How To Welcome New Employees Virtually During A Pandemic

Onboarding team members is always tricky. In a remote environment, welcoming your newest employees and sharing your company’s purpose with them is more important than ever.


The first weeks on a new job tend to be filled with excitement, determination, and of course, nerves. Starting a new job during a global pandemic comes with a different set of challenges and emotions. I know this from experience—I started my job at GlobalGiving in the summer of 2020, when all staff were working remotely. I knew that developing relationships with my colleagues and becoming part of the organization’s ecosystem would be especially challenging.

However, what alleviated my anxiety was that my colleagues welcomed me well in advance of my start date. They reached out for introductions, told me about their interests and roles in the company, and offered to answer any questions.

“The world has never seen workplace cultures change faster than they did in 2020,” according to a report from employee recognition company O.C. Tanner. They also found that employees’ sense of purpose fell slightly over the past year, and due to COVID-19, there was even more of a drop in areas like employees’ sense of success, opportunity, appreciation, and wellbeing.

If you’re planning to welcome new employees virtually, here are seven tips to make their onboarding a more positive and engaging experience:

    1. Onboard new hires in cohorts.

    If your organization is fortunate enough to be hiring for multiple roles during this time of economic uncertainty, have your new hires start at the same time. For me, it was a relief knowing that I wasn’t alone in my experience. Talking to others who were going through the same process was very comforting and helped me adjust faster.

    2. Get personal.

    In a remote environment, the main communication channels are messaging, email, and video calls. You can use them all to welcome new employees virtually in their first weeks. During my first virtual staff meeting, I was asked to tell the entire organization an embarrassing story. It was a fun ice breaker that made me feel connected to other staff members and lightened the workplace mood. I was also encouraged to schedule one-on-one coffee chats to get to know different members of the organization.

    3. Tailor the training.

    One thing that stood out to me during my training was that everyone has a unique learning style. Understanding how your new hires learn best will make your training sessions more effective. Ask your new hires to share their personality traits and how they like to communicate and collaborate to make training easier and build better working relationships between employees.

    4. Plan time for fun.

    Training all day can be extremely challenging for new hires, especially when it’s not in person. Allow enough time for breaks and fun activities such as casual team check-ins, virtual happy hours, or games like trivia.

    5. Send surprises.

    Receiving a welcome pack once I started working was an encouraging surprise—especially with my new organization’s branded shirt and sweater. Sporting the organization’s logo gave me a sense of community and belonging, which is even more important in a remote environment.

    6. Support flexible working hours.

    Everyone has a different time of day when they are most energized and focused. I am an early bird and like to get my day started between 7:30 and 8:30 a.m. A remote environment allows for some flexibility with work hours and unexpected time off as employees juggle responsibilities at work and at home. It makes new hires feel more at ease about their workplace and sets a tone of trust and understanding—something everyone could use these days.

    7. Walk the talk.

    Show your latest hires that you truly embody your company’s mission and values. For example, companies like 3M give new hires a charitable gift card when they join. When I received a $25 GlobalGiving Gift Card to donate to a project of my choice, it was clear to me that I was part of GlobalGiving’s mission to accelerate community-led change. Instead of simply telling employees that you are a purpose-driven company, demonstrate it in a tangible way.

To demonstrate your company’s values from day one, welcome new employees virtually with GlobalGiving Gift Cards.


Featured Photo: Equality Champions by Boys & Girls Clubs of Puerto Rico Inc.

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