Welcoming a new colleague is just the start of their journey with your organisation. First impressions count and can have a considerable impact on employee experience (EXP). Using the right employee onboarding software may also determine if your latest recruit will stay for the long term – or rapidly search for another role
Here’s a statistic that won’t make for good reading if you’re an HR professional: it’s widely considered that as much as 20% of turnover happens in the first 45 days of employment. One of the reasons new hires leave a job is they haven’t received the training they require: no matter how experienced they are, recent recruits need to learn certain procedures and your way of working in order to succeed.
Employee onboarding is one of the most important functions your HR team conducts because of how crucial it is to engagement, motivation, productivity and retention. High turnover can affect this, and recruitment costs can climb to as much as 20% of a role’s base salary. So what you do in those first months can determine if someone is a turnover or top performer.
To help, you may want to use employee onboarding software to improve your processes and attract the best talent to your brand (and retain that talent once they’ve joined). We’ll explore what onboarding includes, how the technology available in learning management system software such as Digits LMS can support you, how to boost your onboarding programme, and how to choose the right solution for your needs.
What is digital onboarding?
Digital onboarding is when the employee onboarding process is completed online. Your new starter can fill out any forms that are required, check your company’s policies, and complete training courses – before their first day, or during that initial 30- or 60-day period. Having these tasks and resources available digitally helps employees complete the induction checklist at their own pace, so it isn’t overwhelming.
If you have colleagues who don’t live close to your office or site, then digital onboarding will be critical for them. This has become increasingly important for businesses to consider over recent years, as more people choose to work remotely or in a hybrid way.
So it’s important for your brand to select good employee onboarding software. Digits’ LMS, for instance, enables you to provide a personalised digital experience for new starters, giving them a positive experience from the day they join to the day they leave. You can integrate this software into these three steps:
- Preboarding: This runs from when someone signs a contract to their first working day with your organisation, during which time essential operational tasks (such as signing contracts, filling forms and granting access to certain systems) can be completed. Not only does good preboarding improve employee retention because it helps to boost your new starters’ commitment to your company, but it’ll also help them feel more connected to your mission and values. It reduces those first-day nerves, too. Your onboarding technology is important here as you can provide timely access to any digital platforms, share news and social media channels, and introduce team members
- Onboarding: This phase is when your new colleague has started, and now has both evaluative and educational targets to meet. They can complete eLearning courses and other training to learn more about the company’s objectives and vision – and you can assess how their work and onboarding are going. Using specialist technology such as a learning management system (LMS) means you can attract and keep top talent by providing effective workplace training programmes, and doing this from day one shows you value a driven, productive workforce. Automated workflows will streamline the processes and help enhance performance, plus your onboarding will show new starters how you treat employees
- Induction: During this phase, your new team member will be introduced in more detail to your company, including its various teams and locations, goals, processes, and technology. It should be a two-way process, though, with the employee’s line manager and the team also getting to know the new individual and understand more about their strengths and how they prefer to work. This phase is different to onboarding as it includes items such as where the kitchen is, where the nearest transport links are and where to park. It also includes social contact as new starters are introduced to key colleagues, but it often begins in parallel to the onboarding phase
Onboarding technology: the bigger picture
Your onboarding technology should be regarded as a part of the entire employee lifecycle – it’s not just about those first few days and weeks. So, when considering your options, think about investing in technology that supports your top talent through the onboarding stage and beyond.
Opting for a broader system — like a learning management system that features onboarding capabilities (rather than standalone onboarding software) can help HR teams improve overall people management – which, in turn, will help to support the business’s main goals. Having centralised digital platforms and automating tasks means much of the admin around a new starter can be completed during the preboarding phase, and there’s a record of what’s still outstanding. Completing this before the first day means you can focus on engaging and integrating colleagues from the beginning.
The learning curve of your new starters can also be improved by using your learning platform’s algorithms to personalise training courses. This could lead to better learning outcomes, meaning recruits can become more productive, more quickly. Your platform can also help recruits connect with other people within your organisation, creating links between themselves and potential mentors.
You’ll also need to know how good your onboarding process is by collecting feedback through surveys and messaging channels. This will help you develop productive and engaged employees, as well as colleagues who will advocate for your business and help you to build a positive brand image – helping you to attract even more talented applicants in the future.
Using onboarding technology efficiently will help your employees to integrate into your organisation long after they’ve completed their first day. “While you might conduct reviews and monitor staff turnover and development needs within your HR solution, an LMS can be leveraged to close that loop by offering learning opportunities in line with objectives set, development needs identified, and progress, which can then be discussed as part of your continuous review process,” says Andrea Matkin, LMS sales manager at Digits.
“By integrating your LMS with your HR solution, as we do with Digits LMS and our Ciphr Connect platform, you create a powerful tool that employees and their managers can use to track progress and access required learning all within one system,” adds Matkin.
