December 22, 2021

Team Connection & Engagement: Ways to Improve Virtual Onboarding

Employees state that the onboarding process needs some improvement; especially virtual onboarding. HR professionals and hiring managers find onboarding remote employees a bit challenging. Those new hires often find the experience passive, disorganized and forgettable.

First impressions are important and the onboarding process is the first contact the new hire has with the org. To ensure that it is a great experience, focus on connecting the team with great engagement.

Connect Team Members

“It seems like such a simple thing but I think we're looking for more opportunities to have one-on-one time with people. The small group time where you can really listen to someone. I have to seek out this time myself...I'm talking to them but I'm talking to them about work. I have to look for opportunities to break for more conversational times like ‘hey, how are your kids?’”
-JoDee Curtis, Owner at Purple Ink LLC

One of the major components of in-person onboarding is getting to know the team. Those interpersonal moments are critical; however, they are easy to get overlooked in virtual onboarding experiences.

In physical offices, it’s natural to spin up a conversation in the breakroom but this may take more dedicated facilitation virtually. As the onboarding coordinator, don’t allow connections to happen on happenstance in chats or via email. Help build these connections by scheduling introductions and team talks.

Considering using a buddy system

Onboarding buddies act as mentors for new hires throughout the onboarding process and is a great way to build a closer connection between team members.

“We have mentors that get assigned, like a buddy system. With each mentor, they start working the accounts and doing tasks. The tasks grow as they continue to onboard and then eventually to the point where they're actually doing the work and the mentors are there as an extra resource.”
-Jennifer Reyes, Sales Enablement Manager at Blend

Facilitate Engagement

Having an entertainment factor makes it worthwhile and meaningful. Being engaging comes down to the right content. The meetings and workshops that take place during the onboarding sessions need to be more than a Zoom link.

At the beginning of live meetings, start out with an ice-breaker (e.g. have everyone share a new TV show they are watching). It’s important to show that you care about the team as people and don’t want to solely talk about work.

Other than having fun together, another way to engage with a new team member is by asking them questions. This provides a feedback safe environment. A safe environment is built with trust and it’s essential to build trust early in the new team member’s journey.


At Filo, we believe onboardings should inspire, align, enable and connect -- you can find strategies to do those things in our virtual onboarding guide