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4 Virtual Onboarding Activities to Keep Your New Hires Engaged

Create an effective and engaging remote onboarding experience with these four onboarding activities.

By Jonathan Ronzio  •   May 26, 2020  •   5 min read

You might not be allowed to bring your new hires around the office. But you can still engage them in your company culture with an incredible remote onboarding experience

But that can’t happen if every minute is filled with information overload and back-to-back meetings. If you want to create a virtual onboarding experience with high engagement that will make all your up-to-speed coworkers jealous, here are four fun onboarding activities that you need to add to the agenda.

Onboard a bunch of new hires in a cohort, rather than one at a time. Having a built-in community that is going through the same experience will help them get the most out of their remote onboarding experience. 

1 Melt the Ice with 30-Minute Coffee Chats

Keep in mind, it’s your new hire’s first day. They’re nervous and don’t know anyone other than maybe someone who was involved in their interview process. And now, they have 8-hours on a bunch of virtual meetings with strangers they now call “coworkers.”

And to add to that, unlike in-person onboarding, new hires can’t just lean over to the person next to them and introduce themselves. They need to wait until precisely the right moment when they won’t be disrupting anything – which might never come! 

virtual onboarding

Rather than just playing a bunch of ice breaker games, you can melt the awkwardness with 30-minutes of good conversation over a cup of coffee. And be sure to focus on their story, both in and out of the workplace. (There will be plenty of time to talk about yourself and the company later!) This is a great activity for new hires. If you want to really show your appreciation, buy your new hire’s cup of coffee for this activity! When you send your new hire’s their Day 1 information (ideally, a week before their start date), be sure to include a $5 gift card and directions for when they should use it.

2 Intermittent Jackbox.TV Breathers

Let’s just get this out of the way, WFH burnout is real! And if you try to squeeze as much as possible into a few days of onboarding, you risk your new hires feeling overwhelmed and burning out quickly. 

Of course, you need a detailed onboarding plan, one with everything your new hires need to know on it. But you also need to plan time for bathroom breaks and coffee refills. (Yes, actually put them in the schedule – it’s much harder to step away from a virtual meeting than an in-person one.) 

But don’t only schedule breaks, schedule time for breathers. Unlike breaks where your new hires have to rush right back, breathers give them a moment to absorb what they just learned! 

You can let your new hires go on their own for these breathers (but then you lose the quality water cooler bonding that is crucial to new hires feeling a part of something). Or, you can plan something fun like Jackbox.TV to make sure even these moments are productive. Invite other people from your organization who the new hires haven’t met yet to play, too! This provides an opportunity for a fun, stress-free introduction to managers, teammates, and even the C-suite.

3 Ongoing Swag Checks

Okay – we know this one might sound ridiculous! But how else can you check in on how your new people are adjusting while also gauging how successful the onboarding has been so far? 

Remember, your new hires still need them to learn about the company, their roles, and how to do what they need to do. But getting them up to speed doesn’t need to feel like a ton of work (not if you’re using an onboarding tool such as Trainual at least). With Trainual, you can add gifs, videos, screen shares, and interactive quizzes to your training materials to accommodate all learning types. This will not only get everyone up to speed faster, but it will keep your new hires engaged even through the “boring parts.”

You can even assign all your new hires the same company-wide topics on the same day. Then, at the end of the day, play trivia games to see who learned the most about the founding story, key industry terms, or the competitive landscape. Be sure to send swag to the winner! (Or, just give the winner bragging rights by shouting them out in the company-wide Slack channel.)

Swag Ideas: An onboarding swag kit doesn’t have to break the bank, but it should include something they can actually use like laptop sleeves, t-shirts, business cards, or even gift cards! 

4 An End of Onboarding Celebration

Onboarding is not an easy feat! So, why not celebrate a successful virtual onboarding and all your incredible new hires for getting through it? 

Zoom social events, like Virtual Happy Hours, are all the rage right now! But you can make them even more memorable by turning them into a “welcome to the team” party. Schedule it an hour before people usually go home on a Friday. Then, be sure to invite everyone, and I mean everyone, to cut out of work early and celebrate with your new hires.

When the happy hour starts and you have most of your company online, have someone from your onboarding team cheers to your new hires. Then, allow people to actually meet them (after all, they are the guests of honor)!  Break the larger group into smaller groups with break out rooms. Usually, rooms with 4 to 6 people in them work best because there are enough people to keep the conversation going, but not so many that you can’t get a word in. 

With virtual onboarding, it’s easy to focus too much on what needs to be done and forget that your new hire is nervous or overwhelmed. But rather than getting more done, this leaves your new hires unengaged. 

These fun onboarding activities are designed to invite new hires into the company culture, to make genuine connections, and better position them to be successful in their new roles. That’s why, even though these activities might seem off-task, they are a critical component of any remote onboarding experience. 

About Trainual

Trainual is the world’s leading onboarding, training, and knowledge management platform, trusted by over 50,000 users in 100+ countries. By organizing all your company’s policies, processes, and procedures in one app, Trainual makes it easier than ever to build your playbook and scale your business. Get your business out of your brain at Trainual.com.

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