November 22, 2021

The Onboarding Checklist for Successfully Starting Your Virtual Assistant

When you hire a new virtual assistant, you want them to be up-to-speed as quickly as possible.

Your virtual assistant onboarding process plays a key role in their success and in ensuring that things go as smoothly as possible. An onboarding checklist is a key tool to use, allowing you to systematically introduce your virtual assistant to key parts of the business and their work.

It’s not just for the sake of your business, but for the sake of the virtual assistant too. If you put yourself in their shoes - having little or no guidance on what they’re supposed to be doing greatly impairs their ability to get work done. This can be incredibly frustrating!

Why is onboarding so important?

To give some context, Process St wrote about some research that was done into employees and the onboarding experience. A key piece of data was that good onboarding improves employee retention by 25% and overall performance by 11%.

Why worry about putting in place a VA onboarding checklist? It’s about structure - employees who participate in a structured onboarding program are 69% more likely to stay with an organization for three years.

Putting time and attention into how to onboard a virtual assistant allows them to feel valued and to show that you are enthusiastic to have them join your team. On the other hand, lack of onboarding can feel like lack of caring, or like the new employee is being set up to fail. 15% of employees said the lack of an effective onboarding program aided in their decision to quit.

onboarding checklist

We get it, sometimes certain things get neglected, but a good onboarding checklist gets an employee started off well every time. It’s a repeatable process, creating efficiency for your business.

Here are some important onboarding checklist items to consider:

onboarding checklist

Set up permissions

Keep a checklist of tools that you use for which you will need to set up permissions for new employees. This may not look the same for every team member, but some basics will probably be universal. For example, communication channels such as Slack and project management tools such as Trello or Asana.

One of the easiest ways to go about this is to set up a company email for the new virtual assistant. This way, everything work-related is attached to that company email.

onboarding checklist

You might wonder, why do this? Why not simply use whatever their own email address is? Well, a company email address makes it simple to manage permissions. If the employee were to move on, you’d simply deactivate their company email address, making it easy to revoke permissions. (Side note: this is something that many businesses forget about! You don’t want former employees having access to your business' inner-workings…)

After creating the email address, you would add the virtual assistant to every channel or tool that they need to be part of. You will need to ensure that they’re given the right level of permissions to do the tasks they will be in charge of. Getting this right the first time is important - entire days can be wasted while people wait for a response on a request for permissions.

Following on from this, ensure that the virtual assistant is provided with the basics of how to use the tool. Don’t assume that they’ll already know how it operates!

onboarding checklist

Introduce to the team

Even if your team is based virtually, it’s important to introduce the new team member promptly. How awkward is it when you know no one, you’re expected to interact with them, but no one has introduced you?

Besides making for a warmer welcome, taking the time to introduce the new virtual assistant breaks down those awkward barriers. 

onboarding checklist

A “virtual tour” could be arranged via video call, for example, perhaps with each team member introducing themselves and saying a bit about what they do.

If your virtual assistant is your first hire, include this step anyway! It’s still important that they are familiar with you and how you like to work. Forming personal connections helps remote employees to be more engaged and invested in the business.

Orient them with your company

This next part may occur before you introduce the new virtual assistant to the team, but regardless, it’s an important step. Orienting new employees with your company means helping them to understand more about the very culture of your business.

When new team members are hired for office-based jobs, they often spend a decent amount of time within their first week learning things like:

  • Company background
  • Company vision and values
  • Company policies (for example work times, breaks, leave …)
  • Company goals
  • Goals for the job role
  • Key responsibilities
  • The structure of the company - who is everyone and what do they do?

Providing a good overview of the company helps to give the new virtual assistant some vital context for their work. For example, understanding company goals helps to provide clarity around some of the things they will do in their work.

onboarding checklist

Explain the steps for their tasks

Having policies and procedures in place for your new virtual assistant to follow is a key part of the onboarding process. You can never assume that someone will automatically know how to do something and having clearly documented processes helps to make tasks repeatable. For example, you can hand a documented process to someone else, or, an employee can refer back to the documents if they have questions.

It is helpful if you can provide a good description of the tasks to be done.

Vague directions such as “create contact list” don’t help to provide the context the virtual assistant needs.

A good description might include the goal behind the task, for example; “create a contact list of all prospects who signed up via webinar, so that we might send them targeted webinar offers.”

The key is that documenting processes is a better use of your time. You could fire off emails or messages via your Slack channel, but you’re going to have to do this every time for the same task. Documenting gives you scalability.

onboarding checklist

Set clear expectations

Setting clear expectations from the beginning is very important for starting the relationship on the right foot. You need to let the new virtual assistant know what they can expect from you as a boss, and what you expect from them as an employee.

For example, you might set expectations around:

  • How you communicate and provide feedback
  • How deadlines are set and adhered to
  • What to do if a deadline will be missed
  • How to communicate if a day off is required, say for illness
  • How progress is tracked and the role the VA plays in tracking
  • How performance is managed and accountability is valued
  • The key responsibilities of the role
  • When and how they get paid
  • Expectations of work hours and days

Final Thoughts

New virtual assistants will need to go through an onboarding process prior to getting started working for you. It's also important to make sure they feel welcomed and valued!

An excellent way of doing this is by creating a checklist during the time of hire, which can help keep everything in order from beginning-to end--including how often new staff members should be vetted (every week or month).

Get your employees started on the right foot - pay attention to the onboarding process and have it dialed in efficiently.

For more information about how virtual assistants can help you and your business grow, you can read our Ultimate Guide to Virtual Assistants where we break down everything you need to know about virtual assistants from how you can hire one to how you can overcome the challenges that you might face when you have one.


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