This content is part of the Essential Guide: HR mobile apps for employees strengthen HCM strategies

Employee onboarding automation boosts retention, recruiting

Software that automates the onboarding process has benefits that go far beyond labor savings in HR. It can be vital to a positive employee experience that impacts the bottom line.

Employee onboarding is a critical process of new employee orientation that bridges the gap between recruiting the employee and helping them quickly become a productive member of the team. While, in the past, the onboarding of new employees has been largely manual and done around the time an employee arrives for her first day of work, onboarding has become much easier to manage and execute, thanks to employee onboarding automation software.

Recent studies have been conclusive that many employees decide whether to stay or leave based on their onboarding experience. With many countries facing low levels of employment -- some at record or near-record levels -- and showing signs of a scarcity of available talent, the experience an employee receives during the recruiting and onboarding processes is critical to retaining employees who can easily find jobs elsewhere. That is why employee onboarding automation has become more popular in the last few years.

Efficiency benefits of employee onboarding automation

But it's not just about the employee experience. Employee onboarding automation provides significant efficiencies to organizations by streamlining and automating the following processes:

  • moving an employee's information from the applicant tracking system to the onboarding system or HRIS;
  • giving employees access to information about their new role, team and development plan before their first day;
  • issuing instructions about entering the office, including security procedures, time entry, vacation booking, accessing internal systems, etc.;
  • triggering provisioning of equipment, badge access and system access;
  • generating an email address, network username and so on;
  • collecting requisite employment data -- address, biographical information, identification documentation, work permit or visa, tax declarations, etc. -- using electronic signatures;
  • feeding information to downstream systems, such as payroll, time and attendance, benefits, pension, project management, expenses management and the like;
  • providing an interface for new employees to get questions answered while they are getting oriented into their new role -- or even before they join; and
  • tracking the status of all pending activities and providing notifications, updates and reminders to the employee, manager and HR department.

Employee onboarding automation software should also be able to support crossboarding (onboarding for employees who are transferring to new roles within the organization) and offboarding (the process when employees leave the organization). The benefits of supporting both of these processes should not be lost when focusing on the value of onboarding.

Crossboarding enables seamless transition of an employee from one role to another. This could be as simple as changing desk location and being introduced to the new team, or it could involve modifying system access and updating downstream systems with the specifics of the new role.

Offboarding can be more critical than onboarding or crossboarding. For example, failing to deprovision system access and set up a final payroll run carries the risk of data security breaches and having to recover salary overpayments. Additionally, there are costs for not deactivating licenses for systems and ramifications to maintaining business operations if an employee's work is not redistributed.

Numerous software packages are available to help manage employee onboarding. It is worth researching how each offering's features fit your particular onboarding process. While some systems might offer electronic signatures, they might only integrate with one electronic signature vendor. Other systems might offer integration with multiple learning management systems but don't integrate tax information with a payroll system. Other employee onboarding automation systems might only integrate well with software from the same vendor.

Analyze your onboarding requirements

When implementing an employee onboarding automation system, it is important to understand your current requirements, along with the new capabilities the system might provide. Ask these questions:

  • How do you want to be perceived by the employee during the onboarding process?
  • Do you want an employee portal, and if so, when should you provide access to new employees?
  • Who needs what information and when?
  • What workflows and notifications are needed?
  • As for integrations: What data needs to flow to where, when does it need to flow and what is the desired outcome? How much of the data input by employees can be replicated to other systems?
  • How many countries, regions and jurisdictions do you operate in, and how many different processes do you need?
  • Does the system support all of your local compliance needs, such as visas or work permits, tax documents, languages, etc.?
  • Does the system support electronic document signatures, including those of your vendor of choice, if you have one?

Unlike many other employee-facing HR systems, employee onboarding automation systems don't need quite as much change management. Since only new employees, those changing roles or those leaving often see these systems, it is essentially only the managers and HR that need to know how to choose a system. If implemented properly, their change management impact is often less than with other types of systems because the value can be seen quickly and easily.

Dig Deeper on Talent management

Business Analytics
Content Management
and ESG