Digital Onboarding: Unlock Company Performance

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The employee onboarding process is a critical component to the success or failure of a newly hired employee. 

Your onboarding process needs to help new employees flourish in your culture, your values and your organization structure. Digital onboarding is no different and is critical to the productivity and effectiveness of your largest investment after people, your technology.

Here’s how.

Traditional Onboarding: A Quick Background

Before you can fully embrace digital onboarding, it’s important to understand the differences between it and traditional onboarding.

With traditional, or on-site onboarding, new employees spend the majority of their first days watching training videos, reading onboarding content and signing forms.

Unfortunately, this does establish an employee’s foundation for success and often leaves them frustrated with unanswered questions and unresolved fears as a result. Although traditional onboarding has been the standard for many years, data obtained by human resource professionals supports the initiative to improve the process by involving digital onboarding.

The Society for Human Resource Management reports that almost 70% of employees who have a great onboarding experience stay with a company for at least three years. Since the cost of a new hire is significant and a high turnover rate not only hurt overall productivity, just the pure cost of finding new hires can have a big impact on your overall bottom line.

The importance of good onboarding has never been more important, particularly with the recent explosion of remote work and work-from-home. Hence, the introduction of digital onboarding.

Digital Onboarding 101

Digital onboarding is simply the process of taking the concepts of bringing on a new hire and providing initial training online with the goal of making onboarding as efficient, successful, and cost-effective as possible.

With digital onboarding, employees can complete training and orientation materials at their own pace at home or on the go by accessing onboarding materials stored on a cloud server from their chosen device, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. For companies who outsource their staff or who are transitioning to remote work, a quality digital orientation program is a must-have.

How Digital Onboarding Increases Company Productivity

There are numerous benefits to digital onboarding. Below are some of the primary benefits.

Remote Access

Being able to access onboarding programs quickly and easily is essential for new hires. The explosion of remote work, including work-from-home, is the most recent but largest force behind digital onboarding. Digital onboarding allows users to log into training applications from anywhere on any device, making it simple for them to complete tasks at their own pace. A remote approach can help new employees absorb information in more effective ways and prevent them from becoming overwhelmed with having to take in too much information all at once. It allows employees to “right time” their onboarding.

Less Paperwork

Paperwork is a silent killer of the new employee’s excitement the first days on the job and does a poor job of preparing an employee for the work ahead. It’s tedious, time-consuming, and shortens the time that an employee has available to complete tasks. While W4, I9, healthcare enrollment, direct deposit, 401(k), and many other forms must be completed, having online fulfillment, submittal and record keeping (for employee and employer) make this process more efficient. This activity can even be done before the employee’s first day, this is called pre-boarding.

Consistent, On-Brand Training

One of the biggest problems faced by businesses today is inconsistent training. Some companies may not have a formal onboarding process at all, or they may be missing components. This leads to variability in the training of new hires, potentially learning incorrect information about your brand, policies, products, and/or services. A digital onboarding solution can help you manage the curation of training and access to it and ensure that you’re offering new hires comprehensive and robust support while they gain their footing. This investment in consistent training pays off when your workforce shares common views of your product/service, organizational objectives and culture..

Compliance Support

If you work in an industry where compliance is necessary, such as in financial, healthcare, education and the public sector, providing your employees with compliance training is critical. How you onboard and train employees can mean the difference between successfully maintaining compliance within your organization or being issued a violation. Violations can be difficult to recover from and are better prevented than handled. Digital onboarding solutions offer new employees compliance materials specific to the needs of your business. You can be confident that your staff is well prepared to maintain compliance when completing tasks and you won’t have to halt company productivity to deal with a violation.

Proactive and Ongoing Learning

Digital onboarding is part of the overarching culture of continuous learning. In fact, onboarding shouldn’t really have an end. Ideally, your company is providing both new and established employees with ongoing learning opportunities. This helps keep your team focused on company objectives, develop new expertise, and help reshape and refine learned skills.

Employee Engagement

Engaged employees are effective employees. The opposite is also true; unengaged employees are almost guaranteed to be ineffective and unproductive and can lead to costly turnover. Traditional onboarding, which usually consists of hours-long monotonous training, allows the mind to wander. Employees get bored and start thinking about anything other than the information being presented to them, making the onboarding session largely futile. Digital onboarding, on the other hand, is engaging and easy to use. It can also be gamified to give your team an even more interactive and immersive training experience. Ensuring that your employees are engaged with onboarding, in turn, ensures that they’re absorbing the critical information you’re presenting.

Common Questions With Digital Onboarding

Here are some answers to employers’ and employees’ most frequently asked questions about digital onboarding solutions:

Is digital onboarding just one application?

No. Digital onboarding is a concept that can use one or more applications to complete the onboarding and employee training process.

Do I have to be tech-savvy to utilize digital onboarding?

Somewhat. You don’t need to know how to code, but you do need to know how to operate a computer or smart device. Most remote onboarding applications are extremely user-friendly and many contain easy-to-understand instructions on how to use the software.

How long does onboarding last?

The form-filling part of onboarding or preboarding is short lived, but the training part of onboarding can — and arguably should — be ongoing. Think of onboarding and continual training as part of your company culture instead of something to be checked off a new hire list.

Is online onboarding secure?

Digital onboarding applications are safe to use and provide robust security features to protect the sensitive information of both your company and your employees. Onboarding software designed for businesses that require more security, such as finance and healthcare organizations, may boast additional security to meet compliance requirements.

Do I need a new hire checklist?

New hire checklists are great to have. Many remote onboarding programs offer template checklists that can be tailored to your organization’s unique needs.

Tips to Ensure Successful Digital Onboarding

Make sure your employees are set up for success with these tips:

  • Prepare a warm greeting for your new hires. Whether you set up a prerecorded video or meet with your new employees via conference call, make sure to give your new team members a warm, personalized welcome.
  • Set attainable goals. New employees are eager to impress during the orientation and onboarding process but may become frustrated if the goals they’re meant to attain are too challenging. Keep productivity high by ensuring that the goals you set for new employees during onboarding are reachable.
  • Check in with new hires often. Digital onboarding is usually completed independently, which can sometimes have the effect of making an employee feel a little isolated or lost. Give new hires an orientation plan that outlines the onboarding process and be sure to check in with them frequently on a personal level to see how they’re doing.
  • Be open to feedback. If you’re just starting to implement digital onboarding, be open to feedback and constructive criticism from employees going through the program. Make changes as needed to suit the needs of your employees and facilitate their learning.