The days of simply hiring new employees and throwing them in at the deep end with minimal training have become a thing of the past. In its place, a growing culture of onboarding has taken over to ensure new employees make a positive, productive start in their new jobs.
As onboarding has become a must-do rather than a nice-to-do, HR departments have implemented more detailed onboarding programs.
The aims are: better employee engagement, understanding of company culture, better employee retention, improved ability to attract talent, and increased productivity.
Research by Brandon Hall on the true costs of bad hires found organizations that “invest in a strong candidate experience improve their quality of hires by 70%.” A report by KPMG, meanwhile, concluded that “for the employee experience to be credible and consistent, it must be designed across all engagement channels – digital, social and environmental” from the time a new team member joins.
As well as developing comprehensive programs to welcome new starters to their roles, employee onboarding tools have been developed to help everyone involved in the process.
Employers who are keen to not only run best practice employee onboarding programs but to use the latest technologies to facilitate this process may have questions about how to do this. HR professionals who are trying to obtain senior management buy-in for investing in employee onboarding tools might have to answer questions from the organization’s leadership.
What are onboarding tools?
Defining employee onboarding tools is important. Put simply, employee onboarding tools help employers, and HR departments in particular, to organize and automate the processes involved with onboarding new team members.
The aim of these tools is to make the onboarding process, which can be overwhelming for both employers and employees, as simple and streamlined as possible.
There is a wide range of onboarding tools now available to employers, so they can invest in the solutions that best suit their organization’s needs.
Some tools assist with specific tasks, such as new job administration, while other tools help with big-picture processes, such as setting up a process to track employee progress with training and development and establishing a defined career path within the organization.
With many organizations adopting digital transformation, it was inevitable that HR departments would become involved.
Employee onboarding is an obvious area to invest in as part of a holistic, strategic approach to ensuring new team members start their roles positively and constructively. The tools can be used beyond the first few weeks as part of an employee’s journey with the organization.
What is Workday Onboarding
The Workday solution involves around 300 different business processes that can be used across an organization, ranging from basic to complex tasks.
Workday Onboarding in particular is the part of this solution that focuses on getting new employees started. It is a cloud-based solution
The process of inducting a new starter with the Workday Onboarding solution begins with an optional pre-hire access process for employees to log into before starting the job, followed by a comprehensive employee data entry process.
It has a range of sub-processes for HR managers to choose from. Depending on the size and requirements of the organization, not all processes will necessarily be relevant, but the choices of processes are certainly extensive and detailed.
One of the advantages of Workday Onboarding, particularly with the pre-hire access option, is that it is an easy solution to use for remote onboarding. Ever since the Covid-19 pandemic, more employers have either adopted hybrid working, involving a mix of working from home and attending the place of employment, or continued with remote work.
The benefits of this have included more flexibility and an improved work-life balance for employees and cost savings on commercial property rents for employers, but onboarding can be challenging.
This is where a system that allows easy cloud-based access for employees and clear processes for settling into a new job, learning company procedures, setting measurable goals and establishing performance evaluation processes.
What is app onboarding?
Using an app to help with employee onboarding can help streamline the process in a modern, user-friendly way, particularly with the rise of remote and hybrid working.
Once an app is downloaded to a mobile device, it can be used for a number of different onboarding functions.
Common uses for these sorts of apps include creating a friendly introduction to the organization with a welcome pack that includes information, such as employee benefits, working hours, expectations, a company overview and job description.
Similar to Workday Onboarding’s pre-hire access option, apps can be downloaded by employees before they start a new job to provide information about the first day or even quick introductory training modules to help new starters hit the ground running from their first day in the job.
Progress, such as training milestones, can be recorded and evaluated in real time, workflows can be created, checked and stored, and working hours logged.
Documents, such as contracts, employee handbooks, and codes of conduct can be accessed via an app.
Contracts can potentially be signed electronically via an app and storing documents here can save on paper and printing costs, while ensuring this information can be quickly and easily accessed, no matter where an employee is.
What is an onboarding solution?
