8 min read

The First 30 - Days: A Virtual Onboarding Learning Journey

The First 30 - Days: A Virtual Onboarding Learning Journey

Hybrid teams have highlighted the need for a structured approach to onboarding to maximize employee engagement. This map provides a journey to training virtual teams as well as essential activities and tools to help new hires and their managers navigate the first 30 days.
Download the detailed learning journey and read about the journey below. 

Planning for the Journey

This is a representative journey and should be adapted to meet the needs of your situation. Things to consider when designing an onboarding journey, include:

  • What is the level of the new hire? Some of the training tasks for leadership development for managers would be different from entry-level employees, for example.
  • Is the new hire a transfer from another department in your organization? If so, the one-time orientation components of the journey can be drastically reduced.
  • What onboarding activities are department/role specific? Which are relevant to the entire organization?
  • If multiple people are being onboarded at the same time, how is each of their experiences different?

It’s critical that these questions be answered by the hiring manager before Day 1 so that the onboarding journey is customized and ready to go. Everyone should have a map specific to their personal experience.

Remember that every time we onboard new employees and team members, team dynamics change. Teams need to be nurtured so no one feels isolated in a virtual world. Hiring managers leading remote teams should take time to consider how to get the new team from forming to performing in the fastest way possible.

Finally, don’t wait for a critical mass of new hires for formal training. Coordinate with Human Resources or other departments to make sure that everything that SHOULD happen in the first 30 days CAN happen. This is the best way to set everyone up for success.

The Journey – A Picture Says 1000 Words

We’ve mapped out a typical onboarding journey starting with “Pre-boarding” and then detailing the first four weeks of a new hire’s experience. This entire journey is available as an infographic and if you are like me, that might be the place you want to start!

The infographic has some bonus items: a list of Essential Activities including suggested training, checklists, infographics, videos, coaching and shadowing opportunities, and more for each stop in the journey. Don’t worry, if it seems like too much, you can work in ways to automate much of the onboarding process with a virtual learning platform.

Pre-boarding Activities for the Hiring Manager

Pre-boarding activities are meant to help managers think through how to best help the new hire gain self-efficacy early in their time at your company, as well as create a thorough plan for the new hire. This sends a message that you are invested in the long-term success of your new employee beginning the process of employee engagement.

Hold a planning session with the hiring manager and cover context, credibility, and connection:

  • What are the most important parts of the job for the new hire to learn?
  • What initial projects or assignments will the new hire need to get up to speed on right away?
  • What existing meetings or events are already scheduled that the new hire should attend to build out more context for their role?
  • What tools and resources will the new hire need to know and/or master in the first 30 days?
  • What are the new hire challenges and how can the onboarding schedule help build these competencies? What specific training will support this?
  • How can you help the new hire build credibility? What tasks could they own that would help increase visibility in the organization?
  • Who are the most important people the new hire needs to meet to perform their duties successfully? Who has expectations about the person in this role?
  • What will be the regular meeting schedule between you (the manager) and the new hire?
  • Who would be a good mentor for the new hire? Include up to three options.
Welcome Employees The Right Way

Welcome the employee in a way that sets the tone for employee engagement.

  • Send a written note and swag bag in advance of the start date.
  • Confirm logistics for the first day, including on-site logistics of finding the office and who will meet them, when the computer will arrive if off-site, agenda for the first day login information, and key contacts. This is especially important for remote employees!
  • Cover any HR administrative paperwork that is possible to complete ahead of the start date, such as benefits, keeping in mind the labor laws in your region that may prohibit any work done before the official start date.
  • Schedule 30-day onboarding meetings on the new hire’s calendar.
Onboarding Week 1

Before the new hire learns the technical aspects of their job, it is important to build the context of the role, the organization, and the business, while also beginning to integrate the new hire into the culture and giving them the basic support they need to be successful.

Focus on new hire acclimation and administration

This includes computer setup, essential software access, administrative paperwork, employee handbook, basic HR policies, as well as where to find team folders, files, and documentation. If the new hire is on-site for the first day, include wayfinding for restrooms, emergency exits, and local places to eat. If managing virtual teams, ensure new hires have access to online classroom training and other platforms needed for work. Leave ample free time on the schedule to complete these tasks.

Begin manager conversations

Discuss basic expectations around responsive communication, attendance and holiday schedules as well as preferred work styles.

Build social connections

Start with team member introductions by hosting a virtual lunch and spending time with an organizational chart to help the new hire understand the roles of various team members and departments as well as introducing the idea of a buddy or mentor.

Focus on employee belonging

Reinforce a diversity and inclusion approach to employee engagement and social connections, and introduce resource groups or affinity groups that are focused on various demographics. While this is a bit more nuanced with virtual teams, using the right virtual training strategies can make all the difference in establishing a sense of belonging.  

Focus on hybrid teams

Ensure that all employees, whether remote or onsite, can effectively communicate and collaborate in the hybrid workforce. This includes efficient virtual classroom design and the incorporation of creative ways to engage students online during training sessions. 

Set the tone for employee engagement

Ensure that the new hire is acclimating to the new environment.

Onboarding Week 2

This week, take connections to the next level by explaining how stakeholder responsibilities overlap and interact with those of the new hire. Encourage listening and observation before action and decision-making.

