Onboarding Automation: How To Make It Work

Onboarding Automation: How To Make It Work
PeopleImages.com - Yuri A/Shutterstock.com
Summary: What are the best ways to implement onboarding automation? Who benefits most from it? Find everything you need to know about automating your onboarding strategy in this article.

All The Information You Need About Onboarding Automation

You have decided to welcome new members to your corporate family, but the onboarding process can be long and tiring. Fortunately, onboarding automation can help you tackle tasks like paperwork management, training, and orientation, as they can be fully automated with the right software. In the past, onboarding used to be done manually. HR teams would have piles of paperwork ready for new employees to complete, IT would configure computer setups, and managers would arrange initial meetings. This method was slow and at times chaotic, which could make new hires feel stressed and lost.

However, over the past few years, many companies have adopted onboarding automation to streamline and enhance the onboarding process. So, what exactly does this mean? In simple terms, it means using technology to automate and standardize the tasks and workflows involved in bringing new employees into the organization. Onboarding automation, though, is also about creating a welcoming and engaging experience for new hires. A well-executed onboarding process can lead to increased job satisfaction, productivity, and retention rates. So, by using onboarding automation to fully prepare newcomers from day one, you can set the stage for long-term success and employee well-being.

Automation can also extend beyond the initial onboarding process. For example, companies can use automated systems to deliver training materials, set goals and objectives, and conduct performance reviews. This not only saves time and reduces administrative burden but also ensures that employees are continuously supported and engaged throughout their tenure. So, whether you're a new hire excited to start your journey with a company or an HR professional looking to streamline your onboarding process, onboarding automation is likely to play a key role in shaping the future of work. Let's dive into the term more and see how it benefits both the company and the employees.

Onboarding Options: Manual Vs. Automated

Now that we've briefly covered what onboarding automation is, we need to elaborate on why it's preferable to manual. For a start, manual employee onboarding can cause numerous problems for the new hire and your company. The primary issue is that it's a time-consuming process that requires HR staff to complete paperwork and manage other logistical tasks. This diverts their focus from more strategic activities, like employee management and development. Then, since the risk of human error is higher, manual onboarding can lead to inconsistencies and missed deadlines or incomplete tasks. There's also the danger of miscommunication, which leads to confused and frustrated employees and hurts your company's reputation. All the above can contribute to higher turnover rates, as new employees feel disconnected from your organization.

eBook Release: The State Of Employee Experience 2023
eBook Release
The State Of Employee Experience 2023
Explore upcoming corporate culture trends and how employee experience can be improved via improving onboarding, training, and employee engagement.

How To Automate Employee Onboarding

HR Information System (HRIS)

An HRIS is a platform that usually automates most of the administrative tasks involved in onboarding, which take up much of your HR staff's time. It allows your HR team to manage employee data, complete paperwork, and schedule meetings or training sessions with ease. Also, the team can create personalized onboarding checklists and workflows for every new hire's needs while making sure the process is aligned with the company's culture.

Learning Management System

A Learning Management System (LMS) can be used to automate the training and development components of the employee onboarding process, thereby improving its effectiveness. Specifically, an LMS provides a central location for all training and development activities and reduces the likelihood of missed training sessions. Additionally, it can promote consistency since all employees will receive the same training content. Most LMSs also have a feature for tracking the employees' progress, allowing your HR team to evaluate the process's effectiveness.

Virtual Onboarding Platform

A virtual onboarding platform can be used for pre-onboarding activities, like sharing important information and company policies with new hires. The platform can also assign a virtual onboarding buddy to help the new member adjust and acclimate through virtual tours or collaboration with other employees. Most importantly, it offers your HR team the chance to evaluate the process at every step and provide feedback.

Paperwork Processing Software And Digital Forms

Although most onboarding programs include a feature for documents and paperwork, it might be beneficial to have separate software for this purpose. These platforms allow your new hires to digitally sign documents, making the process easier. You can also monitor the status of the paperwork collection and set reminders for deadlines. On the other hand, digital forms collect and store new employee data. This can include contact information and emergency contact details. The forms are completed online or through an onboarding automation platform with this feature, so the information is stored in a central location, which reduces the need for physical paperwork and improves accessibility.

Automated Workflows

Automated workflows can automate every step in the onboarding process. You're able to create a new hire checklist as an automated workflow to guide your HR staff through every step without overlooking any important details. You can also create reminders to send to employees throughout onboarding and manage data more effectively. Ideally, you should be able to integrate them with other systems to ensure that you seamlessly monitor every activity.

What Are The Pros Of An Automated Onboarding Process?

Accuracy And Consistency

Onboarding automation can reduce errors and inconsistencies in data entry. This leads to more accurate and reliable information. Also, important tasks like background checks on new employees, drug testing, and reference checks can be easily streamlined. Consequently, this creates a consistent onboarding experience for every new member and reduces the time-to-hire.

Compliance

Automation can help ensure compliance with many legal and regulatory requirements. Compliance is critical for your company in order to avoid costly fines and penalties or legal liabilities. For instance, your onboarding platform can provide access to the latest versions of legal forms and documents. Also, it will help you stay compliant with employment laws and regulations related to equal employment opportunities, antidiscrimination, and workplace safety.

