The Key to Seamless Virtual Onboarding? A Strong Mentor Network and Culture of Inclusivity

TSP • @myTSPnet


Think back to your first day at any new job. It can be information overload and sometimes overwhelming but starting a new job during a global pandemic can add a whole new level of stress. Not only that, but many people are juggling work and childcare, and some are navigating remote work for the very first time. 

What’s the best way to welcome new hires to your team? Virtual yet face-to-face employee onboarding through video conferencing can be just as effective as traditional onboarding done in an office. If you’ve never onboarded employees in a remote setting, it can be a challenge to create an experience that’s engaging and informative.  

One of the keys to strong virtual onboarding is to have a strong culture where everyone feels supported and energized by their environment. Designing company culture around mentorship plays a huge role in creating enthusiastic team members and happy clients. Here are five ways to weave mentorship and ongoing employee support into your day-to-day operations for seamless onboarding. 

In remote onboarding, you need to foster a sense of connection and belonging from the very beginning. This can be done by mailing company swag to each new hire before they start working from home or sending a welcome message on their first day.

Another part of the onboarding process is employee education. This covers company history, core values, industry education, cross-functional roles and more. It’s helpful to have an “employee education” folder that can be leveraged during training and repurposed. New employees can go to this folder and watch the videos from home during the onboarding process.

With on-site onboarding, you can visually see how your new hires are doing. It’s easier to tell if they’re falling behind or even if they’re just struggling emotionally. In a distributed team, it’s helpful to check in more often with employees to make sure they’re progressing at the right pace. It might feel like you are micromanaging, but better than the opposite — having a new hire fall behind or feel out of the loop.

Remember the check-ins don’t have to come from the same person all the time. Between the onboarding team, a direct manager, company buddy – there are plenty of people who can be sure everything’s on track and the onboarding process is going well for the new team member.

Having a mentorship structure is crucial when onboarding virtually. More seasoned team members can help new employees adjust and answer any questions they may have during the first few months. It also helps current employees practice leadership and foster teamwork.

To make mentorship an integral part of your company culture, it’s important to promote it during the recruitment process. New hires can be matched with mentors during orientation with the tools they need to succeed. This requires planning, internal marketing, training and plenty of follow-ups. Ensure managers talk up the program, emphasize its importance and participate as well.

Don’t expect a mentorship program to run on autopilot. Request regular feedback from each participant and always look for ways to improve the process. Be sure to collect success stories and testimonials to peak future participants’ interest.

One way to keep the company culture alive is to encourage impromptu gatherings where everyone is invited. So often in organizations, you see cliques emerge where only select members of the team meet outside of the office for lunch or happy hour. Consider having a team lunch at a park or a virtual happy hour with trivia to keep the positive energy flowing.

Communication is also at the forefront of company culture. With employees spread across different states and time zones, it’s easy for isolation to set in and silo work. Employees need a way to effortlessly collaborate as if they were in the office together. Unified communications solutions combine team messaging, video conferencing and phone usage into a single platform. This allows remote employees to work together wherever they are using any device.

Personal responsibility is a vital component to creating a positive company culture. No matter where someone stands on the organizational chart, it’s essential to hold every employee accountable. Mentors must lead through their actions and live out the core values of the company to set a good example to younger employees.

Part of maintaining a healthy office culture is recognizing when something is out of alignment with the company’s core values. Owning up to mistakes and operating as a team are just two ways to show accountability in the workplace. Being disciplined and selfless in all areas of the business elevates the work environment and benefits all employees.

Your team members are your most valuable asset with so much to offer. There are countless ways to recognize their expertise and honor their efforts. Sharing a team member spotlight that includes a photo and a few fun facts is a great way to recognize their efforts. It’s a powerful gesture they will remember long after the post goes up.

Since your customers are engaged with your content online, be sure to spell out the employee’s role on the team and what they love most about the work they do. Other avenues to recognize new talent could be on the company’s website, newsletter or podcast.

Remote onboarding for new employees is a pivotal step in keeping a team together, functioning as a cohesive unit and continuing to move the business forward. Until things return to normal, organizations should continue to look for ways of empowering their HR teams to improve company culture in the onboarding process. By interacting directly with new hires and making them feel wanted, the onboarding process will be more meaningful.