Skip to main content

When organizations around the country acted quickly to help employees work from their homes at the start of COVID-19, most believed the situation would be temporary. But as the virus has played out and continues to impact many organizations around the country—and around the globe—organizations have found themselves having to modify standard practices to operate in a “new normal.”

Onboarding is just one example. Traditionally, organizations would onboard employees through employee orientation activities that typically took place on-site in face-to-face settings. While some organizations might have had elements of onboarding available online—like various required training videos—few were set up to handle entirely remote onboarding.

But that was then; this is now. Over the past several months, and now moving into a year, employers, learning and development (L&D) professionals, HR staff and hiring managers have learned to adjust their onboarding activities to a remote environment.  

Using Zoom for Onboarding Remote Employees

Ronnie Felder is Global Chief People Officer at VMLY&R. “Now, even more than before, we must be intentional in how we connect every new hire into the company emotionally, socially and professionally,” says Felder. The traditional two-day “immersive program” used by VMLY&R was quickly transitioned to a virtual model, he says. “We created a space with virtual welcoming kits and an onboarding curriculum.” Members of the leadership team were assigned to welcome every new employee.

Technology has become a critical part of this process. “You can no longer rely on showing them the ropes by letting them follow you around and shadow you like we might in the past,” Felder says.

Zoom has become a go-to solution as companies around the country find themselves onboarding employees remotely. And as more and more organizations are learning that remote work may remain a viable option for the future, virtual onboarding will continue to be part of many firms’ onboarding processes.

But corporate trainers, L&D professionals, HR leaders and managers need to ensure that they’re using Zoom in ways that are engaging. Zoom fatigue has been recognized by the Psychiatric Times as a very real malady. “Zoom fatigue is widely prevalent, intense, and completely new,” they said.

Fortunately, there are ways to address and minimize the potential for Zoom fatigue. Here we share “The 3 Best Ways to Make Zoom Onboarding More Engaging for Remote Employees.”

1. Mix Your Zoom Onboarding Up

While the typical “faces in boxes” grid is what many think of when they think of today’s online interactions, Class makes this format just one of many options that can be used during remote onboarding.

In addition, it’s important to remember that onboarding isn’t just a one-time event. Training takes place over time and requires a variety of approaches to ensure employee engagement.

Jim Link, CHRO with Randstad North America, says: “Remote onboarding requires much more than attending virtual training and sharing a digital copy of the company handbook.” Onboarding should always be paced, he says—it’s not a one-and-done event, but a process.

In addition, when hiring remote workers, Link says, “it’s particularly important not to overwhelm them with information too quickly. Space out virtual training and exercises and give new hires some free time during the day to absorb the information and ask questions.”

Setting up new hires to have virtual coffee meetings with various staff members or hosting social activities via Zoom with small groups can also help new employees feel more integrated with the rest of the team and give existing employees a chance to get to know and feel more comfortable with their new colleagues,” Link says. 

zoom onboarding

2. Give Employees Some Control

Rich Mortimer is Chief People Officer at Egress. “Above and beyond normal onboarding procedures—which should still continue via video conferencing—HR needs to be intentionally available and more deliberate about communicating with employees, new and old, far more than in the traditional office environment,” says Mortimer. “For a promising new team member, working alone at their dining room table is a very different experience than sitting next to colleagues in an office.”

Giving employees some control over their remote onboarding and online employee training can help. That may mean offering them the opportunity to reach out and interact with HR professionals and hiring managers outside of regularly scheduling onboarding activities.

Class allows these impromptu interactions to easily take place, helping to approximate the real-world onboarding experience where employees have the ability to casually interact with others when they need to. “HR and hiring managers need to keep reminding themselves what life would be like for them if they joined the company and were working 100% remotely,” Mortimer says. 

3. Have Some Fun with Remote Onboarding

Prior to the pandemic, new employees were able to make social connections and meet new colleagues at social events like happy hours, team sporting events and other in-person settings. These opportunities have been diminished during the virus. That doesn’t mean that opportunities for socialization can’t take place, though. Zoom can enable these interactions between in-office and remote employees.

Felder has used a variety of virtual team ice breaker ideas to boost employee engagement during remote onboarding. “Activities such as virtual happy hours, online trivia nights, company meetings with open text-chat can help form natural connections, ones that once happened walking down the hallway in the office,” he says.

Be careful here, though, Link advises. “Ensuring onboarding materials are consistent with the style of the company will help new hires get a sense of the culture. For example, companies with a more formal culture should avoid setting the wrong tone with comedic training videos,” he says.

Class takes Zoom onboarding and employee engagement to the next level, making it the perfect choice for companies to ensure that their remote onboarding efforts work to boost engagement and help employees get up to speed, and socially connected, quickly. The best practices above can help to ensure that these experiences go beyond “faces in boxes” to approximate the real-world settings that many crave these days.