What is employee onboarding?
Employee onboarding is the process of integrating a new employee into an organization, providing them with the necessary tools, resources, and knowledge they need to become a productive and successful member of the team.
This usually involves orientations, introductions, training programs, meetings with team members and supervisors, work station setup, familiarization with policies and procedures, and other activities designed to help the new employee learn their job and become comfortable with their new team and workplace.
Why is effective employee onboarding so important?
Effective employee onboarding is crucial because it sets the tone for the entire employee experience. It sets the stage for the new hire to understand how the company and the team operates, what their roles and responsibilities are, and how they fit into the overall organization.
An effective onboarding strategy also ensures that new hires quickly become productive, fully operational members of the team – in other words, fully ‘ramped’ – and that those expectations are managed from the first day they’ve signed on for the job.
Onboarding also has its intangible impact; it helps to build trust and develop relationships between the new hire, the organization, and their peers.
All this reduces employee turnover and ensures that the employee has a positive first impression of the organization. This means longer tenures, higher engagement, and increased loyalty.
What is onboarding software?
Now that that’s covered, let’s talk about the software.
Employee onboarding software streamlines and automates the process of welcoming new hires into the workplace. In short, you’re bringing new hires on board with software. This ensures a smooth transition for new employees, integrating them into the organization in the most efficient way possible.
Onboarding software typically includes features like document management, employee onboarding checklists, automated onboarding emails, and progress tracking.
How can employee onboarding software help your HR team?
Employee onboarding software can help your HR team by streamlining and automating the onboarding process. It simplifies the collection, verification and storage of employee information and paperwork, allows for quick and easy access both by the HR professional and the new employee, and ensures that all necessary steps are completed in a timely and efficient manner.
This helps HR to reduce administrative costs, save time and resources, and minimize errors. Additionally, it can help to create a positive onboarding experience for new hires, by providing an easy-to-use platform that can be tailored to their needs.
The main benefits of using employee onboarding software
There are numerous benefits of introducing employee onboarding software into your HR day-to-day work. They include:
1. Personalized experiences for new staff
No one likes to feel like a number or a cog in the machine – especially when they’re first hired. Part of onboarding is making the new employee feel welcome in their new role, and the capabilities of employee onboarding software make for a more streamlined, consistent and reliable onboarding process.
Team meetings and 1-1s are pre-scheduled, orientations are regularly presented, and dedicated workspaces are fully equipped ahead of the new hire’s first day.
2. Improve employee retention
A good onboarding experience makes your employees more loyal and increases your retention rate. For instance, Bamboo HR finds that employees are 18 times more likely to be highly committed to their organization when they have a highly effective onboarding.
And you know what? Just like a customer is more likely to stay with you because they’ve had a good experience, an employee is more likely to stick around when they’re feeling those positive vibes about the company. Plus, they’ll tell their friends and peers – all the better for your employer brand.
3. Streamline the entire onboarding process
A major benefit of pre-set onboarding schedules is that you can roll out a new onboarding plan for a new hire much more quickly than you would if you were manually implementing the processes one step at a time.
This is even more valuable when onboarding multiple hires at the same time, on an ongoing basis. Onboarding software helps you streamline the process and free up valuable bandwidth and resources for you and your teams.
4. Increase connection between new hires and their teams
Again from Bamboo HR: 91% of those who experienced great onboarding feel a strong connection with their company and colleagues. That’s compared with just 29% of those who didn’t have a great onboarding who feel the same way.
You want your employees to feel connected – when connected, they’re more engaged in their work because they like working together and they’ve bought into your company vision. A well-planned onboarding strategy sets the groundwork for that to happen – and software makes it much more so.
How to choose the best onboarding software for your business
Now that you know what onboarding software is and how it helps your business, you may be thinking about how to shop for one.
Not all onboarding softwares are built the same, and not all onboarding softwares are the perfect fit for any organization. There are a multitude of variables you need to think about before going all-in. Let’s get started on how to choose the best onboarding software for your business.
1. Determine your onboarding goals and objectives
You’ve likely already determined why you need onboarding software. But there are different softwares to meet different goals and objectives.
2. Define your goals and objectives
First, you want to define what you’re hoping to achieve and what technology and process gaps you’re hoping to fill. Also, think about your company size and expansion plans – how many new hires are you expecting to onboard over the next year, for instance?
3. Understand the complexity of your onboarding
And how complex is your onboarding – is it a series of 1-1s and team meetings, workstation setup, policy/procedure reviews, and other elements? Or does it run broader, longer and deeper than that – for instance, is travel involved? L&D and training sessions? Meetings with busy executives? Security clearances? Etc.?