Meet your mentor/bud

The goal is to enhance the new hire’s social connections by assigning them an office buddy. This is often a fellow employee, other than the manager, who provides advice, guidance, or a “sounding board” to offer encouragement as the new employee acclimates to the culture and workplace. To further accelerate engagement, ask the new hire for their top 3 choices for this office buddy, based on conversations from the week before. Make sure to adapt this practice when leading remote teams.

Facilitate 1:1 meetings with stakeholders

This is a series of short conversations with colleagues from across departments, team members, direct reports, and anyone who has regular interactions or responsibilities that connect with the new hire’s responsibilities. Keep in mind that this is an opportunity to build credibility and connection.

Provide an introduction to key departments

Departmental introductions should follow a similar format that includes an organizational chart of team members, leaders and their roles, high-level departmental goals, and a basic understanding of how the department works.

Conduct initial project orientation

This first conversation is about the new hire’s job responsibilities concerning existing projects and tasks that they will own.

Invite to team meetings

Ensure the new hire will join any regularly scheduled team meetings including town hall meetings. Be sure to welcome them as new hires of the company. If the new hire is in a leadership role, identify a small part of the agenda which they can own as well as leadership development goals in the future.

Onboarding Week 3

The focus of this week is to begin an in-depth exploration of projects, markets, and job responsibilities while continuing to build connections and credibility more broadly across the organization.

Meet the CEO/Senior Leadership

Meeting the organization’s leadership sends some important messages to the new hire. Perhaps the most important message is that they care about their employees. A CEO’s time can be scarce so planning this meeting when there are a few new hires is a good use of time. This meeting is a win for employee engagement. Of course, the leadership level depends on the size of the company, but this connection matters. 

Deep dive into responsibilities

Build on last week’s introduction to key departments and initial project orientation by reviewing existing operating plans and resources available to support tasks and project completion. Spend some time helping the new hire with prioritization as they are still understanding the context of their new role.

Develop hypotheses and find an independent path

The new hire should independently begin to craft some ideas around what challenges exist that need to be solved, how culture works, and what is most important to accomplish first.

Onboarding Week 4

The final week of scheduled onboarding moves into strategic alignment, creating momentum, and building credibility. Through the process of setting achievable goals, you build the new hire’s confidence and establish a greater degree of engagement. Be sure to continue any introductions that weren’t scheduled in prior weeks.

Mutually develop vision and goals

This is a collaborative process between the manager and new hire where both come to the conversation with their ideal vision of what the role will be, followed by a discussion and consensus-building. From there, short and long-term goals are established. When goals are established early, quarterly performance conversations keep goals on track which means there are no surprises during the annual performance evaluation. This is key for keeping an employee engaged. Some guiding questions include:

  • How do our roles fit into this vision?
  • What is your specific role in helping move the needle toward achieving this vision?
  • What skills and relationships do you need to support this vision, now and in the future?
Establish a “quick win” 

After goals have been identified, choose one that is achievable in a short time frame and will give the new hire confidence while also establishing broad credibility across the department or organization. Whether it be leadership goals or providing customer service excellence, quick-win goals are great for motivating your new hires. 

Gain clarity around the supervisor’s style and priorities

Onboarding is a two-way street and the new hire has the responsibility for asking good questions based on weeks of observation. Before the first month is finished, the new hire should check in with the manager and gain clarity about how and when they prefer to communicate including hybrid work expectations, use of email, phone, and text messages, along with after-hours expectations, to name a few.

Conduct formal 30-day check-in

This critical conversation should cover the new hire’s understanding of the context of their work, how they have been able to establish credibility, and who they have made connections with during the first month. This structured conversation is meant to identify any challenges in their transition while ensuring a sense of belonging and providing additional knowledge or resources needed to ensure success. This conversation is repeated at the 60- and 90-day marks.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, by the end of the first month, a quick-win goal for the new hire should be established to build credibility and create self-efficacy for the employee in their new role. 

Onboarding Isn’t Over in 30 Days – Learn More

Our August 2022 podcast, What’s Driving The Need for Virtual Onboarding, reiterated that onboarding is a process that can take up to a year to complete. We shared simple steps you can take, such as how to make sure that new employees are engaged with 30, 60, and 90-day onboarding plans, and what you should consider when designing virtual learning workshops for onboarding. One thing is for certain is that a thoughtful onboarding strategy improves employee engagement and is good for everyone. It’s worth the investment.

Getting Virtual Onboarding Right

Want help creating your custom virtual onboarding journey? Our team of Virtual Learning Experts® can be your guides. We can help you to design a custom experience and incorporate beneficial strategies for virtual learning. Contact us! 

Your organization can build a strong 30-day onboarding strategy to retain talent in today's hybrid workplace. Getting Virtual Onboarding Right - Maximizing New Hire Engagement in the Hybrid Workplace explores how to design a virtual onboarding program, how to connect remote new hires to the rest of the organization, and how to make the first 30 days on the job positive, memorable, and energizing.

You can choose from 12 of our trending workshop topics for up to 12 people in your organization. Purchase 5 workshops and the 6th workshop is free! Click on the image below to learn more.



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