May 2021
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TD Magazine

Virtually Welcome and Prep New Hires

Friday, April 30, 2021

You don’t need to be in person to onboard new employees.

Creating a virtual onboarding program—whether starting one from scratch or redeveloping an existing program—is about using sound instructional design principles. In "Onboard New Hires Virtually," Sharlyn Lauby uses the ADDIE model to demonstrate the process. However, she notes that talent development professionals can use an instructional design model that works best for them.


In the analysis phase, consider the organization’s needs to operate the business successfully as well as the performance needs. What do learners need to know their first day and week?

When designing or redesigning as well as developing the virtual onboarding program, determine which activities new hires must complete in person and which they can do virtually. Valuable virtual activities include:

  • A virtual buddy to help new hires acclimate to the company and culture or, alternatively, a virtual mentor who can help guide the new employees’ career within the organization
  • Reading about the industry via an online book, competitors’ websites, or whitepapers
  • A collaborative exercise where new hires interview people with whom they will work closely so that they learn about the department and their teammates and so colleagues can learn about the new hires’ background and personality
  • A guide with instructions for completing a time sheet
  • An e-learning module on communication skills or ethics training

As you roll out your program, consider a pilot program to gain buy-in and feedback before a full launch.

These tips were adapted from the May 2021 issue of TD at Work. Learn more at

About the Author

The Association for Talent Development (ATD) is a professional membership organization supporting those who develop the knowledge and skills of employees in organizations around the world. The ATD Staff, along with a worldwide network of volunteers work to empower professionals to develop talent in the workplace.

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