An onboarding solution is a software investment made by an organization to smooth the process for employees starting new jobs.
The system may be accessible from office computers or remotely, depending on the organization’s size and needs.
Onboarding software may be a stand-alone product dedicated entirely to the process of settling new starters into jobs or it may be part of a more comprehensive HR software system that offers onboarding as one of its functions.
If a standalone onboarding solution is used, it needs to be compatible with core HR systems. Information collected via an onboarding solution should be easily flowed to other HR software, particularly employee profiles, training progress information and early evaluation data.
An onboarding solution that easily integrates with other systems will save time, reduce duplication, ensure information flows well, and offer easy access.
Onboarding systems are part of the drive towards greater HR automation in organizations. They are designed to automate and streamline time-consuming onboarding administration tasks.
The main features common to most onboarding solutions include a welcome portal to engage with new employees from the beginning.
These act as an information hub, starting point for communication, and provide a platform for information that can be shared before an employee starts, such as the workplace address, directions, start date and the details of key contacts, such as the HR department and line managers.
There might be an online form employees can fill in with information that will make it easier for them to start a new job.
Apart from basic personal data, information here can include things such as preferred name and pronouns, and accessibility needs. This is important for employees who are neurodiverse or have disabilities, to allow a smooth transition into a new role.
Task management is another common feature of employee onboarding tools. This helps departments apart from HR to take care of their responsibilities when someone new starts, such as IT setting up a computer, email and relevant programs, ensuring the employee is on the payroll, and line managers arranging the induction process.
Online access to task management functions is especially useful for hybrid or remote workplaces, where it can be more difficult to determine who has fulfilled their responsibilities. Systems with prompts and checklists that can be electronically ticked off are useful here.
What are the four phases of onboarding?
There are four phases of onboarding and employee onboarding tools can be used for every step of the way.
Phase 1 – Pre-onboarding:
This process begins as soon as a job offer has been accepted and lasts until their first day at work. During this period, the hired employee may be nervous, uncertain, apprehensive or excited about the prospect of starting a new job.
As such, this period of mixed emotions needs to be handled sensitively with clear communication as the main priority. It is important during this phase to avoid misunderstandings and ensure that they are given all the information they need to offer clarity and hopefully calm first-day nerves.
This is a good time to provide a clear picture about what the new job and working for the new organization might look like.
There are different ways this can be done, such as videos, photographs or documents to showcase the job and the organization.
It is important to give new employees enough time to fill out all necessary forms, which is often done online.
If a new employee needs to relocate, this is when employers should offer support to ensure the new team member has accommodation, knows where the office is, and knows their new commute.
Employee onboarding tools can provide information, streamline form-filling processes, gather data and communicate effectively, especially if there is a pre-hire access option.
Phase 2 – Welcoming:
This is the process of ensuring the new employee is at ease and comfortable in the new position.
This is especially critical if they do not know anyone in the organization, are unsure how the company operates on a daily basis, or they have relocated.
Regardless of whether an employee has relocated on a local, regional, national or international basis, this is a significant period of adjustment and it is important that employers are understanding.
It is important to find the right balance here. While many employees may be apprehensive, it is common for new starters to want to get started with their new role. The welcoming phase ideally should last no longer than a week.
Ensuring new starters have the introductory training they need to start working effectively is important for everyone – the new starter will feel empowered and be quickly trusted with important tasks.
Rather than overwhelming a new employee on the first day, the welcoming phase will be more successful if the first day is kept simple.
Employee orientation should help new team members understand the organization’s culture and understand the work practices they will need to make an effective start.
If it has not been covered during phase 1, the first day is a good time to discuss holiday and sick leave policies, attendance, payroll, health insurance and employee benefits.
This is also the time for a tour of the workplace so they know where facilities, such as parking, bathrooms and cafeterias are located.
It is important to introduce a new employee first to the colleagues they will be working with most closely, and then other colleagues and stakeholders.
In a large organization in particular, it can make sense to introduce new people throughout the week, rather than bombarding someone with a large number of new names and faces on day one.
