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A Comprehensive Approach To Onboarding New Team Members

Every business needs a comprehensive approach to onboarding new team members. Even more so now with so many businesses working fully remote, or on a hybrid plan during 2021 (and beyond).

If there is one thing B Squared Media does well – it’s working virtually! Having a remote company has its ups and downs – and how you prepare your team is huge.

As B Squared’s Executive Administrator, I have some tips and tricks that have been successful for our team. So buckle up and learn how to onboard new team members so they are not only comfortable in their new role but stick around long-term, ultimately setting your business up for success.

Map It Out

First, it’s vital to map out a comprehensive approach for onboarding new team members. An effective onboarding experience produces a more committed and organized team. As shared in this article (and photo below) by Bamboo HR, 91% of new hires who receive effective onboarding feel a strong connectedness to work.

[Source]

If you already have a standard checklist or manual for new hires, then you can use this as your framework. It’s good to have a baseline of the process, but with onboarding moving virtual you may need more structure for what happens each day.

Outline the onboarding process, including:

  • Who will be the main point of contact?
  • How long will onboarding take? (Our timeline is 7-10 business days from ‘welcome’ to our ‘drive the bus’ final session.)
  • What are the duties of the role and expectations?
  • What will happen during each session, or each day?
  • How much do you want them to accomplish in that time?

These may seem like no-brainer steps, but they are often overlooked. By preparing these steps ahead of time, onboarding will not feel as chaotic as the new team member begins.

Create Onboarding Tasks

Based on your answers in the previous section, it’s time to break each down into tasks. Using your project management tools (shout out to Basecamp 3!), create a standard list of onboarding tasks for each team member. This will range from basic office setup to detailed role-specific needs.

Here are some examples:

  • Set up an email signature. Sure, it’s basic, but it’s also the mark of professionalism by leaving no detail unlooked.
  • Set up a work calendar and mark time for OOO (out of office). A necessary task for client-facing or manager roles. It’s also basic and key for these roles.
  • Review all project documents. To get an understanding of their accounts. This includes guides, agreements, the scope of work, the website, and social platforms.
  • Shadow a team member. This may be one of the most vital things you can do. By screen sharing, the new team member gets a real taste of what’s expected, as well as supplements the documents they are reading with real-time interaction for the role.
  • Project audits. This is great for technical roles or data-driven jobs, to see their strengths or background knowledge.
  • Onboarding feedback and follow-up. Schedule time for the new team member to discuss the onboarding process with your point person. This will give you (virtual) face time and learn how effective the current process is.

While the new team member works through written guides and videos to learn the tools and process, we aim to make the onboarding informative and dynamic by creating to-dos that are efficient and can support different learning styles in a virtual environment.

Stay On Track

Because we work in a to-do-based system (or tasks), each team member gets a list (daily, weekly, or monthly) to complete deliverables for our projects.

It’s so easy to become distracted or isolated, even with an effective remote work environment. That’s why these to-dos are important for staying on track.

Once you’ve created an outline of the onboarding, your team lead and the new team member will know exactly what to expect with each day/session while holding each other accountable.

Don’t forget, it’s being reported that by 2025, 36.2 million Americans will be remote workers. That’s an 85% jump from our pre-COVID workforce! That stat should have you seriously thinking about how you’re onboarding virtual workers.

[Source: Upwork]

How your standard team members work is how the onboarding should be created. But always keep in mind that everyone learns differently.

Consistency in Structure

We constantly tell our team to over-communicate, and in a virtual work environment communication in details is key. Now that you’ve mapped out a plan and even built a list of to-dos, let’s break down the fine details.

We keep the following layout for each to-do or learning tool. Not all of these will be used every time, but it is best to establish order and consistency to help with productivity for the team members.

Here’s an example of our basic to-do for using the Harvest time tracking app:

  • Intro (what and why)
  • How-to, best practices, and links
  • Video
  • Things to remember and resources
  • Practice or questions

For more comprehensive learning processes, create practice exercises and questions in the to-dos. (Hint: this also shows you who is reading through each step and has attention to detail!).

An example of this is to have the new team member create a mock ad with copy, research project content, gather brand resources, or perform a project audit. You’ve now built in a learning process with productive work to be used for a project or brand.

Visual Aids

To keep your comprehensive onboarding inclusive, it is great to have team members help! If you have standard practices with your deliverables, have the current team members create short videos to supplement any documentation.  New team members can view the video when needed, bookmark it for reference, and save time by eliminating multiple screen share calls.
Example of onboarding a:
  • Sales accountant or account manager – Create a video showing how to add a new project (client, account, firm, etc) into your system. Maybe you have a specific number or labeling system, or set of folders/files for the specific services.
  • Graphic designer – Show them where to look for the approved project or stock imagery, or specific company templates and branding.
  • Social media coordinator – Give them the information of where to go to create a social content calendar with your tools.
Within each role, provide links in the to-do to help the new team member navigate as they watch the video, as well as tips and tricks. Finally, a short video to show what a typical day in the role is like is extremely helpful.

Onboarding Follow Up

Finally, once onboarding is complete, be sure to schedule a final to-do for feedback. This gives the new team member an opportunity to ask any questions, and you are able to see how the team works virtually.

By this time, you have created a comprehensive approach for onboarding new team members. Congrats, you are now prepared to set them up for success!

Continue to encourage them to ask questions, even after they’ve hit the ground running. Keeping an open line of communication with a virtual team is crucial for success.

Ultimately, effective onboarding requires upfront work, but the long-term benefits are priceless.

What tips do you have for onboarding new team members? Share them in the comments below!

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Lindsey has been with B Squared Media for three years and wears many hats behind the scenes. As the Executive Assistant, she Brooke's right-hand woman as well as the B2 Crew's go-to guru for a variety of things. She holds a bachelor's degree in Interdisciplinary Studies and Communication from The University of Texas at Arlington. When she's not coordinating projects, you can find her adventuring with her rescue dog, Darby, between Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Texas.
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