Employee onboarding best practices
To onboard employees effectively, you need to go beyond the welcome letter (or email), a decent first day, and an orientation programme in that first week: instead of a great first impression, you need to make a great lasting impression.
As well as sharing news with your new recruit and getting important details from them during preboarding, your onboarding technology can help you create fantastic welcome practices. This checklist can include a welcome email or call, and the opportunity to meet and greet new colleagues virtually. You can also build an orientation programme, as well as prepare essential resources and tools.
Since there are many activities to complete during onboarding, having an automated and integrated solution will mean tasks won’t be missed, data entry is made easier, and you can go paperless. All this adds up to creating an onboarding process that is more streamlined and efficient.
The nine biggest benefits of using employee onboarding software
- 1. You have happier recruits: A poorly organised onboarding process can affect employee retention. One 2014 study found between 16 and 17% of its approximately 1,000 respondents left between the first week and third month of starting a new job – that’s one-in-six new hires each month for the first three months. A manual, time-consuming process can affect new starters; a digital-first, streamlined process can be a decisive factor for top talent
- 2. It’s faster: Using onboarding software can mean your onboarding processes can be completed quicker. Forms can be received instantly, and information can be entered electronically just once. Your future employee has full autonomy of data entry and, when that information is in the system, your HR team can manage payroll, assign responsibilities and set up benefits
- 3. There’s less downtime: Delays can lead to downtime and, if your HR leaders have other responsibilities distracting them from onboarding, it can also lead to errors. Employee onboarding software reduces manual involvement, so HR teams can focus on other tasks – while new colleagues’ time-to-productivity is reduced, enabling them to make a positive contribution to your bottom line more quickly
- 4. You’re compliant: HR rules and regulations can change, and it’s important to ensure your organisation is compliant. It’s easy to make mistakes and miss compliance issues with a manual process, which could cost your company financially and reputationally. Using employee onboarding software mitigates the risk that essential steps are overlooked
- 5. It can be personalised: Each person who starts at your organisation will have a certain expertise that targets any skills gaps you may have. Any that need to be built on means you can offer support devices that will help with development. So if a review reveals an employee requires more organisational compliance knowledge, for example, you can tailor their training to include this subject
- 6. It helps you pair new starters with ‘buddies’: Your onboarding software can be used for colleagues to share information, with mentors available to support new hires. This could be to help enhance task completion or even highlight areas for improvement. Social learning tools and video calls can be used for weekly sessions, while content can be added to your LMS and shared more widely
- 7. Track progress: You can create reports on a recruit’s development and performance with employee onboarding software, and identify ways to improve your onboarding process. So if, for example, a significant number of new hires don’t finish a certain course, you can gauge if they need further training, or if there are gaps in the knowledge the existing course is sharing
- 8. Reach remote recruits: The number of remote and hybrid workers is increasing and, while this option is great for recruitment, it can present challenges with training and communication. Using technology that uses chat tools and cloud-based project management systems, for instance, means new starters can connect with colleagues, get face-to-face training by video, and demonstrate progress
- 9. Improve communication: New and current employees need to have constant communication: a top complaint from unhappy workers is they’ve not been informed of changes. Making this communication easily accessible, transparent, and consistent will help your people feel informed
How to choose the best onboarding technology
There’s a vast array of software solutions in the marketplace, so you need to ensure the onboarding technology you select is the top option for your organisation. The best software will be the one that ticks the most boxes on your requirements list – and, while it might seem like a daunting task, using the correct plan of action will mean your selection process can be completed with confidence.
Our experts at Digits recommend three areas for you to consider when searching for onboarding technology:
- Have a list of requirements: Understand all needs the system should satisfy from your stakeholders’ requirements. It will need to support several groups of people in your business – from employees to managers, HR, and learning and development Ask what it needs to do: the purpose of training, if it’s gamified or not, content types it can deliver, can it support talent management and succession planning, plus can it be integrated with HR systems and deliver reporting?
- How to compare the market: Find out what to expect during procurement. Collate your requirements in an easy-to-reference document, and start reviewing the market for testimonials. You can then shortlist vendors and arrange for demonstrations – be sure to include key stakeholders in the process to maximise buy-in. Then, look for the correct fit in terms of product, price, and culture. Be sure to have a list of questions to ask each vendor, so you can compare and contrast their answers
- Your essential features and functions: Explore the features that may help your company achieve strategic objectives you haven’t considered. Think about the future and how this technology will support these goals – even if you don’t want to implement these plans immediately. Make sure you have a ‘shopping list’ of non-negotiable features you want, too
Once you’ve decided these points, you can then speak to a provider to find out more about their experience and what they can offer your brand. This would be a perfect opportunity to learn about Digits’ LMS and its benefits, including how it can integrate with your HR systems.