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Planning Engaging Onboarding Experiences In-Person or Remotely

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Providing effective onboarding experiences will help engage new hires, acclimate them more quickly to the district, and, in the long run, increase retention.

Asking new employees to sit through hours of presentations and viewing slides, in person or virtually, is not an effective way to welcome them to your organization. Providing district, campus, department, and specific job information in more engaging ways will help employees retain new information and begin connecting with co-workers. Additionally, it provides an opportunity for leaders to model the district’s innovative teaching and learning philosophies.

Technology Saves Time

There is a lot of information to give new employees and routine paperwork to complete during the orientation, the first phase of onboarding. Human resources can free up valuable time by using electronic processes and technology tools to get the mundane stuff done before the first day on the job, such as new hire paperwork and signing up for benefits. Set up new employees’ email access and other accounts before they arrive so they receive district information and utilize technology resources to access organization charts, handbooks, procedures, policies, and job resources.

Engaging Activities

Think about what information you want to relay in each phase of onboarding, then think of creative ways to deliver the information to new employees. Whether the onboarding is in person or virtual, break up the schedule by changing arrangements, rotate through stations, adjust from large to small groups, move locations, or even go outside. Some other engaging activities to consider include:

  • Use interactive video conferencing where new hires can view the other participants, be moved into small groups or partnerships, or enter chat rooms
  • Introduce a partner in a creative way
  • Work off a theme or motto
  • Provide music, jokes, or interesting district tidbits during breaks
  • Insert games such as scavenger hunts or bingo
  • Use cell phones apps such as KAHOOT! to provide interactive competitions or polls/surveys
  • Create learning groups using individual interests
  • Make activities hands-on by providing sorting or matching activities
  • Have groups write notes on chart tablets to display for the group, then share out or preview through gallery walks
  • Have a buddy system
  • Provide a book or resource that ties in with the district vision and mission
  • Make it social with face-to-face or virtual lunch or after hour events
  • Bring in restaurants or provide take-out
  • Challenge new employees to create something that they will use the first weeks on the job such as their classroom home page or welcome letter to parents
  • Take bus tours or virtual tours of campuses, district buildings, and the town/city

Choose activities based on your audience as well as what information you’re delivering.

Evaluating the Onboarding Experience

Collecting information from new employees about the onboarding experience is important so the process can be continually improved. Feedback can be collected during and immediately after the orientation through surveys and informal conversations. TASB HR Services provides a sample new hire survey that can be used to collect information later in the year. The survey can be used for all employee groups and includes a special section for teachers.

Follow Up with Relevant Onboarding Sessions

Providing engaging initial experiences for new hires will not only be fun but will increase their participation in the process, facilitate the development of positive relationships with other employees, and help them gain confidence in their new job. Following up throughout the year with relevant onboarding activities should occur to accelerate new employees’ performance, productivity, confidence, and sense of belonging.


More information about onboarding and orientation is available in these HR Services resources:

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Cheryl Hoover
Cheryl Hoover

Cheryl Hoover joined HR Services in 2018. She assists with staffing and HR reviews, training, and other HR projects. During Hoover’s public school career, she served as an executive director of curriculum and principal leadership, executive director of human resources, principal, assistant principal, teacher, and coach.

Hoover earned her bachelor’s degree from The University of Texas at Austin and obtained her master’s degree from Texas State University. She is a certified PHR.

HR Services

TASB HR Services supports HR leadership in Texas schools through membership offerings in specialized training, consulting, and other services.
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