How to Create a Digital Employee Onboarding Experience in 3 Steps

Anyone who wants to know how to create a digital employee onboarding experience must know a few simple things.

It is important to understand:

  • What a digital employee onboarding experience is
  • The components of that experience
  • How to design and implement a new digital onboarding process

Below, we’ll explain all of these in detail.

What Are the Components of the Digital Employee Onboarding Experience?

First and foremost, it is important to understand what we mean when we talk about the digital employee onboarding experience.

HR professionals likely know what employee onboarding is.

Employee onboarding is the process where new employees are introduced to, familiarize themselves with, and become integrated into a new workplace.

The digital employee onboarding experience, however, refers to the process of onboarding employees into the digital workplace.

Some may contend that this process focuses exclusively on product onboarding and training.

However, it is important not to ignore the fact that today, all employee onboarding is largely digital in nature.

For example, all of the following steps include digital components:

  • The Recruitment Process – Marketing communications, job descriptions on job boards, tests, assessments, interviews, job offers
  • Digital Onboarding – Product tours, technical support, software onboarding, onboarding communications
  • Product Training – Product walkthroughs, product training, technical support

These are just a few examples.

It is important to acknowledge that virtually every aspect of onboarding – including the social aspect – include digital components.

For that reason, it is important to take a wide perspective when designing the digital employee onboarding experience.

How to Design and Improve the Digital Employee Onboarding Experience in 3 Steps

Perhaps the most important commitment to make is choosing to implement a formal, structured onboarding process.

This means dedicating resources, effort, and time to creating a goal-oriented, purposeful employee onboarding experience.

There are many benefits to doing so, including:

  • Decreased costs and increased efficiency
  • Better results from employee training efforts
  • Improved employee engagement, satisfaction, and retention

To achieve such aims, a structured approach is a must.

Now, let’s look at a 3-step process for digitizing the employee experience:

1. Strategize

Commitment, as mentioned, is a prerequisite for success.

Once that commitment is earned, organizations can begin developing a strategy to improve their digital onboarding process.

Here are a few strategic aims to shoot for:

  • Focus on simplifying the onboarding process. Complexity has a negative effect on any learning process, onboarding included. When a process, software interface, procedure, or any other interaction is too complex, cognitive overload decreases knowledge retention. In worst case scenarios, frustration can build up and even create resistance or burnout.
  • Accelerate training with the right tools. The right tools, such as digital adoption solutions, can transform the digital onboarding process. These platforms, for instance, can automate training, accelerate onboarding, streamline the digital workplace, and much more.
  • Use analytics to gain insight and make improvements. It is important to analyze employee behavior and data in order to improve the onboarding process over time. Those metrics will be used continually to set targets, monitor the health of the onboarding program, fix errors, and make course corrections.

A strategy can have several aims, and it should have tangible, measurable goals. 

Those goals will be addressed during the next stage of the process.

2. Create a Roadmap

A roadmap is the action plan that project managers will follow when implementing their strategy.

It should include:

  • Goals. These goals should be clear-cut, achievable, and measurable. 
  • Deadlines. Deadlines, like quantifiable goals, will help maintain accountability and ensure that the onboarding program stays on track.
  • Metrics and KPIs. Metrics and KPIs assign numerical value to the goals and strategic aims developed thus far.

Though a roadmap and a well-defined schedule is important, flexibility is a must.

During execution, the onboarding program should be continually measured and adjusted in order to get the best results – as we’ll discover below.

3. Execute

The employee experience must be managed carefully if a business is to make the most of its onboarding efforts.

Following an incremental roll-out, such as the one outlined next, can help an organization stay employee-centered, while minimizing risk and maximizing outcomes:

  • Pilot test. Larger enterprises may wish to test their onboarding process with a small group of users before rolling it out to all new hires. This can reduce risk and provide valuable information without over-committing resources.
  • Refine. Using the information from the test phase, program managers can then refine their project and make improvements before organization-wide rollout.
  • Roll out. When fully implementing the new program, it is important to pay close attention to feedback – solicit input from hiring managers, HR staff, and new employees.
  • Optimize. Over the long term, use feedback and data to improve the program and its results.

No onboarding program will be perfect the first time around.

It is important to continually adapt a program to the changing needs of the workforce and the evolving business environment.

With an employee-driven, agile approach such as this, it will be possible to create a digital employee onboarding experience that generates real returns and tangible benefits for the organization.

Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.