At Boomer Consulting, we’ve been an entirely virtual company for years, so working and collaborating didn’t change much for our team during the pandemic. What has changed is how we onboard new team members.
Prior to 2020, we brought new hires to Kansas City for a few days of in-person onboarding and training. However, when the pandemic made in-person onboarding impossible—or at least inadvisable—we took what we’d learned from years of working with coworkers, clients and solution providers across the country and applied it to our onboarding process.
Here are five best practices that will help the onboarding process go smoothly for your firm.
Send technology well in advance of the start date
When we hired a Solutions Advisor in May 2020, we had a pretty quick turnaround from when they accepted the offer until their start date. But we wanted to ensure they had everything necessary to hit the ground running on day one.
We rushed to order and ship their laptop and other equipment so it would arrive a couple of days before their start date. Then, on their first day on the job, our new team member met virtually with our IT team to ensure they had all the equipment needed and could connect to our cloud resources.
Whether you meet on day one or schedule 30 minutes or so a few days before the new employee’s start date, delivering their equipment ahead of time ensures your new team member isn’t sitting around on their first day with no way to connect to coworkers or resources.
Leverage video conferencing
We’ve encouraged firms to leverage video conferencing tools for years, and the firms who heeded that advice were much more prepared for working during the pandemic than those who still relied heavily on conference calls.
The first few days and weeks at a new job are critical for establishing personal connections, and video conferencing is the best way to meet with someone virtually and still get that “face-to-face” feeling.
During a new employee’s first week, we scheduled all their meetings on Zoom. We also plan breaks but have someone available via Zoom during breaks, so a coworker is there if they want to ask a question. It’s also extra time to get to know the new team member and allow them to get to know us.
Tightly schedule their first week
The schedule for a new employee’s first week can be a bit fluid when everyone works in the same physical location. However, for virtual onboarding, we recommend scheduling times for all aspects of the onboarding and training process. This ensures the people they need to meet are available, and your new team member isn’t left waiting or wondering what they’re supposed to be doing for long stretches of time.
Some must-have meetings include:
Human resources. Schedule a meeting with HR to review paperwork and handle benefits enrollment. This aspect of onboarding takes longer than you might think! We initially scheduled only 30 minutes but discovered it took an hour and a half.
Training. Schedule time for training with their supervisor and other team members they’ll be working with. It’s a good idea to bring in several people, so they’re not seeing and talking to the same person day in and day out.
Leadership. Schedule time with someone higher up—the President, CEO, or Managing Partner. This meeting helps establish an “open door policy” and shows your new team member that nobody in the firm is off-limits if they have a question or need help.
Discuss what success looks like
One of our favorite onboarding sessions is “Onboarding for Success,” and we use it for both virtual an in-person onboarding. This is an extended meeting—up to three or four hours—where new employees meet with a cross-functional team of shareholders, project managers, and sales, technology and marketing team members. During this session, different members of our team talk about what success looks like in our company from their perspective.
Based on these conversations, we work with the new employee to develop their goals for the first 90 days on the job.
Assign a buddy and a mentor
In our firm, everyone has regular one-on-ones with their managers, but we also assign buddies and mentors for every team member.
A buddy is someone who’s not in your department. They help new employees learn about company culture.
A mentor is in your department but not your supervisor. This is someone the new employee can bounce ideas off of and helps them grow into their position.
Employees have regular meetings with their buddy and mentor to help them establish relationships across departments. These meeting also provide a foundation of connections they can call on throughout their time with the company.
Virtual onboarding can be challenging if you’re not accustomed to it. For new team members, the barrage of information coming at them in the early days can feel like drinking through a firehose. For this reason, it’s essential to take a “pulse check” after they’ve been on the job for a few weeks. This gives them time to ask questions or clarify something they might have missed the first time around.
It also helps your team improve your virtual onboarding process by uncovering what your new team members might need more of. Don’t give up if your first virtual onboarding experience is a little rocky. You’ll learn something new every time, so the most important step is simply getting started!
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As a Project Manager for Boomer Consulting, Inc., Jacqueline plans, executes and manages the people, resources and scope of many of our firm’s projects, programs and events. Her primary focus is on managing projects for IT Consulting, Strategic Planning and Talent Consulting. In addition, Jacqueline works closely with leadership to oversee the company’s human resources by managing hiring, onboarding, training and development and overseeing our Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS). She also supports our Allyship for Diversity commitment at BCI, which seeks to strengthen diversity, equity and inclusion within Boomer Consulting and the accounting profession. Jacqueline also works on the strategy and development of our eLearning initiatives.