Creating Exceptional Learning Experiences: Onboarding Remote Employees in a Virtual World! Event Summary
If there is a silver lining to the #COVID-19 pandemic, it is that the world now knows most people can be highly productive from any location. So, when it's time to roll out the red carpet, how do we create an exceptional experience to welcome our newest remote team members? It's all about creative operations! We've had to get creative and transform procedures for on-boarding new employees, given they are not physically coming into the office. Our panel of experienced L&D professionals talked about Pre-boarding, Onboarding, and how to transform employee experiences all while staying focused on creating a successful learning environment, regardless of the size of your firm or organization.
We kicked off the presentation with new hire paperwork and using existing tools to digitize the pre-boarding paperwork. If your firm does not have an HRIS or Onboarding platform, you can re-purpose tools like Intapp Flow, or build out workflow management using Office 365 tools (Forms, Planner, PowerApps). The chat talked about using free apps like Adobe Scan to have new hires create OCR PDFs of hardcopy paperwork you’ve mailed to them. Docusign and working with your benefits provider were other suggestions members have had success with. Our panel discussed using an employee profile to capture personal information that would allow you to make the onboarding and integration special (example posted below) the chat shared their use of surveys and forms to capture similar information.
Discovering technology needs was our second lively discussion. A lot of firms are using surveys and discovery calls to gather the information. Sean shared what makes his home office successful and what his remote office kit includes, the App Duet he uses to turn his iPad into a second monitor got a lot of questions and thumbs up in the chat. John discussed how he uses QR Codes to make access to training documentation and information - not only in his presentations, but on hardware as well. The chat debated Short Links versus QR Codes.
There was interested in how to make multiple new hires feel welcome when they are all remote. Danette discussed how her team handles that at GT, using virtual meetings, webcams, and then providing additional follow-up in a 1-1 environment. She also pointed out that the remote new hires are more comfortable when there are other new hires in the onboarding session because they are not alone in their "newness."
John discussed how he has used Welcome Packets, along with the benefits of discovering how your remote employees best learn/take in new information. Eileen and Sean shared Carson Tate as a great follow on social platforms and ATD Press for books on the subject. There was a lively discussion around how much time is spent onboarding new hires, no matter their location. No one speaker or attendee had the same answer, but managing cognitive load was everyone’s concern. Some spent multiple days of the first week, others spent an entire day. Everyone had regularly scheduled follow-ups and a buddy system.
Lastly, our panel spoke about Transforming the Experience. Using Swag Boxes to make the remote employee feel connected by sending them some items that can be found in your physical offices and not just office supplies but local coffee, tea, or snacks from the breakrooms and some branded merch or special event clothing. Creating virtual lobbies and happy hours to welcome remote employees in a platform like Adobe Connect while also going back the employee profile to deliver their favorite coffee drink, lunch, and beverage for their onboarding events. A lot of firms are creating watercooler moments in a products like Teams, channel suggestions were Meme Break, “Watch, Read, Do”, COVID, Virtual Dance Party, and just Fun. The Teams Ice Breaker Bot was shared in the chat as well.
Lastly, our panel presented ILTA’s state on Diversity and Inclusion and held a moment of silence.
John Graves - Training Support Specialist at Winstead PC
Sean McGinty - Learning & Product Engineer at Simplify Compliance
Danette Shaifer - Director of Learning and Development at Greenberg Traurig
Eileen Whitaker - Senior Consultant at Fireman & Company