4. Set your budget
Also, every company has a budget, and every budget has allocations for different company needs. What’s your hiring and HR budget, and how much of that can you reasonably spend on a quality onboarding software And again, consider how many onboards will be happening on a regular basis.
And remember, if you can identify the tangible benefits of onboarding software, that may give you an opportunity for a larger budget. Consider the ROI on a new software in terms of increased retention and engagement.
What features should I look for in onboarding software?
Again, think about your company size, hiring plans, frequency and complexity of onboarding, and so on. While those factor in your choices, you also need to identify the onboarding software features that will most benefit your current strategy.
Those features can include:
1. Recruitment management
Yes, onboarding is part of recruitment. It’s what you could consider the overlap between the final stage of hiring and the beginning stage of employment.
A good onboarding software should have – or at least seamlessly integrate with – a good applicant tracking system or hiring software, so you can continue your recruitment management into the onboarding phase without skipping a beat.
2. Mobile integration
Not all onboarding has to be or even can be conducted in person or at specific workstations. Some of it can be done virtually or even on the go using a mobile or smartphone. Mobile capabilities can also benefit busy managers and executives who can catch up on processes with a quick check-in.
If that benefits your company, check if your onboarding software of choice has mobile capabilities.
If you’re like many small businesses, you have a multitude of softwares in your tech stack. Make sure that the onboarding software you’re choosing fits in neatly within your existing setup.
This means seamless integration and transfer of information from one system to another while maintaining a single source of truth.
4. Customization and flexibility
Every company is different, meaning a certain level of customization and flexibility in your software is crucial.
Don’t shoehorn yourself to one system’s predesigned process – keep your options open with a system that you can mold to your specific needs.
5. Data management & security
Managing the data of your employees – including salary, benefits, contact details and so on – is part of onboarding as well, since you need to get that information into the system.
Data has its legal considerations as well – particularly for privacy (such as GDPR in Europe).
6. User-friendly interface
Not every user of the software is going to be tech savvy – the older the worker, the less experienced or even willing they are to use tech in their lives, according to Pew Research.
Even within the same generations there will be early adopters and late users, but consistent and regular integration of new software in a company is crucial to its success. You want a smooth, user-friendly interface to ensure that everyone’s using it properly.
7. The implementation process
Successfully implementing your newly purchased onboarding software is crucial. You’ve already got the financial buy-in, the user buy-in, and the tech buy-in – now you have to put it all into action.
Many softwares stumble out of the gates because they’re not implemented or even utilized properly, and then they become a sunk cost. When you have a clear and executable implementation strategy, then you’re setting the groundwork for future success. Tip: utilize your chosen software’s support team as much as possible in the early going.
Onboarding software trends
Not only is onboarding software growing as a norm in the HR tech stack, the software itself is seeing trends of its very own.
For example, organizations continue to optimize and streamline their systems, and that means automation of onboarding processes is becoming an increasingly popular option as it saves time and resources.
Automation is already a feature – but it’s evolving all the time. Ultimately, it simplifies and streamlines many aspects of what was once a time-consuming and repetitive part of HR work.
2. Data and analytics
Insights gained from people and data analytics in onboarding is growing in value as they help organizations identify gaps in existing systems and opportunities for improvement in new employee management.
It can also be used to track the progress of newly hired workers and bring a tangible perspective to the onboarding journey.
And why not make onboarding fun? Memory retention and subsequent performance is known to increase when it’s an enjoyable part of being a new employee.
So, why not gamify the onboarding process? This is increasing in popularity as it’s a great way to teach employees new skills and familiarize them with their responsibilities and make a fun and memorable experience at one of the most important stages in the employee lifecycle.
4. Cloud storage
Cloud-based solutions are rapidly becoming the norm in any work setup, especially in emerging startups and remote-first teams.
This makes for a flexible, cost-effective solution for small businesses and easy access to the onboarding process and its data from any location.
5. Mobile capabilities
Mobile-friendly platforms, as mentioned above, are also on the rise not only due to distributed teams but also multitasking. This makes for a more streamlined experience all around.
The value of onboarding is widely misunderstood – in many cases, it’s hard to pinpoint when onboarding goes wrong. When we reached out for onboarding horror stories, the responses didn’t exactly come flowing in – and that’s because employees don’t know what to expect with onboarding.
The flip side is first impressions are essential to success. If there’s a good onboarding process in your company, you’re setting the right tone and laying down the groundwork for your new employee to excel at their job. They may not know exactly what it is if it goes wrong or right – but they will know the results (they tune out and look for other jobs or they’re more engaged and dedicated to this job). And your company will know, too.
Employee onboarding software is a huge part of that. Do your homework, shop wisely, and reap the rewards.