The secret to first class virtual onboarding

Oct 5, 2020 | Development

As millions of graduates and apprentices have recently started their first job, Stephanie Hopper, Director of Development Solutions at Cappfinity, explores what best-in-class virtual onboarding looks like in 2020.

When most of the world had to switch almost overnight to virtual working, companies started to experiment with how to onboard their new team members in a fully virtual world.

As September arrived, the challenge for businesses grew as they began the process of virtually onboarding large volumes of graduates and apprentices who were entering into the world of work for the first time.

Early development opportunities

Having a strong onboarding (and pre-boarding) development strategy is essential to ensuring that all new joiners feel engaged and ready to be their best, professional selves from day one. It creates a solid psychological contract with learning and development from the get-go.

There are many elements to getting virtual onboarding right for early careers and beyond. Technology can support us in many ways – from apps to help people complete all the required paperwork to videos with step-by-step instructions to setting up your computer. But in amongst all the logistics, it is essential to weave in virtual opportunities for development and increasing self-insight from the outset.


In our experience, a successful approach is grounded on three fundamental principles:

  • Self-led is your superhero – The modern learner needs their development to be at the ‘point of need’ – timely, relevant and personalised (Bersin 2018). We’ve seen great success with self-led digital toolkits that encompass a series of activities, reflective exercises and resources drawn from organisational psychology to help each individual make a positive impact in their first 90 days.
  • There are no one-hit wonders – Research shows that learning transfer is more effective in a journey as opposed to standalone events (Brinkerhoff). Our Digital Mentor e-Newsletter series used as part of pre-boarding or onboarding is designed to raise self-awareness, create a strong foundation for learning to occur once in the organisation and provide continuous engagement.
  • Virtual not distant – Connected employees are more productive, experience less stress and are more engaged (Forbes 2018, Cross et al. 2005). In our new social distance virtual landscape, with a little more planning, webcams working and recognising that spontaneity needs to be scheduled in, we can build strong connections with new joiners. At Cappfinity we run virtual extravaganzas – powerful ways of supporting new joiners to build deep connections, meet key stakeholders and discover how to hit the ground running through leveraging their strengths.

If you use the right tools, virtual onboarding can be a positive and successful experience for new joiners, whilst also helping businesses to enhance their employer brand and retain top talent. 

For more information about our virtual and self-led onboarding solutions, contact

Earlier this month Cappfinity shared actionable ideas on how to attract and hire more diverse talent and showcased their new Virtual Experience and Evaluation platform, Cappfinity VEE, in a webinar for ISE members

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