When someone takes a job with your company, that’s your cue to start connecting with them. And today, there are tools for onboarding that can help you do just that.
As digitalization has accelerated these past few years, it’s empowered companies to take charge of their onboarding process. And in this era of the Great Resignation, securing employee loyalty from day one has never been more important.
But this mass employee exodus doesn’t mean they’re dropping out of the workforce altogether. It means they’re looking for new jobs. So companies need to be prepared for a period of mass onboarding.
But despite all of the digital advancements in business processes, so many companies are still following the old onboarding playbook, with time-consuming, manual paperwork and impersonal orientations.
It’s time for organizations to use new employee onboarding tools to create deliberate strategies that set the new team member up for success and boost retention.
Why Is Employee Onboarding Important?
Before we dive into why onboarding is so important, let’s start with this question: What is onboarding?
Onboarding is the period of time when an applicant accepts a job offer through their first day on the job, and as they get up and running and into the groove of their new position.
Gallup’s onboarding research discovered that it can take up to 12 months for workers to really hit their stride.
Onboarding is much more than logistics and filling out the new-hire paperwork, like tax information and picking health insurance plans. It’s a journey of a new employee becoming integrated into the company, the culture, and their role.
So, why is onboarding so important?
The employee experience begins the moment an offer of employment is accepted and extends until the person leaves the company.
Engaging an employee as soon as they sign on the dotted line is already leading to a greater chance that they’ll stay with the company longer. In other words: you don’t have a second to waste!
Onboarding is a critical period of time for engaging and connecting with employees so they feel like part of the team from day one. And let’s face it, numbers don’t lie.
- 40% of workers are thinking of jumping ship and heading to another company
- And 20% of new hires quit within the first 45 days
- Today’s cost per hire is about $4,700. The higher your company’s turnover, the more you’ll spend on recruiting and hiring
- Companies that have a deliberate, formal onboarding strategy can boost retention among new hires by 50%
What Is Employee Onboarding Software?
Employee onboarding software is a technology that streamlines the onboarding process for new hires. Think of it as a digital on-ramp.
It automates and manages all of the routine paperwork and forms that new hires have to fill out, and often has a dashboard that helps HR track each step of the process as new hires complete each task. It also helps ensure compliance with all of the employment rules and regulations companies need to stay on top of.
But the must-have onboarding tools for new employees can do much more than simply digitize paperwork. Some are bigger platforms that span the employee lifecycle, foster communication, track productivity, offer training capabilities, and have payroll and scheduling access. Just to name a few examples of what a more robust onboarding tool can do!
Benefits Of Implementing Employee Onboarding Tools
For many companies, keeping things as they’ve always been is an easy choice. Why change how you do things when they seem to work just fine? But onboarding is a pivotal moment in the employee lifecycle, a make or break moment, and often a time when an employee figures out if this is a company they want to stick with.
All too often, administrative teams waste valuable time manually handling the onboarding process—printing paperwork, getting papers to the right people, filing, organizing, and then searching for paperwork. Onboarding software automates all of that. Paperwork becomes digital making it easy to send, sign, and store all documents in one centralized place.
That also means that all company policies and procedures can be stored on the same system, making it easy for workers to access on their own, especially with a mobile-first software program.
(To learn why this is important, read more about compliance down below.)
Boosts Employee Engagement
As the saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. The employee experience begins the moment they accept a job offer. From that moment on, every encounter they have with the company sets the tone and how they feel about their employer.
A digital onboarding program makes their first experiences with their new employer easy and seamless. And on more robust onboarding programs, there is a communication component so colleagues can say hello and welcome new employees to the team.
Why is it so important to engage from that very first moment?
Employees who have a good onboarding are 18 times more likely to feel connected and committed to their new company.
Most companies are required to follow any number of state and federal regulations related to employees. And it’s during the hiring process that companies really need to pay attention and make sure they’re following all of the various requirements.
For example, companies must inform new hires of their rights as employees, like paid time off. They must provide benefit options and information. They must acquire signed tax forms and paperwork that states a person has the legal right to work in the country.
They must share legal and policy information with new hires, and sometimes even need to get a signature on those documents. An onboarding software program can centralize all of that information to ensure a company stays in compliance with the ever-expanding rules and regulations that involve its workforce.
Eases The Onboarding Process
Only 12% of people feel their company does a good job of onboarding.
Creating a smoother, easier process with HR onboarding tools simplifies the process and makes it less fractured and clunky. All of the necessary documents are in one place and workers can check them off their list as they go so they can focus on learning the ropes and meeting their new colleagues. Automating this process makes it easier for HR teams too, who are often onboarding more than one person at a time.
Supports the New Nature of Work
Work has gone through a rapid evolution over the past two years beginning with the COVID-19 pandemic that changed the nature of work practically overnight.
- More people work remotely now than ever before, and there’s no sign that they’ll go back to the office full time.
- Frontline workers quickly became recognized (finally!) as essential workers. Companies suddenly realized that they need all of the same digital tools and access to information that desk-based workers need.
Workers are used to conducting much of their personal and professional lives online, especially on their mobile devices. They’ll happily embrace a digital onboarding process.
Faster process for Faster Time to Productivity
The onboarding process is a lot faster when it’s done through a software program. New hires can complete paperwork online and often right on their mobile devices. This means the new employee can reach their full potential faster, and become a productive, value-generating member of the team sooner.
Frees Up HR Capacity
Onboarding is only one of the many jobs that HR teams are responsible for. But it is a time-consuming, repetitive process. By moving onboarding procedures (like paperwork, training, etc.) onto a digital platform, HR teams have more time for other jobs (like benefits administration) and also for value-add responsibilities that can benefit the company, like employee recruiting, employee engagement strategies, and managing the employee lifecycle to boost retention.
