Create and Manage Virtual Orientation
New employees are one of the most significant investments any organization can make. As a wise human resource decision, this investment should therefore be supported by a comprehensive orientation program. When employees receive quality orientation, they tend to remain in their roles, be more effective and happier than those who do not receive this crucial component of the hiring procedure.
Several engagement techniques that have traditionally been available in face-to-face environments can no longer be implemented in virtual environments. In the aftermath of the pandemic, we no longer have the ability to host large gatherings to tour facilities and lead discussions with smaller groups. Department heads no longer have the opportunity to sit down with all the new hires in a room and have an hour-long discussion about how their department works.
Therefore, we have summed up some tips to help you make your virtual orientation for new employees a successful program.
Read our article to learn more about Creativity in Human Resources.
Creating Virtual Orientation
For creating and managing an effective virtual orientation, you must develop a design that identifies objectives, resources, and stakeholders. Below are a few steps every human resource department should take to come up with a successful virtual orientation.
1. Select a Software
The first and foremost step of any virtual orientation is to choose a software through which you will conduct the orientation, such as Zoom, Teams, Skype, etc. It’s better to choose a tool that your staff is aware of. Operating these can be difficult if you are using them for the very first time and might mess up the orientation. We prefer using Zoom as it is convenient, quick, and trusted software.
2. Plan the Details
You must have all the details ready weeks before the actual event so you have time to prepare yourself and modify the content if needed. Start with brainstorming. Sit with your team and discuss what information is necessary to be shared with the new hires i.e., it should e human-centered. Determine the purpose of the orientation and the questions/processes that viewers should be able to understand. Don’t just add pointers in your slides but also some relevant images so your employees don’t get bored.
Not only this but also consider the following details:
- How long will the orientation be
- The number of coffee breaks you will need
- How will you keep the new employees engaged
- Who will be the speaker
- Who will manage the other details
Planning out a timeline is always a good idea when beginning a project, particularly one with several moving parts. In-person orientations benefit employees in several forms. They can easily interact with the staff, clear any confusion on the spot, and anticipate workplace style. However, no such thing happens in virtual orientation. Therefore, plan ahead of time and consider every possibility. Make sure you discuss every aspect that a newbie needs to know.
You will also need to review the entire plan to make sure there are no lackings or where you need to make changes.
Don’t know what human-centered design is? Read our article What is Human-Centered Instructional Design to learn more.
3. Schedule the Date and Time
Once you are done planning, it’s time to decide the date and time of the online orientation. Make sure you join and start the meeting at the exact time given as it is possible that employees may leave the room if you’re late. In case of an emergency or other issues, be sure to inform the employees.
4. Make the Guidelines Clear
To ensure the orientation runs smoothly, clarify all the guidelines beforehand. A few suggestions include:
- Joining the meeting 15 minutes early
- Raising hand before asking the question
- Keeping the mic mute
- Having patience after typing questions in the chatbox
Establish a process that complies with the company's rules and communicate these clearly to your employees.
5. Assess Your Needs
Prior to creating your virtual orientation, it is critical to identify the resources and content you will be using. Each item should be accessible and visible to the employees. Consider checking the following resources:
- Is your LMS working properly?
- Are you logged in to your content authoring tool?
- What resources will you use to educate them for creating interactive videos?
- Is your mic working properly?
- Are you able to share the screen via laptop or mobile?
- Does your content cover all the details of your company?
Perform a test run to avoid both practical and technical problems such as incompatible systems, faulty microphones, low lighting, noise interference, etc. At this time, examine the event from the perspective of the new hires - are the speakers visible and audible, can they read the slides, etc. After evaluating this information, make any necessary changes.
6. Consider the Distractions
New hires will be encountering outside distractions that your office walls would normally obstruct. Your students will be battling outside distractions that your campus bubble would normally block out. Orientation employees who join from home do not have control over background construction or naughty siblings. The internet connection is also unpredictable.
This needs to be considered by your Human Resource department. It will be an unrealistic assumption that everyone who has joined your meeting is listening to you.
The following are some ideas on how to deal with it:
- Visual and audio materials should be matched: Present slide presentations with key points highlighted and emphasized questions stating them out loud. As a result, your program will become more accessible to employees, as well as those having internet issues.
- Each session should end with a summary: Summarize what you discussed in a particular session. You can also provide links to the company resources so the employees can access things they might have missed.
- Encourage all presenters to speak slowly and clearly: It is quite simple, but very important.
- Turn the chat feature off occasionally: You cannot control texts and emails, but at least you can tamp down on some of the messaging that employees might find distracting. Just be careful not to overdo this and stifle employees’ sense of fellowship. Attendees should be able to pose questions to presenters even if the chat facility is down.
7. Make the Virtual Orientation Fun
The orientation will be dull if there is no fun involved. Games, polls quizzes, and interesting questions can be used as icebreakers.
