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Virtual Onboarding and Mental Health

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November 30, 2020

Virtual Onboarding

2020, the year of virtual reality. With many workers worldwide faced with redundancy and in the job-seeker world, virtual recruitment and onboarding is a new method most office-based businesses have quickly come to know. 

Virtual onboarding has simmered the excitement of beginning a new job. There is no office tour, no meeting the team, and no offering of a hot beverage on your first day. This can feel like an empty way to begin a new role. As nerve-wracking as our first days and weeks in a job go; doing it alone and virtually only creates greater levels of anxiety and dreaded imposter syndrome. It’s inevitable that workplace vulnerability is at an all-time high. 

How Can I Virtually Onboard Effectively To Improve Mental Health?

Over Communicate

Silence from anyone can be enough to send us into an anxiety frenzy, especially when it’s your manager who hasn’t spoken with you since last Friday. If this sounds like you, we recommend you adapt your approach by ensuring managers and seniors have effective communication skills. Effective communication strikes a balance between being present without micromanaging. 

Schedule in catch-up meetings with different areas of the business to introduce your new starter(s) to during their first weeks. This enables them to get a scope on the wider business and to feel included.

When your new hire(s) start, ensure you communicate the workplace is a safe space that welcomes feedback. As an employee, we are entitled to give feedback too, and when working virtually it’s difficult to understand everything from the get-go. This also fosters an environment that enables you to give feedback to your new starters as well. Let them know you understand virtual onboarding may take longer than if you were in a physical setting, and that’s okay. 

Virtual Onboarding

What platforms do you have to communicate? Working virtually doesn’t warrant Whatsapp as a means of communication between colleagues. Programs like Slack and Microsoft Teams are great virtual work tools. They’re a fast way to also enable off-topic chat to build social relationships amongst colleagues. 

Be mindful of the language you use during your communication. We’ve all been there when we’ve misunderstood something said in an email from a manager. Messages without tone can quickly be misconstrued, so it’s really important you use diplomatic language in your communication. 

Manage Expectations

Beginning a new job is incredibly overwhelming. There is a lot of information to take in ranging from different departments, to who does what and what document goes where. Be patient with your new starters(s) and appreciate working virtually is often accompanied by bottlenecks. (And connection issues.) It’s best not to overload your newbie with a large to-do list, this will only overwhelm them more. Office working generally means we adopt a colleague or two to ask questions when needed. Without this physical support, it can become increasingly stressful.

In the first week(s) focus on the values and mission of the business. Compile all the relevant information into documents that will be handy to them whilst they take a grasp on company culture. Look at how you can streamline their workload, high workloads as a new starter can add to levels of anxiety.

It’s important to be patient during the handover process. Whilst employees are in a probation period overloading them hinders their chances of impressing you or anyone in the business. 

Value Mental Health

As a manager or employer think about your first day in a new job, did you feel like a number to fill a hole or did you feel valued when you arrived? Try to personalise the onboarding experience by talking about their personal goals and aspirations in the role. It’s important to be flexible and fluid in your hiring with an open mind – we all work differently which helps to foster and create diverse workplaces. 

Educate and train managers on the importance of mental health at work. Learn and share the basics of compassion and empathy and how this can go a long way in an employee’s onboarding experience.

Set out a framework for your virtual onboarding experience and think about what is most important for both you and the new starter. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback from peers or your new starter(s) on how you can improve the onboarding experience. Feedback is important in any stage of our career so ensuring you welcome it from different areas of the business is important. 

Take-Aways

It’s natural that onboarding significantly reduces the human element to beginning a new job but that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to inject a human element to the virtual process. The aforementioned greatly improves the process for you as an employer but also creates a compassionate workplace for your new hires. 

Can We Help Your Business?

At Everymind, we value mental health in the workplace. Our platform offers the tools and resources to empower your employees to take better care of their mental health. With help and guidance right at their fingertips, think of us as your wellbeing companion in your pocket. Interested? Sign up for a free trial here.

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