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Onboarding Virtual Employees: Kim Shepherd Bylines in The Staffing Stream

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Decision Toolbox CEO Kim Shepherd recently contributed a feature article for The Staffing Stream.  Read the article on The Staffing Stream here, or below.

You have read enough articles on onboarding to know that it’s about much more than paperwork and training – there is a strong cultural component. Onboarding in a virtual environment has its own unique challenges and culture plays an even stronger role.

Decision Toolbox (DT) has been 100% virtual for years and we’ve discovered that meeting those challenges can be a lot of fun. Picture a process that pulls new hires into your culture and wraps that culture around them.

Here are some ways to do just that.

Hire passionate people.

Select candidates who are likely to thrive in a virtual model – those with an entrepreneurial spirit and a passion for excellence. Self-discipline is essential, but it has to be motivated. Passion shows up on résumés as awards, advanced degrees and leadership roles.

Keep ’em warm.

During the vulnerable stage between offer and start date, have members of your leadership team reach out and introduce themselves. Encourage the local hiring manger to have lunch with the candidate. If there is an office party or event during that time, invite the new hire.

Welcome like family.

Demonstrate your culture in your onboarding. At DT for example, we’re quirky and different so we send new hires a giant fortune cookie with the fortune, “We predict a very bright future for you at Decision Toolbox.” In addition, encourage them to engage by letting them know you welcome the suggestions a fresh set of eyes can bring.

They’re ready, you’re ready.

Your passionate and self-motivated newbie is ready to dig in and get started on day one. Nothing dampens that enthusiasm faster than the lack of an email account or system access. Make sure everything is in place for the big day: business cards, phone number, etc. If you need to send any special equipment, ship it well in advance.

Always at your (self) service.

If you’ve hired well, your new employee should want to explore and learn on his or her own. In addition to standard training and orientation, provide a smorgasbord of available resources, from how to access company email via smartphone to educational materials. If you hold regular trainings via phone or video conference – virtual lunch’n’learns – record them and make them available online.

No One is an Island

From the start your new employee should know that support is at hand. Use your internal messaging system to set up a “break room” where people can share jokes, questions, and successes. Divide your team up into small groups for weekly conference calls so they can help one another solve problems or learn best practices. Assign each new person a mentor for at least the first six months.

Formal training and orientation are important tools, but your culture is the glue that will ensure a long and mutually rewarding relationship with employees.

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