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ATD Blog

Virtual Onboarding: What Not to Do in 2021


Virtual onboarding may sound like new territory, but it is actually similar to in-person onboarding. The goals are the same: You should welcome new employees into the company by providing helpful documents, resources, internal policies, and tools they need to know about.

You should meet with them in virtual sessions and explain the company’s values, goals, mission statement, and so forth. Introduce them to the team and familiarize them with everyone’s rolls. Sounds easy, right?

Unfortunately, a study by Gallup found that only one in 10 employees think that their employer does a great job of onboarding new employees.

Another study found that one-third of new hires quit their jobs after about six months. These are abysmal numbers.

However, there is good news.

According to the same study, remote workers are 50 percent less likely to quit their jobs than their in-person counterparts. This is good news for you if you’re hiring someone to work remotely. Working from home can be more comfortable for most and allows employees to move at their own paces. These employees tend to be more satisfied with their jobs, but when it comes to onboarding, it is still important that you get it right.

Let’s go over three things you absolutely should not do when onboarding someone new.


Tip #1: Don’t Do Nothing

Many companies don’t do anything to onboard someone new, which means that other than a brief conversation with their boss, new hires are expected to navigate a new environment without any lifeboats or guidelines.

It’s not hard to provide basic information about your company and practices, especially if the new hire is being onboarded virtually. Let’s say that your team uses a project manager like Slack or Trello. Your new hire may not be familiar with these programs, and jumping in without any guidance can be hard. Take five minutes to explain via Zoom or over email how the company uses these tools and send the new hire links to how-to guides. That will make integrating with virtual systems much easier for them.

Think about the things you take for granted in your company. Are there certain resources a new employee should have? Take a moment to send them along. This can make your new hire feel welcome and valued even when they’ve joined a virtual team.

Tip #2: Don’t Have Vague Expectations

Another study from Gallup found that only 50 percent of employees strongly agreed that they knew what was expected of them at work. If what they’re supposed to do doesn’t match their expectations, they may leave. When hiring someone new, be clear about their job responsibilities and where there will be room for growth.


If you hired them to fill a role or perform certain duties, make sure they can see the value in their work and how they’re contributing to the overall success of the business. This will make them feel more invested in the overall success of the company.

Without clear expectations, how can they be expected to perform well at their role? You want them to feel good about their work. After all, their work is valuable.

Tip #3: Don’t Be a Ghost

It may be tempting to leave people and things on auto-mode and only pop in when there’s a problem, but this isn’t really a good practice for onboarding or for being a good team leader. It’s important to check in on new hires and provide praise and feedback early on so that they get a feel for how they’re contributing.

Get into the habit of checking in at least once a week. This also can help with setting expectations and forming a clear routine that keeps your employees motivated to do their best work.

Bonus Tip: Get Educated!

We’ve told you what not to do, but if you’d like more clear advice, tips, and suggestions for what you should do when onboarding a new employee, check out our informative infographic.

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