Welcome to the seventh post in this series on strategic onboarding where we tackle the last of six common onboarding questions. Question #6: How do I best leverage technology to support my strategic onboarding process?
You’ve worked hard and plotted out everything you want and need your strategic onboarding process to do in order to reach your clearly defined and company/business-supported goals and to create an employee onboarding experience that’s second to none. It’s going to be a seamless process handing off smoothly from recruiting and keeping the momentum going strong throughout each new employee’s rookie year at your company. Time to put this in place! But wait a minute… how will this work?
Electronic forms – these minimize the tedious process of completing forms on the first day of work. They give new employees the option to complete forms online and ahead of time if they so wish, freeing up their first day for more meaningful experiences and interactions. Form automation reduces the workload of the process owner (Human Resources!) and eliminates paper and its associated costs of delivery, handling, filing, storage, etc… They also reduces or eliminate the need for data entry, significantly lowers data and process errors, and ensures regulatory compliance.
A good example is forms can be automatically prepopulated with info gathered during the hiring process. This eliminates unnecessary, duplicate data entry as new employees must only provide information already not available. It also significantly reduces the time spent on forms.
Informational websites – also called onboarding portals; these provide a central, online and always accessible source of onboarding information for new employees. Using portals creates process efficiencies and consistencies. They also help make things simple and clear for new employees and other stakeholders in the onboarding process by giving them a single location for everything related to onboarding.
Onboarding portals contain content and tools to enhance the onboarding process such as checklists, timelines, talking points, contact lists / org charts, welcome videos, training guides and so forth.
Case management systems – essentially automated task lists; these dramatically increase effectiveness and minimize the chance of steps being missed related to preparing for the arrival of a new employee for their first day of work. Automated case management systems streamline and track all the activities and tasks associated with each new employee. They also clearly communicate and assign responsibilities to stakeholders in the onboarding process, then track task completion and help hold people accountable. This ensures preparatory tasks are completed ahead of each new employee’s arrival.
Beyond these specific applications, we can look back to our three components of strategic onboarding and how HR technology can be leveraged within each one:
This is covered in the Electronic Forms paragraphs above. Tech is leveraged to get critical documentation work done as quickly, accurately and painlessly as possible.
This is also covered in the above Case Management System section. Technology helps communicate responsibilities and enables tracking to enable you to minimize if not eliminate any depressing first day experiences like showing up and not having a work station or your manager not being aware today was your first day. You can create a checklist of tasks like phone, computer, security badge, parking pass, welcome lunch, mentor setup, welcome message from manager/supervisor… whatever you want to consistently arrange for each new employee’s first day. You can create checklists specific to jobs and other pertinent factors.
Roles within your company to include here are: human resources, IT, security, training and learning, facilities and acquisition/purchasing (for managing onboarding of contractors).
Introducing your new employees to their new company, coworkers and culture can all be greatly enabled with HR technology. These solutions help engage employees from recruiting on through preboarding to their first day at work, into their first week of onboarding and right on through their entire first year “rookie season”.
With a good solution you can highlight what your company is all about from an insider’s perspective by exposing new hires to work and employee communities, sharing the company culture, and introducing them to mentors, their manager and the broader team including your company’s leaders and their vision for the company. Solutions should give new employees the tools to navigate and learn about the people in your company such as live org charts, social and work communities and rich employee profiles. Connecting new employees with the right people at your company helps foster strong relationships which lead to deeper engagement and commitment to the company.
Roles involved include senior leadership, manager/supervisor, sponsors and mentors and an HR liaison.
Tracking and Reporting
One more way to leverage technology is to track and report on the success of your strategic onboarding process. Booz Allen Hamilton’s onboarding article encapsulates it best with their recommendation to “Establish and track metrics (operational and strategic) to gauge the effectiveness of the onboarding program against its goals”. Consider including an HR data mining tool will enable you and your managers to dive into the data behind your reports and get to the root of problems. And ensure you track new employee engagement, retention, productivity and other key performance metrics.
One more general note about leveraging technology: keep it simple. From the message in this year’s CedarCrestone HR Systems Survey to the “Getting On Board” report, the message is clear: don’t reinvent the wheel. Invest the time to find an HR technology solution flexible enough to accommodate your strategic onboarding process. But remember, creating a customized software solution is not only impractical, but generally unnecessary given the solutions available today.
In summary: technology, in this case an onboarding software application, is a solution enabling you to do more (incredible onboarding) with less (fewer HR resources, less employee time and an overall lower cost). Your challenge will be to find a solution that effectively uses process automation, social collaboration and communication technologies, and that is flexible enough to enhance and optimize your strategic onboarding process. The good news is that there are lots of great solutions out there. Why not take our preboarding and onboarding for a spin?
Thank you all for reading this series. I sincerely hope it’s brought useful information and a new perspective to the highly engaging topic of employee onboarding!
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(That’s goodbye in binary)