Digitizing and automating any business process can save a company money, and onboarding is no different. It’s more efficient and saves time. It gets new hires up and running sooner and contributes to the company’s mission faster. And simply saving on all of that paper saves companies money (not to mention it’s more sustainable).
Many new jobs require some sort of training for new hires, whether it’s for legal reasons (like workplace protocol training) or job-specific training. Companies have traditionally relied on inefficient training methods, like on-the-spot training if someone happens to be around to explain how to perform a certain task. But that prolongs the onboarding process and extends the period of time before an employee is fully productive.
An onboarding tool creates a space for employers to offer training to new employees, whether it’s a handbook or a video. Employees will then also have that training information accessible on their mobile devices and can refer back to it as needed rather than relying on a coworker to help them out.
What Features Should You Look Out For?
Employee onboarding software is becoming a growing part of HR’s technology stack. But not all onboarding platforms are built the same. Here are a few of the features you should look for to get the most mileage from your onboarding tool.
80% of the world’s workforce is on the frontlines. They’re in hospitality, retail, manufacturing, construction, and healthcare. In fact, there are few industries that don’t rely on frontline workers in some capacity. Every onboarding platform should be a mobile-first solution. That means people can take care of all of their requirements right on their smartphone or other preferred mobile devices.
And just an FYI: mobile onboarding is good for every worker, whether they’re at a desk or the frontlines. Today, more than half of global internet traffic is through mobile devices rather than any other type of technology. It’s how people prefer to connect and communicate.
Some HR technology is general in scope. Make sure to find a platform that has a dedicated onboarding portal. Onboarding is a unique period in the employee lifecycle with very specific requirements and processes. Glassdoor found that companies with a strong onboarding process increased productivity by 70%. So why bother investing in software unless it gives you the best possible advantage?
We all have different tools we like to use for different work needs. With the right onboarding software, you don’t have to drop what you’re familiar with. Rather, find software that can integrate with programs you already use.
Knowledge Transfer Management
During an employee’s time at your company (which averaged 4.3 years just before the pandemic) they collect institutional knowledge and have developed all sorts of methods to operate in the most effective and efficient ways. But when that employee leaves they risk taking all of the information with them. That wealth of information needs to be gathered and stored so new hires don’t need to start from scratch.
A solid onboarding software will have a document library where your company can keep training materials, employee-written handbooks, and even how-to videos for certain processes. Pass that knowledge down from one generation to the next.
Pro tip: In addition to digital knowledge transfer, establish a mentorship program in your company and pair new employees with a senior member of your team to solidify institutional knowledge and forge connections.
As you already know, there are a lot of moving parts to employee onboarding. And keeping track of which new employee has completed what form is half the battle. The main reason for digitizing the process is to make it easier. So make sure you find a software program with task management capabilities that can track and manage your onboarding to-do list for both you and your new hires.
Onboarding is a repetitive process, and there’s no need to reinvent the wheel for every new employee who walks through the door. Having digital templates for every piece of communication needed during onboarding, like offer letters, can save you time and money. But just because they’re templates doesn’t mean they’re stale and impersonal. These templates are easily customizable so each new hire receives a personalized onboarding package tailored just for them.
Best Employee Onboarding Tools
There are a lot of options when it comes to tools for onboarding new employees. But some platforms are more robust and offer the features a company needs to reap the rewards of a strong onboarding process.
Beekeeper is a mobile-first communication and productivity platform designed for the frontline workforce. While it’s an all-around operational solution with features to connect, engage, and empower frontline workers, Beekeeper includes an onboarding solution to bring new hires up to speed faster at less cost. It centralizes documents, eliminates paperwork, has customizable templates, and also gives employers a place to offer training all in one place for a seamless onboarding experience. With a commitment to helping companies maximize employee engagement, Beekeeper’s onboarding solution connects companies to their frontline workers from the moment they’re hired.
Juno is an employee development platform that begins with onboarding. With a template library and customizable learning schedules, and analytics that tracks onboarding progress, Juno is designed to guide workers through onboarding and into their new roles.
BambooHR is a people analytics platform with an onboarding component. It engages new hires with a personalized onboarding and a streamlined process that accelerates time to productivity. The company also knows the importance of workplace connections and the platform makes sure to connect people with their new teammates. (It also offers an offboarding feature to help companies gain valuable insights from outgoing employees and learn how to improve their operations.)
Intellihr is an HR software program that features an onboarding platform that includes welcome emails and streamlined workflows that ensure compliance. It also offers a check-in system and enables employee feedback to optimize the chances of success. Like Bamboohr, it also offers an offboarding feature so companies can gather feedback at the end of the employee lifecycle.
Monday.com is work-management software that has a wider range of capabilities than other programs, including tools for CRM and marketing. While it’s a little less about the warm fuzzies of welcoming a new hire and more about the analytics, the onboarding portal has robust check-list and analytic tools to enable a swift, easy, and data-driven onboarding process. It integrates with other software programs, like Dropbox, to bring all relevant information into one place.
Zenefits is a people operations HR tool with a focus on payroll and benefits. But it also includes well-rounded HR features, including a mobile-friendly onboarding system. Like Monday.com, the focus here is to streamline the process with strong integrations and an all-in-one platform where companies can make an offer, send acceptance letters, request background checks and new hires can access and sign documents from a computer or mobile device. It’s a nuts-and-bolts program that really focuses on the logistics of onboarding.
Tools for Onboarding: The Final Digital Frontier
These days it seems like every aspect of business operations has gone digital. But many organizations still rely on outdated, inefficient onboarding that only delays time to productivity for every new hire.
It’s time to embrace tools for onboarding to streamline the process, reduce costs, and engage employees from the second they say yes.