Everywhere you turn, someone is releasing a how-to blog on conducting a remote employee orientation. These are great in theory, except most of them have one commonality – they’re all told from the perspective of company leadership.
So, we decided to go straight to the source and interview a new employee who is literally in the middle of her virtual employee orientation. Here is what she had to say.
Megan Kucharek just started her new role as a Supply Planning Manager at a Consumer Packaged Goods company this week. We asked Kucharek several questions about her virtual orientation experience so far including her feedback, insights, and tips that will help take your remote onboarding to the next level.
EBI: Congratulations on the new role! Is this your first virtual onboarding?
Kucharek: Thank you! And yes, this is my first virtual onboarding. Today was our corporate orientation, and my manager has given me a detailed onboarding plan for the rest of the week.
Overall, I think today’s orientation was good and engaging! It was a three-hour event that was laid out really well. They had great graphics, a clear outline of what would be covered, and clean handoffs to presenters. It was a mix between three presenters, slides, and videos. They allowed for some coffee breaks (important with the length!) and everything was very positive. They had a senior leader join and talk through their experience with the company. We were allowed to ask questions. Nothing felt rushed.
I felt like the true orientation around company history and culture went very smoothly and was easily handled virtually. I might have even preferred it to being in person!
EBI Extra Take: Adapting your culture for this ‘new normal’ is imperative to maintaining a unified, cohesive workforce. You may not know where to start. That’s okay. There’s a lot of reactive learning happening as this post-pandemic environment evolves. Our post: “Reestablishing Company Culture After a Pandemic: Five Things to Know” can help!
EBI: How many new hires attended? What platform did you use? Did you all “meet” each other or introduce yourselves?
Kucharek: We had more than 30 new hires from across the US in our orientation. We used Skype. Meeting each other was through the chat feature – the first thing we were asked to do was type in our name, position, location.
During the orientation presentations, we were muted due to size, but we used the chat for other things. There were several breaks during a presentation where they’d ask for feedback. For example, we'd watch a history video clip and then be asked what did we learn that we didn't know before?
EBI Extra Take: Before an orientation, comes a virtual interview. We spoke with five HR experts to find out how to make the most of remote interviews, both as employers and candidates.
EBI: Did they discuss how COVID-19 has impacted them and what measure they’re taking or asking employees to take?
Kucharek: They did. I think it was really important to acknowledge that this is a weird time, but that everyone is working through it.
My position is office-based, although I will remain remote for the time being. They didn’t provide specifics on a timeline or what the office will look like. My manager made some guesses on a timeline and that we'd likely be wearing masks, but reiterated that nothing official has been communicated.
Like most employers I’ve heard of, it doesn't seem like anyone knows for sure until state or federal guidance is issued. But I appreciated their transparency and acknowledgement of our current environment.
EBI Extra Take: Pivot. Turn. Recovery. Whatever you call it, it’s coming. We’re all returning to work one way or another. In this post, we explore ways the future of work could look different, and why that’s not such a bad thing.
EBI: Did you receive an orientation outline and any instructions ahead of time?
Kucharek: They sent the necessary disclosures and forms to my personal email account to sign ahead of time. This was helpful to get anything that could be completed out of the way of the first day. The first day flew by as it was!
I would have preferred a little clearer communication around sign-on ahead of day one. Things like my password to unlock my computer, my password and username to log into Windows, and a password, username, and application for the VPN. I had to request all these things, and while they were responsive, it would’ve eased any technology anxiety I was feeling to have them ahead of time.
EBI Extra Take: Employee anxiety is real. Here are five key issues you can address now to ease employees’ anxiety later.
EBI: Form I-9 has been a big challenge for employers during this pandemic. How did they handle yours?
Kucharek: It was very straightforward. For Form I-9 documentation, they asked me to send an encrypted attachment of a picture of my passport. They even sent me instructions on how to encrypt a file, so I didn’t even need to ask.
I also had a person schedule a five-minute video conference so they could verify my document virtually, to prove I had the original in my hand.
EBI Extra Take: Form I-9s are not the only screening solutions employers need to alter and maintain. Drug testing, especially for remote employees returning to the office, are an important and useful tool. Read this post for more information.
EBI: Is there anything that would have been helpful or improved your orientation?
Kucharek: After going through a virtual orientation myself, I have two suggestions for any company that is conducting a remote orientation.
First, have a “cheat sheet” pre-made and ready to distribute to your new hires. Try to think of all those things that are innate to you now but would’ve stumped you as a new employee. For example, if you use company specific acronyms, you should include a list of them and what they stand for. If you have multiple internal chat clients, which one should you use for which purpose? I feel like this will also help out your presenters because new hires won’t be stuck wondering, “What does that mean?”, while someone is presenting.
Second, because it’s virtual, I feel it’s necessary to provide your new hires a little more robust of an outline or structure of what’s going to be covered, and what’s not, ahead of time. For example, I was looking forward to getting instructions on setting up benefits and payroll. I had an expectation that something like this would be covered in orientation. I found out during the orientation, however, I would receive that information later with instructions on how to set it up on my own. I still haven’t received it, and it makes me feel like I’m missing something.
EBI Extra Take: Just as your operational efforts have had to change to accommodate for this pandemic, so do your hiring and onboarding strategies. Here are our five tips to help you recruit the right people in our new normal.
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Thank you to Megan Kucharek for taking the time to assist us with this blog. It is our mission to always advocate for your goals and provide you timely, actionable information to improve your business practices.