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Continuum Consulting Services LLC

I’ve been coaching a new leader who moved her family halfway across the country to take a dream job only to discover the week before she started work that everything had changed. It was March 2020 when the work world entered into pandemic lockdown, and so many of us began adapting to work from home.

Starting any new job is incredibly exciting, but it is not easy. Those first few weeks can be filled with mixed emotions ranging from excitement and joy to overwhelm, feelings of uncertainty, insecurity and the constant need to prove yourself. Starting the journey of a new hire in a virtual environment amplifies these challenges.  As more and more companies decide to  continue with remote work even as the pandemic subsides, the difficulties of being a new employee rise. 

Think about a time when you started a new role. Now, imagine how challenging it would be if you never had an opportunity to go to the office, meet your manager and team in person, or just walk over to another colleague to ask a question about who to go to for what.

It is no wonder that as we consult with clients, one consistent challenge leaders now ask us about is how to effectively onboard and engage new employees in this new combination onsite/hybrid/remote virtual work world.

To meet the need, we began interviewing leaders and researching onboarding best practices. The next two blogs focus on our discoveries.

Photo by RODNAE Productions 

Onboarding vs. Orientation

Before we begin, it is important to understand the difference between Onboarding and Orientation.

Orientation includes the nuts and bolts of the job:

  • New hire paperwork, contracts, tax forms, benefits
  • Computers and other hardware
  • Badges and security
  • Compliance training
  • Welcome to the organization basics

Onboarding activities include job expectations and belonging:

  • Roles, responsibilities and workplans
  • Who’s who and what they do
  • Culture and values
  • How work gets done around here
  • Navigating the political system
  • Team integration

Most companies do a good job with orienting new employees. However, companies often neglect the importance of the more relational components of the new hire journey. To better understand the critical success factors for onboarding a new hire in a virtual environment, we created a model outlining best practices. They fall under three main categories: communicating the culture; getting things done; and fostering connections and community.

Onboarding Critical Success Factors

Please note the importance of ongoing manager conversations and communicating the culture as key success factors throughout the process.

One of the places we started our pre-interview research was with a helpful 2018 article in the Harvard Business Review by Ron Carucci, available here:

Next week we will post Part Two of our New Hire Journey, highlighting key practices to onboard your new staff in ways that have them feel connected, informed and part of the team.

Wendy B. White is co-founder and partner with Continuum Consulting Services. She recently launched “Let’s Choose Love,” a social movement that provides a forum for sharing ideas, resources, new philosophies and stories that she hopes will challenge, stretch and inspire us to expand our thinking and possibilities for the future.