Business case studies

Virtual onboarding – how to get it right?

Recruiting and onboarding new starters has been challenging throughout the pandemic. It’s a process that was almost always done face-to-face in Before Times, and there has been some natural scepticism about how engaging and successful an online process can be.

Happily, we’re hearing some great examples from employers of all shapes and sizes that have created really positive virtual onboarding processes. This is good news, as we’re expecting virtual onboarding to become more common in future as more people and businesses embrace greater remote working.

Vickie Chrimes joined digital learning platform, Sponge, as a project manager in its pharmacy team in August. She was recruited and inducted remotely, and will continue to work full-time from home.

If this is something you’re trying to finesse at your organisation, read on for Vickie’s take on her virtual induction.

Flex attraction

“My new role is a very similar role to my previous one. But the main thing that attracted me to Sponge was the culture. I’d heard great things about how inclusive, collaborative and caring it was. And I’ve not been let down on that yet!

“I’m based in Nottingham. Not near enough to any of the Sponge offices to commute in, so I’ll be full-time remote working once pandemic life ends. I wouldn’t have applied if I needed to be in one of the offices all the time. It just wouldn’t have been feasible.

“What’s nice is how friendly everyone is, so I really don’t feel like I’m in isolation. There are a few other people in a similar situation, who don’t live near an office. There’s even another project manager who lives about ten mins down the road from me, and there are plans to meet face-to-face at some point soon.

Positive onboarding

“Onboarding was actually pretty great compared to other experiences I’ve had in the past. The People team put a lot of effort into making sure I was set up for day one. I had my IT kit delivered the week before I was due to start, for example.

“As part of my first day, I had an introduction call with Sarah Williams from Sponge’s People team, and a couple of other new recruits. This was lovely because we could follow each other through the journey and not feel quite so overwhelmed!

“Sarah had been my main point of contact through the application, interview and overall recruitment process, so it was a nice bit of consistency to be welcomed into the business by her on the Monday morning.

“The onboarding/induction plan was really clearly laid out, and shared in advance of the first day, so I was prepared for what I’d be doing in my first few days and weeks.

“Some meetings were scheduled for myself and the other new employees to speak to key members of the Sponge team that we’d be working with, and I was able to set up other meetings I needed too.

Conversational extras

“The ‘cherry on the top’ of my great onboarding experience was the little tea and biscuit parcel that arrived at the end of my first week and ahead of a new recruit virtual meet-up. This was where we could meet other new starters and share our experiences and provide any feedback. I also really liked how an ‘icebreaker bot’ on Teams matched new starters with a random person at Sponge that we can then set up a meeting with and get to know better. I really love the community feel here!

“There’s been a lot to take in as part of the onboarding process. But everything is so well-documented I know I can refer back when I get into the work properly.

“I felt part of the team straight away. Everyone is so friendly and welcoming, and work together to support you when you need it.”

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