Improved Engagement

Employees will feel more connected to their workplace and colleagues since onboarding automation will create an engaging and interactive onboarding experience. Furthermore, the onboarding automation will help the new hires better understand their role and how their work contributes to the company's overall goals and success. Your new employees will have opportunities for feedback and collaboration in order to increase productivity and help your company achieve better results.

Cost Savings

Onboarding automation saves time by reducing the amount of manual work needed for the activities, thus allowing your HR staff to concentrate on more important things. Also, by providing new hires with a streamlined and personalized onboarding experience, your company ensures a low turnover rate, thus reducing new hire training costs.

Improved Data Analytics

Collecting data on the onboarding process, such as completion rates or employee satisfaction, can help your company gain insights into the effectiveness of your program and identify areas for improvement. Similarly, you can track and analyze metrics related to new hire productivity and performance.

Faster Onboarding

Automated onboarding speeds up the whole process by eliminating the need for manual data entry and paperwork, which can be time-consuming and prone to errors. Automated onboarding also includes self-service portals and prebuilt workflows that ensure new hires don't miss any important tasks or deadlines.

Better Understanding Of Company Culture

New hires feel more connected and certain of their place in your organization since all the information and resources are immediately available. Through collaboration with other colleagues, they will be comfortable and find out more about the company's culture and practices to acclimate more quickly.

Reduced Stress

An onboarding process that's automated and clear, with constant support and a user-friendly onboarding platform, can alleviate stress. Also, automating administrative tasks such as filling out forms helps new hires focus on more important and meaningful tasks that better prepare them for their role.

Top Practices For Successful Onboarding Automation

Identify Goals And Objectives

What do you hope to achieve with your onboarding program? Are you looking to improve efficiency, increase engagement, reduce turnover, or ensure compliance? The answers to these questions will allow you to improve outcomes while also reducing costs. At the same time, you need to make sure that your process aligns with your company goals and supports them. Finally, identify the difficulties you may face and determine how automation can solve them.

Create A Clear Plan

An onboarding plan outlines the steps involved in welcoming new employees, from their first day on the job to their full integration into the company. It usually includes a detailed timeline to ensure everyone involved in the onboarding process is aware of what needs to be done and by when. Your plan should also include the required paperwork, along with instructions on how to complete each form and where to submit it. Also, keep a communication plan so that your new hires will be informed throughout the process. Having a clear view of the process you'll automate reduces confusion, delays, and errors that can put your objectives in jeopardy.

Make It Engaging

Incorporating multimedia elements, like videos, images, and games, can help to engage your new team members from day one. Your content should also be interactive, preferably with a reward system to motivate your new hires. Also, set clear instructions and expectations, accompanied by all of the necessary resources. These can include a digital library, industry reports, or case studies.

Assign Mentors To New Hires

Your HR team can't monitor every single process, even if it's automated. Assign a mentor to each new hire to be responsible for monitoring their progress by checking the automation software. Plus, new employees will know that there will always be someone by their side to turn to for questions or concerns. The mentor should be experienced in the same role and know how to actively listen, provide constructive feedback, and help with individual goal setting.

Leverage Technology

There are more automation tools to consider, like chatbots or Virtual Reality (VR).  For example, chatbots can be used as an FAQ system to aid your new hires in their moment of need. They can be programmed to answer frequently asked questions and provide links to relevant resources. Also, chatbots are able to arrange meetings and appointments so that everyone involved in the onboarding process stays on track.

Make The Process Consistent

To ensure consistency, develop standard operating procedures to outline who's responsible for each task and the timeline for completion. Also, provide clear communication to new hires on what to expect during the procedure. However, the most crucial part of consistency is using a centralized onboarding platform to ensure that all your new hires will receive the same onboarding experience across the board.

Measure And Analyze Results

Establishing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) can help organizations track and measure the success of their onboarding process. KPIs may include metrics such as productivity, retention rates, and satisfaction scores. Then, use data analytics tools to track the completion of tasks and forms, the time to complete the whole process, and the success rates of new hires. This way, you can see what you need to improve and make the necessary changes immediately.

Gather Feedback From New Hires

Use surveys and questionnaires to gather feedback from your new employees. This can be done digitally—through an online platform or email—or in person. Surveys might include questions about the clarity of communication, the quality of training, and the overall experience. You can also gather insights through one-on-one meetings with managers or HR representatives. Ask your new hires questions about the process, including what went well or what could have been improved. Finally, do frequent check-ins and follow-ups to see how your new hires are progressing and gauge whether they need additional training to improve their performance.

Conclusion

Successful onboarding automation helps increase productivity and employee satisfaction. By following these best practices, you can improve the general onboarding experience and set new hires up for success. With the continued advancements in technology, every company needs to prioritize automating their employee onboarding process to ensure a smooth transition for every member of the team, including your HR and L&D departments. Last but not least, check out this list of the top onboarding LMS platforms to evaluate vendors and find the right tool for your new hire training programs.