Virtual Onboarding: 10 Tips for Welcoming Remote Employees

Virtual Onboarding: 10 Tips for Welcoming Remote Employees

Employee onboarding impacts everything from employee engagement to productivity. So how do you effectively onboard new hires on a remote team?

Virtual Onboarding: 10 Tips for Welcoming Remote Employees

When it comes to helping new hires feel engaged and supported, the first week is critical. Research shows that employees with adequate support during onboarding are 54% more productive as new hires.

But in a remote work environment, creating a positive onboarding experience can be challenging. Organizations must adopt new strategies to create an effective onboarding process that ensures new employees not only feel prepared to take on their new role but also welcomed into the company culture.

Here are 10 tips for building an effective onboarding experience from the first day and beyond.

1. Send a Welcome Gift (before the first day)

Want to make a positive first impression on new remote employees? Send them a welcome kit! A box filled with thoughtful gifts will help your new hire feel excited to start and reinforce your company culture.

Treat the welcome kit as a way to communicate your company's story and values. You can express your commitment to employee development by including a book that will help their professional growth. Or, promote health and wellness through gifts like water bottles or step-tracking devices. Fun knick-knacks to decorate a home office, like a small succulent, desk calendar, or notepad, also make ideal gifts for any remote worker.

Along with your welcome kit, be sure to include a note sharing why you are excited to have them on board, along with a reminder to share a post about their new job on LinkedIn.

And don't forget the company swag! In Cooleaf, you can choose gifts from your Custom Catalog, like branded company merchandise, to send to new hires automatically.

Virtual hiring for remote teams.

2. Introduce New Hires to the Team

On your employee's first day, give them a warm welcome by sharing an introduction to them on your team's internal communication platform (Slack, Microsoft Teams, etc.). In your post, you include more information on the new team member's professional background, what team they'll be joining, and a photo.

Try using a platform like Cooleaf that will seamlessly integrate with Slack, MS Teams, Okta, Zapier, Workday, and others so that your team can interact and say “welcome!” no matter where you communicate.

If you want to make your warm welcome a little more interactive, collect three facts from each new hire; two truths and one lie. Involve the rest of the team by allowing them to guess which is the lie in the post comments. At the end of the day, the new hire can comment to reveal the answer and share his or her story.

Welcome new virtual team members and introduce them to the team
A welcome message from a team manager on Cooleaf! Coworkers can comment and react to make a welcome post extra special.

3. Leverage Employee Recognition

Starting a new position can be tough, so recognizing your new remote team member can go a long way toward making them feel at home. Show your employees that you appreciate their decision to join the team with a thoughtful shout-out or thank-you at the end of their first week.

Be sure to include specific details in your message to make it more impactful. Even if your new team member has only just started learning the ropes, you can still thank them for asking great questions, sharing their perspective, or simply having a positive attitude

In Cooleaf, you can recognition can be linked to custom awards for new hires, such as the "Welcome Aboard" award. New employees automatically receive this award when they are added to your Cooleaf platform. You can also send spot awards to employees for living your core values and going above and beyond.

Recognize new team members to help them feel at-home
In Cooleaf, new employees automatically receive a welcome recognition when they join the platform!

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4. Create a Virtual Onboarding Buddy Program

In addition to one-on-one check-ins with their manager, regular communication with a supportive team member can go a long way toward helping new team members feel like they're part of the team.

Building a new hire buddy system for virtual onboarding will create an immediate connection between new team members and help drive employee engagement in the long term.

A new hire buddy can be someone on the same team as the new employee or someone from a different team. During the new employee's first month, they should meet with them over Zoom (or another video conferencing tool) at least once a week, and be available to answer questions. Over time, check-ins with the virtual onboarding buddy can be reduced to once or twice a month.

Downloadable Remote Onboarding Checklist

Download our free Remote Onboarding Checklist PDF by filling out the form below. You’ll get a printable onboarding checklist to assist in ensuring the remote onboarding process goes smoothly for everyone.

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5. Use Virtual Events to Foster a Sense of Belonging

In an office setting, employees might get to know their team members by going out to lunch or attending an after-work happy hour. But in a virtual environment, getting to know new employees can be challenging. Along with more formal training sessions, host virtual activities to help new team members feel more socially connected.