Phase 3 – Job-specific training:
This phase is really important to get right from the outset as it relates directly to the effectiveness and success of the new employee.
A friendly, open training environment where the new employee is not afraid to ask questions is important. The idea of “fake it to you make it” might seem like a bold way to take on a new job, but if someone is afraid or lacks the confidence to ask questions, this can lead to disaster. A poorly trained employee can end up making mistakes from simple, easily corrected errors right through to mistakes that can be dangerous or damaging to the company’s reputation or bottom line.
A well-written new starter training program is a good way to prevent early job dissatisfaction and low morale, which can, in turn, lead to poor retention.
The training phase is another opportunity to leverage employee onboarding tools. For example, an onboarding solution that incorporates online training can save time, allow an employee to learn at a comfortable pace, and allow other employees to undertake other tasks instead of having to constantly monitor the new employee.
Good online learning courses should not leave an employee feeling overwhelmed. Instead, they should be clearly written, interactive, and allow for easy evaluation so any knowledge or skills gaps can be detected early and additional training provided.
However, online learning cannot entirely replace sessions where new starters can interact with their managers and other employees and soon feel like they are a valued part of the team.
A benefit of online learning is that the documents and tools can be easily accessed and referred back on, if required.
Phase 4 – A smooth transition into the new role:
This final phase of the onboarding process is when someone has made the move from being a new hire to a fully fledged, competent and valuable employee.
To reach this stage effectively, managers should establish clear expectations and goals for new starters, setting them on a path of progression and career development from the very beginning.
It can be useful to conduct an early performance review, perhaps after completing the first month or quarter, to check on progress, acknowledge achievements, set out a constructive and meaningful career path, and determine areas for improvement or further training.
What are the 3 phases of employee onboarding?
In short, the three phases of employee onboarding are simpler than the four-phase concept – they are admin, orientation and enablement.
- Admin: The admin phase is the gathering of all relevant information that is required to ensure the new employee can start their job effectively, all legal requirements are met, they can be paid, all systems can be accessed, and any special needs are recorded and met.
Depending on where an organization is based, some steps of the admin process will vary, particularly where there are variations in labor law.
However, in general, the steps of the admin phase include: a background check; setting up relevant IT access, such as an email account; personal information is added to the HR database; employment eligibility is verified; technology preferences and/or accessibility needs are recorded and implemented; and the employee has the required permissions to access the workplace, such as a card to open doors.
- Orientation: This phase can be adjusted depending on the size and requirements of the organization, company culture, and the type of position that is being filled.
This phase can include: an email before the new hire’s first day with relevant information, such as the office location and directions; an email of congratulations to welcome the new employee on their first day; a fun facts survey to get to know the new employee better; ensuring their desk or work station is set up before they arrive; ensuring there is someone on hand to greet the new employee when they arrive on their first day; a tour of the workplace; a team lunch so the new hire gets to know their colleagues; overview of the company history with the founder or a senior member of staff; a check-in session with the new employee after first week; and a post-orientation survey to detect any potential issues, check early progress and determine ways to continually improve the onboarding process.
- Enablement: In this phase, the new employee can be assigned a mentor from within the company and a plan established with goals set for the 30-day, 60-day, and 90-day milestones.
This goal-setting plan is then reinforced with the line manager checking in with the employee at each of these milestones to ensure progress is being made and any issues, such as knowledge or skills gaps, can be addressed early.
What is an onboarding strategy?
It is becoming more important across many organizations to take a strategic approach to all functions and operations and onboarding new employees is no exception.
When an employer adopts an onboarding strategy, they go beyond the basics of form-filling for company databases, simple training, workplace tours and colleague introductions.
When an onboarding strategy is put in place, it is a considered and detailed programme that aims to meet broader organizational goals beyond simply getting a new starter settled into their role. It is about looking at the bigger picture rather than short-term HR needs.
