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A Guide to Onboarding and Training in a Virtual Environment 

Woman in virtual meeting on computer wearing headset

The coronavirus pandemic has significantly disrupted every sector of the economy. With physical restrictions hindering face-to-face onboarding and training processes, many organizations were forced to transition to a fully virtual training environment.  

There are many components to a virtual migration that can be challenging for organizations to get into place in order to achieve a seamless, informative, and, most importantly, engaging training program. In this blog, we will cover our six best practices that we believe will help your teams confidently achieve their career ambitions, starting with onboarding. 

1. Provide a Proactive, Hands-On Onboarding Experience 

They say first impressions are everything, right? This is especially true for the onboarding experience. Make sure that the process is seamless, intuitive, and proactive for your new hires. In addition to providing a welcome packet, businesses now must provide all the technology needed so that an employee can jump right in on day one. Make sure the onboarding leader reaches out to new hires several days before the scheduled orientation day to check in, introduce themselves, and ask if the new hire has any preliminary questions or issues that they can assist with. 

Ensure the employee has the following before orientation day: Graphic of people meeting virtually 

  • Received a welcome packet with a company handbook, all required login information, and branded tchotchkes, (like a hat, mug, pens, pad of paper, etc.)  
  • Received all the required technology, like a laptop, monitor, headset + microphone. 
  • Have no issues with logging into their systems and videoconferencing software. 

If an issue arises during the introduction call, the orientation leader can quickly escalate to IT to get the issue resolved before the start day.  

During orientation, it’s important to keep people excited and engaged about the company, while they learn the boring minutia that’s typical on the first day. To ensure the class stays engaged throughout the day and help them avoid multitasking, encourage attendees to turn on their cameras during the sessions, but remember to notify them beforehand. This gives them enough time to prepare, pick an appropriate background, check the lighting, and ensure their videoconference tools are working as expected. Implement virtual icebreakers to foster a sense of belonging in your group. These will help when it becomes time to break off into group work. Providing a healthy mix of open answer questions, group discussions, videos, multiple-choice questions, website scavenger hunts, etc. will also help ensure that people from all backgrounds are collaborating effectively and engaging with the class and course material. 

2. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate 

We have all been there and know how difficult it can be for new employees to settle into an unfamiliar work environment. Therefore, it is essential to maintain effective communication before, during, and after the training.  

Some of the thing’s trainees must know: 

  • The purpose of the training. 
  • Time and date of the training. 
  • Expected duration. 
  • How they are expected to participate in the classroom. 
  • To keep an open dialogue throughout. Feedback is a two-way street. 
  • Will there be follow-ups or additional resources provided. 

Send timely and well-designed reminders to make sure nobody is left out and to stir a sense of excitement. This communication strategy is best when using a multi-channel approach through emails, internal communication channels (like Microsoft Teams, Slack, etc.), and reiterated in live “huddles” (or meetings) with your team. 

Effective communication gets the right people to attend your virtual training programs with a clear idea of what they are coming to do and leaves them with an understanding of how they can use what they have learned. Hence, there is no wasting time or ambiguity. 

3. Integrate a Blended Learning Environment for Both Self-Serve and Instructor-Led Programs 

Everyone learns differently. Some learn better with visuals. Others prefer reading, listening, or simulation training. Certain learners prefer on-demand training modules they can access and complete on their own and at their own pace, while others want instructor-guided courses. Therefore, you must provide a selection of learning methods to maximize participation and optimize engagement.  

ServiceSource provides a variety of blended learning courses, including: 

  • Virtual Instructor Lead Classes 
  • Virtual Workshops 
  • Intensive Training Programs 
  • Boot Camps 
  • Cohort Collaboration Assignments and Whiteboarding 
  • E-Learning 
  • Job Aids & Readiness Packets 
  • Industry Articles & Case Studies 
  • Knowledge Assessments 
  • Gamified Courses and Contests 
  • Peer Sharing and Forums 
  • Employee Generated Content 
  • Coaching and Mentoring Programs 
  • Breakout Rooms for Additional Discussions 

At least 50% of what an employee will consume comes from outside the formal classroom in the form of “Workflow” or “On-the-Job-Training (OJT).” It’s important to provide your employees with a streamlined, logical communication stream for timely and relevant training materials. By embedding articles, job-aids, and additional resources into your system, or pinning them in a Microsoft Teams group channel (when appropriate), you’ll minimize distractions and cognitive disruption in the training experience.  

4. Enable New Reps to Perform Dry Runs 

Dry runs are an important part of training because they enable reps to identify potential trouble spots and better comprehend complex concepts. They are also a good way for new reps to understand how everything falls into place and how specific activities should be conducted. 

By shadowing representatives while they perform dry run sales or support calls, you create an opportunity to convert the theoretical aspects of training into more practical, hands-on experiences. 

Aligning your trainees with peer mentors and coaches early in their training is a big part of their long-term success and creates a sense of organizational belonging.   

Having these resources for a trainee helps to scale support in-between classroom sessions and formalized programs. Providing the right resources early in the training period will help your trainees save upwards to 2-hours a day in lost productivity.  

This does not mean your frontline leaders are off the hook.  

Our frontline leaders are our beacons of success within the company.  

We empower them to start the coaching conversations, host practice sessions and mock calls within the first month with their trainees. This helps to instill best practices early in a trainee’s career at ServiceSource to ensure long-term employee growth and success. 

5. Create an Environment That Promotes Continued Learning 

When building a training program, ask yourself:  

“What’s in it for my employees?”   

“How would this training help them to achieve their personal objectives?” 

Once you answer these questions, it’ll be much easier to offer not only relevant training but timely training.  

One way to support continued learning is by using third-party resources, such as LinkedIn LearningUdemy, or on-demand in-house training programs. On-demand training that speaks directly to what an employee wants to learn will encourage them to continue pursuing education throughout their career. Implement personal education time for employees to take a course of their choice.  

For example, if your employees have young families, it may not be top-of-mind to take a course at night after working all day. Dedicating a few hours a month to self-guided education will help ensure that employees are making it a priority, without sacrificing time away from the telephone or computer.  

6. Allow Employees to Follow Their Career Paths Using a “Choose Your Own Adventure” Model 

Training provides companies with an opportunity to support their employees’ career aspirations. Instead of insisting on a specific training path, integrate a “choose your own adventure” track in the training process. In this model, your employees are trained based on their responsibilities within the organization and how they want their career to go—their own adventure, so to speak. This creates a training environment that speaks to their needs and instills a clear path for the desired career growth. 

For example, ServiceSource’s training platform, Customer Journey Experience University, offers personalized career growth solutions tailored to where our employees currently are and where they need to be in the immediate and long-term future. 

Provide employees with support in achieving their goals today…while empowering them to unlock their career potential and outcomes of tomorrow. 

Learn More About Virtual Training at ServiceSource 

At ServiceSource, we understand that our continued success depends on our training methodologies, cadence, and content. We emphasize continued learning because we strive to be in a constant state of evolution. To learn more about how we onboard and train our employees, or to explore the various solutions that we offer to improve your customer journey experience, sales, and/or renewals KPIs, please schedule a call with us today. 

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