Virtual events are also a great way to introduce new employees to your company culture and reinforce company values. Even a simple getting-to-know-you icebreaker game can be powerful.

With Cooleaf, you can easily schedule and award points for unique virtual activities from our team challenge library. For example:

  • Virtual scavenger hunts (share fun photos from around your home or neighborhood)
  • Virtual coffee dates (get to know employees on other teams through one-on-one chats)
  • Talent show challenges (share hobbies and talents through photos or videos)
  • Virtual happy hours (organize virtual meet-ups and award points for participation)
  • Health & wellness challenges (compete in a step challenge or share healthy recipes)
Virtual onboarding for remote employees.

6. Encourage Feedback with Pulse Surveys

Pulse surveys are a powerful tool to track and measure new hire satisfaction. In a hybrid or remote workplace, you can leverage pulse surveys to get feedback on your hiring process, onboarding materials, employee inclusion, and more. Send onboarding surveys at key moments in the employee journey, such as the first week, then at 30 days, then at 90 days.

Engagement surveys should be a critical part of your employee onboarding checklist. However, it's important to remember that surveys are just a first step. Taking quick action to respond to feedback is key for a positive employee experience.

Cooleaf partners with you to deploy onboarding surveys, track engagement over time, and address issues proactively.

Track activity participation and collect timely employee feedback with Cooleaf's best-in-class suite of survey tools

7. Provide Ongoing Learning & Development Opportunities

74% of employees feel that they don’t receive adequate development opportunities at work. That goes for remote employees as well as in-person workers. To ensure that your new employee has access to ongoing learning and development opportunities from day one, leverage performance incentives and e-learning tools to help employees grow and upskill. Not only will it lead to happier employees, but over time, it will increase your employee retention as well.

Virtual onboarding can be difficult. But with a strategic virtual onboarding strategy, new team members will feel engaged and supported from their very first day.

Get your company culture wellness ready for new hires with Cooleaf's free Wellbeing Checklist!

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8. Host a Virtual Welcome Lunch

Just because you’re not in an office together, that doesn’t mean that you can’t spend your first lunch hour as a team!

Delivery services like Grubhub, Caviar, Uber Eats, and catering services are excellent for planning something special for your team’s first lunch. Have your human resources team schedule a meal delivery well in advance to your new hires, then put a time on the calendar for everyone to join a video call on Zoom or Google Meet.

If you’d rather give your team the chance to plan their own meal, meal service gift cards are easily accessible via Cooleaf, and allow team members to choose their own delivery service.

Make it a time to kick back by encouraging folks to go camera-off and come back on once they’ve eaten. You can play music while everyone chows down and kick off a fun conversation in the chat, or ask everyone to add links to their favorite TikTok or YouTube video to the virtual chat and play them while everyone eats.

The goal here is to provide everyone with a great meal and a creative way to eat together on their first day!

9. Plan an In-person “New Hire Retreat”

You’re starting things off virtually, but planning an in-person event will keep your new hires looking forward to something! If your budget allows, planning at least one in-person event each quarter is a great way to humanize your team.

You can make the first event a “new hires only” exclusive so that they have time to chat about what they’ve learned and their experience so far. Schedule some time to go over company culture and your organization’s mission, then plan an outing to go with it. Maybe a yoga class and a trip to a local brewery, or dinner and an escape room after!

Plan your in-person event before new hires come on board and put it on the calendar so that they know when it’s coming up.

10. Send a Personalized Gift at the End of Their First Week

Virtual settings often feel more isolated and less personal than in-person offices–but this doesn’t have to be the case!

As you get to know your new remote workforce during their first week by asking ice-breakers and learning more about their backgrounds, take note of the things they value. Then, at the end of their first week, plan to send a small, personalized gift their way. This could be a book, a gift card to their local coffee shop, or a bottle of bubbly!

Platforms like Cooleaf allow you to offer rewards points so that employees can choose their own special item from a diverse catalog!

Want help with onboarding your virtual team? Chat with us!


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