Digital Onboarding for Frontlines: The Inform, Welcome & Guide Framework, #2

When it comes to virtual onboarding practices, considering the Inform-Welcome-Guide (IWG) framework developed by Klein and Heuser1 can be a good start. Their framework suggests that onboarding should focus on three types of practices: informing, welcoming and guiding.

Taking this structured approach to setting up your virtual onboarding programme can be a helpful way of ensuring that your new frontline hires are able to find their place in your organization with ease.

In this article, we will focus on welcoming practices, which are all about making your new frontline employees feel welcome within the organization. Who would have thought?!

Why Welcoming Practices?

Even though this seems pretty straightforward, welcoming practices are an essential part of onboarding, especially when it comes to everything taking place in a virtual setting. Good welcoming practices build a strong foundation for your employee’s future career in the company. Welcoming practices are carried out with a focus on celebrating the new frontline employees by showing appreciation for them joining the organization.

What Do Welcoming Practices Look Like?

Welcoming practices actually encompass both informing and guiding practices as well, because their purpose is to ensure that the new frontline employees feel welcome within the organisation and are able to find their way around all the necessary information and processes. Newcomers should also be given opportunities to meet their colleagues and other members of the organization.

What Should You Keep in Mind When it Comes to Welcoming Practices?

Start Early

It would be best if welcoming practices started even before your newcomer’s first day. This could include a phone call or an email welcoming the new frontline employee to the organisation. To put the cherry on the cake, you can also send them a welcome gift – even something small and inexpensive (e.g. a company notebook or a mug with their name or initials) can make a great impact towards your new frontline employees feeling welcome.  

If your new deskless employees need any tools for their job, it is handy to have those figured out before the first day. For example, if they need to have a uniform, you can send out a form for them to fill in with all the necessary information beforehand.

First Day Warm Welcome

Before sending off your newcomers to get to work, you should invest some time in giving them a warm welcome. Some companies like to pre-record a welcome video with the head of the company which they send out to their new hires. This is great for showing your deskless employees that they are becoming a part of the team, as well as giving them an introduction to the company’s vision, mission and goals. 

Forming Relationships

You can set up your newcomer with an ‘onboarding buddy’ who will be in charge of reaching out to them and introducing them to other colleagues. This is an opportunity for your new deskless employee to start forming relationships right from the get-go, and to have a person to reach out to when they need help. 

Depending on the nature of your frontline employees’ work, it might also be good to schedule a welcome call for the newcomer to meet their colleagues. However, keep in mind that deskless employees may encounter barriers to this because they could be working irregular hours, or they may not have a suitable device or internet connection for a call to run smoothly. Make sure you have sorted out these obstacles before scheduling the call.

Welcome Interview 

A welcome interview could be one potential solution to this challenge. This will give you the opportunity to still give new frontline employees a personal welcome, without it requiring tremendous resources from either side. You can read more about how to prepare for and carry out these new employee interviews in the article 8 Types of Interview Posts for Introducing Employees + 31 Interview Questions, which also provides you with great sample questions. 

What Are Some of the Challenges You Might Face?

As per Hemphill and Begel’s research2, in digital onboarding, creating and maintaining remote social relationships is one of the most challenging activities. Not physically being in the same space greatly lowers the social encounters new frontline employees have with their colleagues, meaning that it takes longer for relationships to form.

On the other hand, deskless employees may be only partially affected by this challenge, as it is likely that they will still have face-to-face encounters with their colleagues in the frontline. Therefore, it is mainly the relationships with other colleagues (e.g. management, HR) which will be affected. 

A further challenge is that the majority of communication with deskless employees is asynchronous, making real-time communication uncommon. As previously mentioned, deskless workers may not have continuous access to the internet or to devices that enable video conferencing. Furthermore, they may not be working during traditional office hours. For this reason, tools like GuavaHR come in handy because they allow for employees to access information, welcome videos and other features at a time that is suitable for them.

What’s Next?

Although written with a focus on frontline employees, the content of this article also applies to virtual onboarding in general. In our upcoming article, we’ll focus on the guiding part of the Inform, Welcome & Guide Framework.