for the first day — there are steps you can take immediately to make a new hire feel welcome as soon as they’ve accepted the offer. This not only sends the message that you’re excited to have them on the team but also gets some of the more mundane onboarding tasks out of the way so you can make their first day on the job memorable.
- Send a welcome kit. Mail your newest employees a swag bag that sparks pride, include information that will make them feel at ease on their first day, and be sure to convey the company culture. Items in your welcome kit should be fun, practical, and informative. In addition to the usual (or unusual) swag, you can send your company’s onboarding roadmap, a rundown of how they’ll get set up with any devices or technology they’ll need, home office supplies, a quick reference card for accessing employee portals, dress code details and standard working hours, a video message from the CEO, and even a hand-written letter from their new manager.
- Pre-onboarding paperwork. Give them a first day to remember instead of a forgettable day of filling out forms. Your new employees can sign documents and complete other administrative paperwork online with e-signature technologies like DocuSign or another solution that supports digital onboarding. And since this process may be new for some of your hires, you can also create short how-to videos that offer step-by-step instructions for completing required forms.
2. Build strong foundations for working relationships
Live video-based communications enable remote teammates to get to know each other and develop a foundation of trust, particularly when meeting in person isn’t possible. Video can also help you create powerful communications that humanize the company as well as its culture, which in turn fosters a deeper connection between new employees and the organization. While it’s a good idea to set objectives for both live and on-demand video communications, less formal, unscripted messages and conversations are often more authentic, leading to stronger interpersonal relationships. Here are a few ideas for acclimating and socializing new employees who are working remotely:
- Schedule a welcome call with the employee’s manager that allows them to get to know each other and take a deeper dive into how their new team and role supports the greater organization.
- Encourage members of the new employee’s immediate team to reach out personally and invite them to a virtual coffee chat via video conferencing.
- Provide short overview videos from other departments or team leaders in the organization that give the new hire a better understanding of how different parts of the company work together.
- If you can’t take your new hire out to lunch during their first week, you can alternatively schedule a trivia challenge over video chat. New and existing employees can compete to answer questions about the company history — the more obscure the better.
Enable collaborative on-the-job learning remotely by building a searchable video knowledge base with contributions from employee-generated videos that offer explanations, best practices, how-tos and more. This provides all of your employees an opportunity to learn from colleagues across the organization with whom they may not interact with much, which helps build a stronger unified culture among remote teams.
3. Bring your company culture to life
One of the greatest challenges of remote onboarding is communicating the beliefs and values that underpin the ways in which people at your organization work together. Words alone aren’t enough to convey the nuances of company culture — it’s the actions and interactions between employees that really define a culture. When it comes to introducing new hires to your organization’s culture, it’s important to show it through video.
- Start with a virtual tour, but instead of a virtual office tour it’s a tour of your company’s history, as told by company leaders who give context to the origins of your values and culture.
- Share recordings of your company’s most recent all-hands meetings so new employees can get a feel for how you celebrate your people and what it’s like to communicate with executives during Q&A.
- Is there a team that achieved a big goal recently? Organize a video call to discuss what went well and even where they struggled. Be sure to record the meeting and then edit it down to highlight the key points. You now have a great way to show new hires how work gets done.
- Ask employees with varying tenures at your organization to record a one to two-minute video explainer describing your company culture in their own words.
- If you have employee resource groups, ask each group to create a video overview describing their mission and vision — new hires can get a stronger sense for the values the people in your company live and breathe every day and find groups with which they’d like to connect.
Stanley Young of NYSE Technology discusses how he used Panopto to retain valuable employees and to develop a unified culture across his global organization:
4. Show how things work
New employees generally come into a role with some level of experience or expertise. The goal of onboarding isn’t to train them on skills in which they may be lacking — it’s to ensure they know how to use the tools and technologies they’ll need to do their job and how to find information when they need it. With on-demand video training you can provide engaging self-guided onboarding resources that deliver consistent and accurate training, without pulling managers and other employees away from work. Here are a few examples of “how things work” videos for employee onboarding:
- Create an on-demand series of microlearning videos that shows how to use various systems and technologies, particularly those that are critical for their role.
