Onboarding has traditionally been a paper-heavy process for employers and a grueling rite of passage for new employees. Today, many companies are onboarding new hires completely online.
In the past, bringing a new employee on board typically required the use of reams of paper, coordination with multiple internal departments and hours of HR staff time.
Utilizing an online approach enables the company to cut costs, reduce the amount of time for an employee to be productive, and improves employee retention by displaying a well-thought-out and streamlined onboarding process.
One important advantage is that this process allows overworked managers to follow an automated onboarding “checklist” and ensure a consistent and repeatable process even during peak hiring waves.
Equally as important is the fact that onboarding is an important component of a new employee’s initial impression of the company.
As one expert said, there’s nothing worse than a company that brands itself as contemporary and progressive but “welcomes” a new hire with hours of old-school paperwork.
“You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Most employees decide by their first lunch break whether or not they will stay long-term with an organization,” said Kimberley Kasper, vice president, SMB and talent-grid marketing for Taleo. “The onboarding process can be a major reason why new hires decide not to stay. If an employee is making his or her decision this quickly, you need to have a solid onboarding process long before you even think about hiring them. There are no ‘do-overs.’ ”
Online onboarding systems get the basics out of the way quickly so that a new employee’s first day can be a true welcome, focusing on corporate culture, vision and goals.
Onboard systems can be especially helpful when a large number of employees need to be brought up to speed in a short time, such as during periods of seasonal hiring or after a corporate merger.
Kasper recommends the following when considering online onboarding:
- A scalable and flexible system that can easily adapt to changing legal requirements and speed new employees’ time-to-productivity during peak hiring waves.
- Onboard systems should offer a portal for new employees, a forms-management component and a task-management function that facilitates communication with other internal departments. The best solutions are offered through a hosted, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model.
- Seek out a solution that can easily integrate with applicant tracking, background check, performance management and learning systems.
- Content should be customized to reflect the company’s brand, structure and unique needs. During the implementation phase, tailor the onboarding experience based on job type and location so new hires and their managers see only the fields, forms and tasks relevant to their positions.
Other features Kasper says to watch for include:
- Dependent task capabilities that allow HR teams to designate the order of various onboarding tasks, so the system automatically assigns new tasks upon the completion of others.
- Configurable forms: administrators can add unlimited, customized company forms that collect and track information that becomes part of the employee record – avoid lengthy and costly service engagements.
Programs such as Employee Life Cycle Management reduces administrative burden and improves the communication and collection of information relating to events such as a change in employment status or signing a new employee handbook.