Learn more about the importance of gamification by reading our blog on Gamification Videos – A Handy Asset in Today's Time
Evaluate the Online Orientation
Feedback is beneficial for both employers and employees. Getting their thoughts on the orientation will help you learn which strategies worked and which didn't. As a result, you can make your future orientations or other online programs better. Moreover, the new employees
will also feel valued and heard, which has a significant role in fostering a sense of belonging.
You can collect quantitative feedback by creating an online form or quick survey. Additionally, ask new hires to send emails with their suggestions and concerns.
How to Make Virtual Orientation a Success
Imagine yourself in the position of a new hire. Getting started with a remote job is not an easy task. They not only have joined a new organization virtually but have to assess Zoom etiquette, make bondings with fellow employees, and understand the company’s procedures.
To ensure that both the employee and the employer have a successful virtual orientation, it is important to keep the following in mind:
1. Provide Tech Before the Event
Provide new employees with the correct equipment before the first day of working virtually. Using this approach, the company shows its support, dedication, and readiness for virtual onboarding, demonstrating to the new employees that you value their work and are conducting business efficiently.
Inquire about the tools that will assist new hires within their role, so they know they are being valued and that their concerns will be addressed. Consider using a reliable courier service to deliver employees’ cell phones and laptops need in advance.
Moreover, the Human Resource department should think about how new hires will gain access to the software needed to accomplish their jobs. This may involve enabling remote-loading of equipment with software that is ready for downloading or developing company-wide tutorials for an automated training process.
Check the functionality of all links and ensure that they are sent before the event. Also, ensure that the new hire has working audio and video equipment if the company uses video conferencing software like Zoom.
2. Deliver your detailed agenda at least 7 days before the Orientation
Assemble an agenda for new hires' virtual orientation in advance to help them feel prepared for the experience. Plan the entire orientation beforehand, taking into consideration that there will be virtual interactions and camera breaks in order to prevent Zoom fatigue.
In addition to the orientation agenda, deliver crucial documents in advance so that new employees have the opportunity to get familiar with the business details. Company documents may outline its mission statement and values, along with how it emphasizes work-life balance.
You should ask new employees if there are any questions they have about the orientation documents.
3. Share all company information and contacts digitally
It may be necessary for a new hire to learn about your company's multiple branch locations (if you have any). Are your Human Resource (HR) and Information Technology (IT) departments located within the same branch or different?
You might consider providing new hires with an electronic copy of your company handbook or employee handbook, so they are familiar with company policies before they start.
4. Use virtual technologies and video conferencing
Using video conferencing is becoming increasingly common for interpersonal communication with employees, and it can be a wonderful tool to promote team chemistry. When a new hire joins your organization, ask them if they are familiar with the video-conferencing app you use and, if the tool is new to them, arrange a time to show them how it operates.
Virtual technology makes sure everyone feels heard and seen and encourages new hires to pick up on nonverbal cues and body language. As your remote new hires begin their new positions, schedule frequent one-on-one video calls with them, to address their questions and concerns, and let them know you are available for feedback.
5. Leave some time to mingle virtual
Combine a daylong or weeklong orientation to virtual break-out sessions and activities designed to engage employees. For instance, you can ask the new hires to enlist 10 intriguing facts about them for posting on discourse, enabling employees to discover interesting facts about one another.
It's a good idea to pair new hires with a senior colleague ahead of time, so they can answer questions and help with smaller tasks other than those related to their roles during orientation. A virtual coffee chat schedule throughout orientation allows new employees to connect with their coworkers, HR representatives, and senior managers.
6. Have camera breaks
After a prolonged period of sitting, new hires may lose memory retention. Instead of overloading them with an all-day virtual orientation, it’s better to plan shorter days during the first week.
Another way to keep new hires from becoming screen-fatigued is by providing coffee and lunch breaks that don't require attendees to be on a video call.
7. Provide a mix of interactive and lecture-style sessions
Check out the number of lectures, breakout sessions, or interactive sessions. To prevent a boring orientation, make sure there is an appropriate mix of interactive and lecture-style sessions.
Add visual aids to ensure the new employees are not being overwhelmed by the walls of text. It is important that you use visuals in your virtual orientation so that the attendees are not only engaged but also help you make your point.
Your job as a manager or human resource representative is to make sure new hires have the right tools, support, and knowledge for the first few months of their employment so that they are prepared for success. In the meantime, you're contributing to future growth for your company.
Assessing needs, developing a thoughtful design, integrating assessment opportunities, managing resources, and evaluating the meeting are all important for a smooth and effective virtual orientation. You don't have to be overwhelmed by the process of creating and managing engaging virtual orientations. As a result of establishing a flexible design, employees will be more engaged and feel more connected within virtual orientation programs.