Onboarding managers during the Pandemic

Marcel Ramin Derakhchan7. February 2024

Virtual hiring and onboarding have proven to be significantly more challenging than anticipated, particularly amidst the pandemic. We highlight several best practices and offer tips on identifying suitable candidates and facilitating their long-term success within the new organization.

The Challenge:

When it comes to recruiting the right individuals and ensuring a smooth onboarding process, many companies consider face-to-face meetings essential. However, given the current circumstances and likely future challenges, achieving this is often impractical. Unfortunately, the dynamics of in-person interviews cannot seamlessly translate into a purely virtual setting.


In a (partially) remote work environment, mastering virtual recruitment and onboarding processes provides a competitive edge in attracting and retaining top talent.
Considering recruitment expenses, time invested in new hires, and the risk of unsuccessful onboarding, it becomes evident that failed initiatives come at a significant cost.

According to Harvard Business Review, integrating a new employee and achieving optimal performance typically takes about six months. Moreover, the initial year of employment is deemed critical, as it poses the highest risk of new hire failure. Consequently, it’s advisable for companies to plan onboarding activities spanning at least six months to mitigate risks.

Replacement costs for mid-level managers exceed 150% of their annual salary, while for executives and top specialists, these costs can soar up to 400%.

Quelle: TLNT

The Solution:

Establishing an environment that fosters a sense of belonging — both to the people and the organizational culture — is imperative. It hinges on aligning fundamental values and cultural ethos with potential candidates, a sentiment that should be cultivated early in the recruitment process.

While many companies excel at evaluating core values during in-person interviews, assessing traits like resilience, openness, and passion through virtual platforms like Zoom or MS Teams poses challenges.

Initially, companies saw definite advantages in transitioning to remote work for their hiring processes: No rigid calendars, no fixed locations, costly travels, etc. Consequently, the relevant processes were quickly virtualized. Some video interviews, visits to the company website, followed by presentations in MS Teams meetings…

However, reality proved more complex, with many encountering difficulties in adapting to virtual recruitment. Interviewers often felt disoriented initially, and new hires reported feelings of isolation and superficiality. The importance of understanding corporate culture was sometimes overlooked. Despite initial uncertainties during the pandemic’s early months, both companies and candidates gradually acknowledged the necessity of making or accepting offers without in-person interactions.

After eight months of operating under virtual communication conditions, many companies recognized the potential of choreographing a compelling virtual candidate experience to differentiate themselves and gain a competitive edge. Meanwhile, initial best practices are emerging:

The key is to establish a rapid connection to the company, its employees, and its culture without relying solely on face-to-face meetings.

4 Tips for Virtual Onboarding:


Create a structured onboarding program. High intensity at the beginning, significant reduction in formal meetings after a few weeks.


Incorporate short breaks between meetings, during which you can pretend to grab coffee, walk along the office corridors, or collaborate in workgroups


Utilize it judiciously. Not everyone enjoys being in front of the camera all day.


The more senior the new hire, the easier they find virtual onboarding. They are often more experienced, for example, in knowing how regularly they should communicate with direct supervisors and how to build relationships with colleagues.

Many companies have transitioned to scheduling uninterrupted blocks of four to five-hour meetings, resulting in prolonged screen time without breaks For coffee lovers, this means no coffee breaks in between, no detours to the office of nearby colleagues, no change of scenery. By now, we all know how much such a day drains us. By now, the calendars look different.

To combat this, newly hired managers can leverage virtual onboarding to schedule brief calls and video conferences with C-level executives for introductions, accelerating the process compared to traditional methods. Under normal circumstances, it would take several weeks to build up such a level of familiarity. Additionally, top management acknowledges the growing importance of the candidate experience in virtual recruitment, prompting a desire for enhanced interview training.

As we gain confidence in managing virtual recruiting, experiences from 2020 demonstrate that well-structured onboarding processes foster a sense of belonging and enhance satisfaction among all stakeholders.