- Requesting time off, an overview of the employee handbook, email best practices, security and compliance training — record a quick presentation that covers anything your new hires need to know and include links or a playlist in your onboarding checklist.
- Show new hires how to find information when they need it. Here you can cover your organization’s best practices for internal communication channels, scheduling meetings, and peer-to-peer learning. You’ll also want to show them where to search text documents, videos, and meeting recordings and other just-in-time learning resources that may offer immediate answers to their questions.
- When an employee leaves the company, have them spend their last week recording any information they think will help the next person in their role. When a new employee starts (or if someone gets promoted internally), they’ll have a virtual face-to-face handoff from their predecessor waiting for them.
Watch an employee benefits walk-through video:
Panopto’s video communication and training tools make it possible for anyone in your organization to record learning optimized video tutorials that can be watched from anywhere, on any device. Record a facecam video next to a screen recording and presentation slides (if you have them) to capture an engaging multi-camera walkthrough in the same time it takes to show the process or system. For the new hire, it’s like looking over their coworker’s shoulder in the office.
Panopto Express, our free video and screen recorder, is the easiest way to capture and share knowledge at work. Record and share multi-stream videos from your browser. Give it a try!
Panopto automatically uploads recordings to your secure corporate video library where information can be found with a simple keyword search. Every word spoken and shown in a video in Panopto is searchable, just like your email messages, so even if a detail is forgotten during onboarding, it can be easily found and watched again later.
5. Define success and how you measure it
Effective onboarding programs set clear expectations for new hires in terms of both their starting role at the company and their opportunities for growth and advancement. In addition to planting the seed for building a long-term career at your company, communicating clear goals and measures of success reinforces what kind of work your company values. For remote teams that have a great deal of autonomy and flexibility, it could not be more imperative to make sure new hires are aligned on team and company priorities so they can work independently to contribute and innovate to the best of their ability.
- If your organization has established a set of leadership principles or core values, you can bring those to life in a video that not only explains each of those principles but also provides specific examples, highlighting employees who have demonstrated those principles recently.
- Managers should schedule weekly one-on-one video conferences with their newest employees to define goals and expectations, and to check in on their onboarding progress, providing and listening to feedback along the way. With a remote employee it’s a good practice to do daily check-in meetings during their first week.
- Communicate your organization’s review process and information about additional compensation if applicable. This can be presented live or on-demand — either way you’ll want to ensure your new hire has an opportunity to ask questions.
- Set up new hires with a mentor who has developed their career within the company and is committed to meeting over video chat at least once a month to provide career development support and feedback.
6. Create a searchable, virtual video directory of employees
With teams scattered across different parts of the world and many remote employees working from their individual homes, your new hires may never get to meet many of the amazing people working hard for your organization, and vice versa.
Here at Panopto, new hires record their own video introduction at the end of their first week, which then gets shared with everyone in the company. It’s something we’ve been doing since our once-small startup began growing more than 13 years ago. And now, with teams in Seattle, Pittsburgh, London, Hong Kong, and Sydney, everyone in the company learns a little about the newest hire, who gets to tell their story in their own words.
The result of capturing over a decade of employee intro videos is a video directory of everyone in the company. Employee introduction videos are all uploaded to Panopto’s corporate video library, where all it takes is a quick search to get to know a new face and a little about who they are. Over the years, our employee intro videos have organically become 2-3 minute videos where people share details about their previous work experiences, hobbies, pets, families, favorite sports teams, musical interests, and more. Some videos are even a veritable time machine for our more tenured people!
Watch an employee introduction video from our own library:
Overcome your toughest remote work challenges with Panopto
Panopto provides a more flexible solution for efficient virtual communication and training that brings the benefits of working in the head office to your remote teams. From company policies to team-specific processes and procedures, Panopto makes it easy for managers, trainers, subject matter experts, and even new hires themselves to record, share, and search for on-demand videos.
It’s more than an employee onboarding solution. With Panopto, you can maximize the productivity of your remote workforce and improve the flow of information at scale so your business can be more innovative, agile, and profitable than ever before.
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