When an onboarding strategy is introduced, it aims to set measurable targets for the new employee to meet in the early days of their job. This is a good way to provide a solid foundation so they have a clear career path with the organization, job satisfaction and morale are boosted, and, ideally, the strategy helps with staff retention and company growth.
What is an HR onboarding process?
Onboarding has become an increasingly common HR industry term that refers, in simple terms, to the process of introducing a new recruit into an organization.
It is a vital part of ensuring employees understand the requirements of their new position and have the necessary skills and early training to become effective employees in a short period of time.
An onboarding process that goes beyond these basics is a strategic approach, which is recommended for improving staff morale and retention.
The HR onboarding process should aim to immerse a new employee into the organization’s culture, with company values and expectations clearly communicated.
The overall aim is to make sure the new starter makes an easy transition to becoming a loyal and valuable employee.
What is an example of onboarding?
There are many examples of onboarding processes that will facilitate the new hire’s journey to becoming an effective team member who adds value and enjoys good job satisfaction.
An entrance interview is a good example of onboarding, whereby the employer can learn more about the new employee, find out if there are any ways in which they can help the new employee settle into their role and do their job more effectively.
This is an onboarding process that should be a win-win – the employer is able to get a clear picture of how they can assist the new employee, and the new employee feels valued from the first day as part of a corporate culture where it is just as important for managers to listen to employees as it is for employees to listen to managers.
What is the employee life cycle?
There are slight variations in the definition of the employee life cycle by different HR experts, but the Australian Institute of HR (AIHR) outlines it in clear terms. According to the AIHR, the employee life cycle incorporates “the entire relationship between an employee and the organization they work for”.
The institute goes on to outline phases of the life cycle, such as the “attraction phase when employees are still getting to know the company”, adding that the life cycle “continues until after they leave the organization and become alumni”.
The AIHR defines seven phases to the employee life cycle, starting with the attraction phase. After the phase of getting to know about the company and the role, the institute defines the next six phases as: Recruitment, Onboarding, Retention, Development, Offboarding, and Happy Leavers, which is when employees leave on good terms and the experience has been beneficial for everyone.
What are the 5 Cs of onboarding?
Compliance, Clarification, Culture, Connection, and Check-back comprise a useful list for HR departments to ensure their onboarding processes are meeting strategic organizational goals.
- Compliance: Depending on where your organization is based, there will be different legal requirements to meet. However, it also refers to internal compliance, and ensuring company policies are met and understood by employees.
Internal compliance can refer to company policies, confidentiality agreements to protect company information, and training in compliance systems and procedures, such as knowing how to report harassment and dealing effectively with external complaints.
- Clarification: Clarification means ensuring expectations about job performance are communicated clearly from the first day.
It is important to ask the employee questions and for the employee to feel empowered to ask questions in return. It is about opening the channels of communication for a transparent workplace.
- Culture: Establishing a positive workplace culture from the start creates an early positive impression for a new starter, so they can quickly feel comfortable in their role and within the organization.
An employee handbook, which can be provided as a hard copy or online via an employee onboarding tool, is a good way to start reinforcing a constructive, inclusive company culture. New employees need to be aware that the organization values an anti-harassment environment, fairness, safety, and wellbeing
- Connection: It is important to connect positively with new employees. This can include an email, letter or video to welcome them, which can be sent before the first day in the job.
The connection process also involves introducing people to their fellow team members and leaders and important contacts, both outside their department and any relevant external stakeholders. Another popular connection strategy is to assign all new hires with a buddy to help them get used to the organization
- Check-back: The process of onboarding extends beyond the new employee’s first day or week at work. Instead of doing the bare minimum onboarding process in the first week, which can leave the employee feeling confused, neglected or overwhelmed, it is smart to set up check-back meetings after 30, 60 and 90 days, where goals can be set and concerns addressed.
What makes a strong onboarding process?
Examples of best-practice onboarding includes:
- Remembering the onboarding process starts before the new person arrives at the workplace. It is important to communicate clearly and transparently before the all-important first day. Employee onboarding tools that allow pre-hire access are useful for meeting this aim.
