Technology Can Make Onboarding a Welcoming Experience

According to Aberdeen Group’s 2014 research, only 32% of companies have a formal onboarding process in place. With so much depending on the success of newcomers’ induction – work efficiency, job satisfaction, and ultimately, staff retention — why is the figure so low?

Perhaps, the answer is in the organizational complexity of onboarding. HR and line managers have to come together to help hires assimilate and ramp them up to full productivity in the shortest time possible.

Apart from shrinking the period between start and full productivity, onboarding should serve to build strong links between a newcomer and the company. These links can be strong enough only if a hire’s first experience with the employer isn’t tarnished by, say, struggles to access a corporate account or frustration over the lack of communication. Unfortunately, regular meetings with a line manager (if any) will hardly cover such gaps, especially if a new hire hushes it all up striving to make a good impression.

Onboarding software can make the process more consistent and let employees dive into their job faster. For sure, IT is not a magic stick, and you can’t automate the parts that heavily rely on human relations. So, let’s focus on the areas where onboarding software is most applicable, no matter whether it’s an out-of-the-box product or a custom solution.

Onboarding software brings order

HR departments with dozens of hires per week can become overwhelmed with employee documentation and can hardly snatch a moment for creating a positive company experience for every new hire. Onboarding software organizes and manages employee induction, automating the documentation, training and progress tracking, all in a single application.

Pre-boarding activities

The practice to start onboarding activities before day one is highly effective in building excitement in the new hire as well as reducing the likelihood of a no-show. For example, the system can automatically send welcoming emails to newcomers, reminding about the needed documents, e.g. security cards, passports, driving licenses. Or else, it can provide a link to where hires log in to submit forms and upload the required documents. Along these lines, sharing some basic information about the company and planned onboarding activities for day one will be equally helpful.

HR and hiring managers can use the onboarding software to create to-do lists (e.g. to set up a workstation, issue a badge, etc.) and tick items off that require the participation of relevant departments. Some of the tasks can be fulfilled automatically via integrations with the company’s other systems. For example, integration with the ITSM system will automate the submission of requests for creating your new employee’s account.

Onboarding plans

No matter whether onboarding lasts for 7 or 90 days, through digital onboarding plans, both line and HR managers can get a clear view of employees’ induction process and see whether all aspects are covered, starting with office orientation to post-onboarding feedback. Configuring reusable plan templates for similar jobs in the future can also spare their time.

New hires can get quick, single-click access to all the essential information through their personal onboarding dashboards. This can include employee handbook, documents describing the company’s benefits, as well as guides to using the software and equipment necessary for daily activities. Some space on the dashboard should be left for the links to the corporate assets, such as the intranet, task and time tracking systems, as well as the enterprise systems — such as ERP, CRM or CMS – they will use most frequently.

Training

Many onboarding systems include access to introductory training materials, self-check quizzes, and tests submitted for review to the line manager. Integrated with a learning management system, the onboarding solution can make training more effective and diverse. Once intro training is complete, some systems will even calculate scores for every employee and offer clues as to what kind of learner they are.

Progress tracking

One more feature of onboarding software is that it simplifies tracking. As hires go from one onboarding stage to another, HR and line managers can see where they are in the process and address bottlenecks early. A field for comments is a fine option for the line manager to keep in touch with the new employee. Automated messages will remind both the manager and the employee about upcoming face-to-face progress meetings.

Onboarding software raises engagement

New employees’ first impression of their company influences their overall satisfaction with the new workplace, as well as their productivity and their willingness to refer friends or acquaintance. Onboarding software can go beyond automating HR activities to trigger employee engagement and loyalty.

Game-like experience

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Introduction to the company and its policies can actually be fun if you use gamification elements. Consider a digital tour around the office or an in-company navigator guiding the hire through the company’s departments to conference rooms, lunch room and, especially usefully, the bathrooms. Moreover, the software can incorporate various in-company quest games with achievements to unlock virtual badges.

Performance fueled by interaction

Interaction makes new employees’ assimilation faster, and onboarding software that integrates with a company communications network – Slack, for example – enables the newbie to ask questions and share problems and experiences with each other. Connected with peers, hires will be able to collaborate freely and thus feel more comfortable from the very first moments in the company.

A second option is “buddy” assistance. For a newbie, it can be a psychological challenge to quickly blend into the established team. Yet only 32% of organizations provide a “buddy” for new hires. With onboarding software, being a “buddy” becomes a less demanding task. Via a chat function, the “buddy” can reach out to the new employee inviting them to social events or to share corporate news. With such support, a hire will feel more welcome in the organization.

A comprehensive support, welcoming environment and engaging experience from the first moments trigger employees’ motivation for a productive and long-term relationship with the company. Onboarding software can make new hires’ orientation more interactive, manageable and transparent, no matter how long the process. In addition, it lets HR and the new worker’s manager get a comprehensive view of how the new hire is adapting, alerting them both to time lags and problems.

Tatiana Lebedzeva

Tatiana Lebedzeva is a business analyst at ScienceSoft, a software development and consulting company headquartered in McKinney, Texas. With 3+ years as a human resources manager, Tatiana applies her practical knowledge in the areas of staff performance, HR administration, and HR software to come up with custom solutions that can assist companies in HR activities with a focus on achieving their strategic goals.