How to Efficiently Welcome New Employees by Using Digital Employee Onboarding

The way businesses welcome new employees has evolved. The days of paperwork, slow starts, and tedious orientations are behind us. Workplaces have adopted digitization everywhere and the onboarding process is no exception. 

In the past, the onboarding process didn’t start until you turned up on the first day. Nowadays, it begins well before this–and when done right, it sets the tone for a positive relationship. Thanks to digital technologies, newcomers can feel informed, valued, and ready to contribute from day one. 

Effective employee onboarding

Impactful employee onboarding benefits everyone. It is more than a mere formality: it’s a strategy that has huge implications. Organizations with comprehensive onboarding programs see a 50% increase in retention rates. But the benefits are long-term too. When onboarding is effective, new employees are more productive at work. 

Though effective onboarding is vital for every new employee, it needs to be right for remote workers too. Onboarding new hires at a distance presents unique challenges. These need a different onboarding approach than digital onboarding can achieve.

Knowing how essential onboarding is for retention and productivity, businesses must consider the duration of their onboarding. This will vary depending on the organization’s specific needs and the complexity of the role. Yet, it is generally accepted that onboarding is an ongoing process that should extend beyond the first day or week. 

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What is digital onboarding? How does it differ from traditional onboarding?

The concept of onboarding has transformed in recent years. Digital onboarding is becoming a more common practice. To understand how to welcome employees, we need to understand how this differs from traditional methods. 

What is digital employee onboarding?

Unlike traditional, paper-based onboarding, this is a technology-driven approach to welcoming new employees. There are a range of possible tools and platforms to help streamline the process. These should be used from the moment an offer is accepted. 

Here are some examples of elements that might be a part of digital onboarding:

  • Virtual orientations: Employees can access policies, company information, and training online at their convenience. 
  • Paperless processes: New hires can complete forms and agreements virtually, speeding up the process and reducing admin. An applicant tracking system (ATS) is an ideal tool to manage and track applications. 

The advantages of going digital are many. Since the process is less person-heavy, it can accommodate a growing workforce. It’s also cost-effective both in terms of personnel involved and in a reduction of printing costs. 

Preparing for digital onboarding

To be successful, it needs to be a process that begins long before the new recruit’s first day. 

There are several steps to go through before you’ll be ready to go digital. Businesses should consider the digitization of paperwork and documentation as well as the technology needed to deliver it. 

One of the first steps is to digitize and centralize all paperwork securely. This includes contracts, policies, training manuals, and employee handbooks. Once set up, new employees will simply need access in the form of login credentials. This is much easier than dealing with reams of paperwork. 

Having everything in one place might seem a little overwhelming to new hires, so you’ll need to organize this effectively. Good practice might include checklists and timelines for both parties. This will ensure everyone knows where they are and what they need to do as a part of onboarding. Receiving clear guidelines is a huge factor in employee retention.

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Designing a digital onboarding system

Seamless digital onboarding starts with the company website. This serves as a central hub and vital resource for accessing information and resources. Setting up digital onboarding could also be an opportunity to redesign resources you want to share with new hires. Some businesses might even explore new domain names by OnlyDomains as a part of this.

There are several other key elements for a successful digital onboarding program. Examples include:

  1. Welcome messages and videos: Personalized welcome messages from managers make a difference. This can help new employees feel valued. The addition of an introductory video about the company’s history and vision can help break up the amount of reading new hires have to do. 
  2. Company culture and values: New employees need to know the company’s values early on. This can be shared digitally in stories and anecdotes that help newcomers understand the company ethos and their role within it. This can even be included on your website so could be an opportunity for a website redesign to really highlight the company culture.
  3. Policy information: Joining a new organization means taking in a lot of new information. Digital resources in a central location mean that new recruits can refer to policies whenever they need to. Using interactive quizzes can help new employees understand their obligations. Adding an interactive element allows them to become actively involved rather than taking in information passively. 
  4. Accommodating remote work: If remote working is suitable for your business, the onboarding program will need to accommodate this too with remote-friendly collaboration tools seen as a priority.
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Implementing technology solutions 

Digitization requires new technology solutions to enhance the experience for all. Thankfully, there are a range of platforms and tools available. These solutions cater to different aspects of the onboarding process. This includes documentation, training, communication, and data management. 

Every business will have different needs when it comes to the technology required. Larger companies might benefit from a solution like first call resolution from Dialpad. This enhances communication and provides real-time guidance remotely. 

Handling large volumes of data during onboarding is common. One technology solution businesses use to assist with this is Hadoop clusters. But what are Hadoop clusters? Simply put, Hadoop is a distributed data storage and processing framework. It helps the organization to manage large volumes of data. They can then access and analyze this whenever it’s needed.

Personalization in digital onboarding

Like all business decisions and all employees, one size does not fit all when it comes to digital onboarding. Each new hire will have unique needs and the digital onboarding process needs to cater to those. 

It’s easy to create an onboarding system and reuse it for each new recruit. Yet, the onboarding process should still have personalization incorporated. It’s not only about providing paperwork and tools; new hires need to feel valued from the start. 

With personalized onboarding, new employees will engage on a deeper level. They will become more invested in their new position and role in the organization from the start. As such, they’ll be more likely to stay with the company long-term. 

Organizations can achieve personalization in several ways. Examples include personalized content, customized learning paths, and individualized goals. Importantly, there needs to be a clear feedback mechanism that can pinpoint areas requiring personalization. 

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Measuring and improving onboarding efficiency

Efficiency is a huge part of successful onboarding. With digital onboarding, it is easier than ever to measure and improve. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) help guide organizations in how their onboarding is working. Here are some metrics to consider:

  • Time-to-Productivity: Essentially, this measures how quickly your new hires become productive in your organization. 
  • Retention: Tracking your employee retention rates as a percentage over time can help you measure the success of any digital onboarding procedures. 
  • Performance: You can measure the success of onboarding by looking at new employees and their performance. Do they meet, exceed, or fall below expectations?

Most businesses that switch to digital onboarding need to make changes as new recruits work their way through. Incorporating the concept of ‘first call resolution’ from the outbound sales call center context into onboarding can enhance efficiency. This means addressing and resolving issues during the initial contact, so there is no need for follow-up interactions. In the context of onboarding, this translates to addressing new employees’ queries promptly. This ensures there are no unnecessary frustrations. 

When it comes to onboarding, it’s the first 90 days of an employee’s journey that are considered to be the most critical. This period will set the tone for their employment. The employee’s engagement and productivity long-term depend upon this. So, it’s essential to use tried and tested onboarding strategies and learn from teething problems. 

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Compliance and data security 

We can’t mention digital onboarding without mentioning the importance of robust data security. New data protection regulations like GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and the CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act) have heightened the importance of safeguarding sensitive information. 

When setting up and administering digital onboarding, there need to be secure data management procedures. For organizations subject to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), compliance becomes a legal imperative. As such, it’s helpful to have a SOX compliance checklist

Data breaches have far-reaching consequences. With this in mind, proactive data security is a worthy investment.

Final thoughts on welcoming new employees through digital onboarding

You may think that digital onboarding is simply a technical upgrade but it is much more than that. It represents a strategic shift in how companies welcome and integrate new talent. It’s crucial to remember that personalization of the process matters and so too does the human touch. This doesn’t necessarily mean leaving old practices by the wayside, though. Even though many businesses use video conferencing software every day, for example, almost all still need a decent phone system for enterprise too.

Finally, the success of digital onboarding will play a huge part in the growth and sustainability of any organization. As such, it’s worth ensuring its long-term success by committing to continuous improvement.

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