Success With Virtual Employee Onboarding

man eating lunch while meeting with colleagues virtually
By Lauren Freeman

5 minutes

Four tested strategies you can implement in your shop

COVID-19 has disrupted many aspects of everyday life, with one of the most notable being work environments. Financial technology providers and credit unions across the country have quickly adapted to some or all employees working from home, leveraging technology and new strategies to virtually accomplish what was once done in person. This can be difficult enough for existing employees; however, onboarding new employees during this time brings its own set of unique challenges.

To overcome these obstacles, the people and culture team at Sensibill, a Toronto-based provider of everyday financial tools like digital receipt management and SKU-level data that help institutions better know and serve their customers, shifted focus to building an engaging and effective remote team, ensuring that new team members were welcomed, included and positioned for success through a new virtual onboarding process. Credit unions looking to improve their virtual employee onboarding experience might want to consider emulating the tactics below. 

1. Contactless Laptop and Swag Delivery

We might not get to meet new teammates in person, but they can still expect a swag and laptop delivery! Determining how to get desks, chairs, laptops and additional monitors to our team has been challenging, but personal door drop-off guarantees that our team is well-equipped for success with their home offices right away. Hugh Theodore, senior product manager at Sensibill, says having the necessary hardware and care package before his start date was a great welcome that allowed him to hit the ground running from day one.

2. Hello, Welcome, Nice to Meet You—Virtually 

Our remotely onboarded team members expected an initial challenge since they would be separated from the in-office culture right from the get-go. Trevor Dell, senior engineering manager, worried about the challenges of meeting new people, a sentiment echoed by Jenn Lennox, VP/people, who found not shaking people’s hands or greeting them face-to-face to be the biggest challenge of virtual onboarding. To combat this, the people and culture team implemented a few new processes.

Before day one, our new hires answer four questions while setting up their employee profile:

  • What is your favorite flavor of #PIE?
  • Where are the majority of your purchase receipts from?
  • What are some of your favorite hobbies outside of work?
  • What is one thing that’s still on your bucket list?

The responses are shared via email across the company on the employee’s first day. This information provides interesting conversation-starters for the rest of the team to discuss the important stuff (like restaurant recommendations and travel tips). New employees are also greeted with a flurry of messages in our #celebrations Slack channel to personally welcome them to the team.

At our bi-weekly town hall meetings, we saw an opportunity for new team members to introduce themselves and share a little bit about their families, hobbies, previous work history and what they’re excited to contribute to Sensibil. This undertaking allows everyone to put the face to the name. Dell explains his pleasant surprise at a “well-thought-out and thorough welcoming in my first week.”

3. Coffee, Lunch or Cocktail?

On day one, we schedule a team lunch so new employees can get to know their teammates in a more informal environment. We send our new employees a $25 voucher to purchase lunch for themselves and enjoy it with their new teammates over Zoom.

Cross-team relationships are equally important, so each new employee is paired with a Sensibuddy for their first week. This randomly selected Sensibill employee schedules a virtual coffee, lunch or evening drink with the new hire to answer questions and learn more about their new teammate.

After the first week, new employees are added to the #coffee-buddies Slack channel, where they’re randomly paired with a different Sensibillian to enjoy a coffee or cocktail with every week. “We like to spend some time chatting about current affairs, weather, anything that seems topical, funny or ridiculous,” says Theodore.

4. Set Up for Success

To guarantee new employees have what they need to be successful, the people and culture team spends the morning with new hires, walking them through our mission, vision, values, and behavioral traits. We provide them with a customized “8x8” document to guide them through their first eight hours and their first eight days at Sensibill. The 8x8 includes everything from product demos to team goals, objectives and key results to department playbooks plus meeting descriptions.

We also leverage the learning management system Lessonly to provide online overviews for each department’s responsibilities and commitments. Dell appreciated Sensibill’s readiness for employees to join remotely while finding “ways to include him very early on despite him still learning the ropes.” Lennox also found that the structured 8x8 document helped her get up to speed in her first week and beyond.

With the shift to fully remote work, virtual employee onboarding became a critical priority for Sensibill. We have worked to adapt our existing processes and create fresh ones to welcome our new Sensibillians and ensure they feel secure in their new role. As we continue to learn more in this new normal, our processes will be continuously iterated and improved. We’re proud of the way our team has shown resilience, adapted to change and continues to make our new Sensibillians feel welcome and included, even from their homes. 

By applying some of these tips, best practices and lessons learned, we believe credit unions across the country will be well-positioned to enhance their virtual onboarding experience, ultimately prompting greater employee collaboration and satisfaction.

Lauren Freeman is the people & culture manager for Sensibill, a provider of everyday financial tools like digital receipt management and SKU-level data that help institutions better know and serve their customers. Check out more content from Freeman in Sensibill’s blog.

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