- Before the new employee starts their role, make sure their workstation is set up in advance. This is a simple courtesy, but it will instantly make the new starter feel as if they are part of the team.
- Announce a new arrival at the organization. This is commonly done via a company-wide email, but there are employee onboarding tools that can automate this process or post an announcement in a visible place.
- Introduce the new starter to the team and hold an orientation process with their new colleagues. This helps the new hire feel like they are part of the team.
- A buddy system or peer mentoring system helps a new team member engage with the organization early, creating a safe space to ask questions about the workplace.
- All resources that are useful for new hires, such as company policies, employee forms, and training documentation, should be stored somewhere accessible. Many employee onboarding tools allow for transparent document storage.
- Make sure all managers are aware of onboarding procedures and expectations, so they can be a constructive part of the process.
How do you complete onboarding?
The onboarding process needs to conclude by achieving the final phase in which a new employee knows their job, has completed all necessary early training, and they are fully fledged part of the team.
A checklist of all requirements for a successfully completed onboarding process can be stored and ticked off on many employee onboarding tools:
- All legal and internal documents have been completed and stored.
- The new hire is comfortable and familiar with all relevant IT systems and procedures.
- The new hire has been successfully introduced to colleagues and relevant external stakeholders.
- Measurable goals have been set and documented.
- All early training has been completed satisfactorily.
- A clear career development path has been identified.
Ideally, this should be achieved within the first month, with 60-day and 90-day check-in sessions diarized so post-onboarding, the employee’s progress is still being tracked and goals are continuing to be met.
What are the 5 Cs in safety?
There are some variations in the definition of the 5 Cs in workplace safety, but Skanska, a UK-based construction company, offers a clear outline that can be adapted to different workplaces.
They are: Culture, Competence, Communication, Contractors, and Controls.
- Culture: Skanska defines safety culture as aiming for an injury-free workplace, with leadership skills developed across the whole workforce to demonstrate this commitment.
- Competence: This focuses on developing health and safety education to “inspire and empower people to work safely or not at all.”
- Communication: This C aims to “create an environment to enable collaboration and open discussion”. In particular, this about “clear, consistent communications” via different channels to reach all stakeholders.
- Contractors: As well as ensuring a strong safety culture within an organization, Skanska says it is important to engage its supply chain so everyone has the same safety values. It becomes a shared responsibility for everyone that works with your organization.
- Controls: It is important to have “effective systems in place and they are adhered to consistently”, according to Skanska, such as controls and systems to manage health and safety risks.
How do I track an onboarding employee?
Tracking an onboarding employee has become easier and more streamlined thanks to the introduction of employee onboarding tools. Keeping track of training progress is a particularly important part of the onboarding process and one that can be managed with software.
If your employee onboarding tools include a learning management system, it is easy to set key performance indicators, keep track of what training has been received, individual performance can be monitored and managed, and reports generated about the progress being made. This helps managers and HR leaders to adjust training, if required, and ensure goals are being met.
An employee onboarding tool that allows digital tracking of all relevant personnel documents, as well as the uploading of reports, such as training updates, early appraisal data, information about any access requirements the new employee may have, and employee feedback surveys, keeps the tracking process transparent and easy to manage.
What data or outcomes should be collected to monitor the effectiveness of an onboarding process?
When evaluating the effectiveness of an onboarding process, here are examples of the data and outcomes that should be collected, ideally using an employee onboarding tool:
- New hire turnover data – are new employees staying past their probation period or leaving within six to 12 months of starting?
- Examine how quickly new team members reach similar levels of competence to existing employees.
- Conduct an employee survey to get feedback about the effectiveness of onboarding, asking about factors such as whether it was a welcoming process, is company culture understood, whether they feel like part of the organization, early job satisfaction. and clarity of communication. Using net promoter scores can be effective here.
- Set measurable performance and training goals at the start of the onboarding process and document if and when they have been met.
- Training completion rates, plus time taken to complete training.
- Determine revenue per employee ratios.
- Document the outcomes of check-ins after 30, 60 and 90 days.
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.