Employee onboarding remains a very convincing use case for using digital channels to enhance the experience for new hires and also provide many benefits at an organisational level.
Joining a new company tends to be a complicated process. From the very beginning new joiners have to navigate a variety of processes often with little information. This is on top of immersing themselves in their new role, and getting to know their new colleagues and the organisational culture. Where there is a culture of “get on with it” and new hires have to wade through everything themselves it can be both disengaging and inefficient.
Digital channels can help to make this transition much smoother by streamlining processes, consolidating information into one place, providing a platform for learning and establishing a channel for interaction with new colleagues. These translate into benefits at an organisational level including better employee retention and efficiency gains.
Despite obvious benefits only a minority of companies have a formal onboarding process. In fact a 2014 survey from Aberdeen Group suggests only 32% of companies have one.
The five Es of employee onboarding
There are five major beneficial outcomes using digital channels:
- Employee retention
- Efficiency gains
- Extending the experience
Although the research is now quite old (2007) it’s been suggested that 22% of staff turnover occurs in the first forty five days of employment. This figure was also recently quoted by Bersin by Deloitte.
However having an onboarding programme in place means that employees can have a much better experience of working during that period. This means that employees are 58% more likely to still be with a company within 3 years.
According to the Aberdeen Group “reducing first year turnover” is also the third most important influence on the decision to implement an enterprise onboarding programme.
If there is a pre-boarding element to the programme where new hires get access to resources and even the ability to interact with colleagues prior to the first day, this can also help reduce the number of graduate trainees dropping out.
Now that the global economic downturn is now over growth in headcount is a key priority for some companies, particularly in developing markets. For example at NNE Pharmaplan, growing employee retention was recognised as a key way to help them achieve strategic growth , and therefore the company introduced an onboarding solution.
Keeping new hires engaged and getting them immersed into the new company culture is perhaps the most important outcome of onboarding. Aberdeen Group’s research found it was the most important influence on onboarding programmes (58% of organisations).
Digital channels can help by providing learning materials about the company, welcome videos from senior leaders and even opportunities to interact with colleagues using social tools. Cultural immersion and engagement are not always the emphasis of more process-led portals, but are the main aim of offerings from NNE Pharmaplan and Intuit for example.
Of course engagement is also helped by an efficient process and providing development and training.
According to Aberdeen Group, getting employees up to speed quickly and increasing new hire productivity was a key driver for onboarding for 51% of organisations, the second highest figure.
Clearly there are huge advantages in getting employees settled into their role as quickly as possible. Having access to learning platforms is a common goal for many organisations who introduce onboarding.
Onboarding can be frustrating for employees in terms of the number of forms, requests and processes carried out across different functions. All too often these need to be done by email on day one. When bottlenecks occur and the company laptop doesn’t arrive until day three then even more time is wasted.
Using an onboarding portal with electronic forms and workflow all brought together in one place leads to efficiencies and saves time. If these can be carried out before the first day it also means there are no barriers getting up to speed. There are plenty of providers such who focus on this aspect. For example SilkRoad claim they reduced the administrative cost of onboarding by as much as 25% at Ebay.
Extending the experience
In global companies, ones with multiple brands or those built up through acquisition, HR processes are not always standardised. The quality of the onboarding process can be distinctly variable.
Introducing a global or enterprise-wide programme supported by digital tools can help to standardise parts of the experience for all new hires to ensure a consistent and good experience, but also allow for variation depending on location, function or line of business.