Employee Onboarding in the Digital Workplace

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The workplace is changing. HR processes need to change with it. Companies of all shapes and sizes look to the digital realm to streamline processes, boost efficiency and jettison their operational dead weight. Why should your onboarding process be any different? 

Conventional onboarding processes require new hires to spend much of their early days completing time-consuming training exercises. These can be time-consuming and frustrating for both employers and new team members. Your new hires want to get their teeth stuck into their work, just as you want to start seeing a return on the investment you made in them as soon as possible. 

In the age of remote and hybrid working, digital onboarding can hugely improve the efficiency and flexibility of this integral process. It can enable new hires to hit the ground running quickly, while eliminating the excess costs and productivity loss that often come with onboarding. 

What does digital onboarding mean?

Digital employee onboarding uses digital technologies to provide a more flexible and cost-effective approach to onboarding new hires. It makes digital resources, files and exercises available to new hires 24/7. Thus, employees are empowered to take their learning into their own hands, completing tasks as their schedule permits while getting to grips with the practicalities of the job.  

What are the key advantages of digital onboarding?

When properly implemented, digital onboarding can be far more efficient, flexible and cost-effective than traditional onboarding processes. Let’s take a look at the key advantages for both new hires and the companies that employ them. 

Allows new hires to learn in their own way

Conventional onboarding can potentially cause friction between your company and your newest hires. Newcomers may have to deal with an avalanche of paperwork, and will undoubtedly be assailed with an avalanche of new information. And this can lead to less-than-flattering impressions of your business and its processes. The flexibility and availability of digital onboarding can ensure that your organization’s relationship with new hires is harmonious from day one. New hires are free to complete their onboarding at their own pace within an agreed timeframe. This allows them to create their own balance of theoretical and practical on-the-job learning that can facilitate a more comfortable start in their new role. 

Everyone has their own subtly different learning style, and digital onboarding gives new starters the freedom to learn in their own way in their own time. 

Automation means less impact on personnel 

The beauty of digital onboarding is that it automates a lot of key processes. Because content is delivered online, there’s no need for a member of your team to walk the new hire through it all. Conventional onboarding can be disruptive to your team. Especially if you need to remove key team members from their usual roles to facilitate 1-on-1 learning. 

Digital onboarding, on the other hand, reduces the need for personnel to be involved in the delivery of training modules. While it’s still advantageous to assign a mentor to new starters, digital onboarding ensures that their time is better spent with their mentees. Instead of delivering training in a dry classroom-style way, they are free to help new employees apply what they have learned from their digital onboarding content to the practicalities of their new role. 

Onboarding starts at day 0

Conventional onboarding starts at day one. And there’s usually a lot of content that needs to be delivered in a short space of time to get new hires up to speed. Not only can this be overwhelming for new hires, it can also throw a spanner in the workings of your operation. New hires can’t fulfill their operational duties until they’ve undergone the onboarding process. And that can take hours, or even days.

Digital onboarding starts at day zero, enabling new starters to become a functioning part of your business operations sooner. 

Less paperwork for your in-house HR team

Your in-house HR teams will doubtlessly thank you for embracing digital onboarding. The use of automation means less tedious paperwork for them, and more time to do what they do best. Ensuring that new starters feel happy, safe, engaged and confident in their new roles. 

Conducive to remote and hybrid working arrangements

Today’s workspace goes far beyond the office walls. Organizations like yours increasingly find that their teams are happier, more produced and better able to find their work/life balance when working remotely. Alternatively, many companies find that a hybrid approach offers them the best of both worlds. Because digital onboarding is accessible from anywhere, it lends itself perfectly to roles that require remote or hybrid working.

How do top technology companies onboard new employees?

Looking for ways to make your onboarding process more effective or efficient? Why not try taking a few tips from the world’s top technology companies. Many of the most ubiquitous blue chip companies have an unconventional or informal approach to employee onboarding. 

Feel free to cherry pick some of these onboarding practices to create the perfect process for your new hires.

  • Personalize onboarding docs for new hires so that the information in them is specific to their role, experience and career goals (Zapier)
  • Run “boot camps” to build camaraderie among newcomers, and help them to build a network within their cohort to pool their knowledge and experience (Facebook)
  • Have a “buddy system” where senior team members opt-in voluntarily to guide new hires through the day-to-day of their new role (Google)
  • Get an idea of their hardware choices and configurations before they start, so they can hit the ground running when it comes to using their tools (Netflix)

Why is employee onboarding so often not done smoothly?

Some companies often experience friction during the onboarding of new employees. This is commonly because their onboarding processes have not been revisited in a long time, and may no longer be fit for purpose. 

The onboarding materials used may have dated or may not accurately reflect the realities or demands of the role. Digital onboarding allows course content to be updated and adapted to suit the needs of each new hire. As such, the onboarding process is more likely to be relevant, engaging, and built around the needs of new team members. 

Using the 30/60/90 day plan to drive retention

High employee turnover is bad for business. It’s expensive for organizations, disrupts the quality of service that your customers expect from you, and impedes cohesion and camaraderie within your team. 

Implementing a 30/60/90 day plan can help organizations to keep new hires happy, engaged and motivated. 

The first 30 days

The first 30 days should be about helping new hires to feel confident, happy and assured in their new roles. Help them get to know your company’s missions, your organizational structure and what’s expected of them.

Be receptive to feedback. Address pain points and be proactive in offering them flexibility and balance at work.

The first 30-60 days

Within the first 30-60 days you should be helping new hires to expand on their knowledge and skills. You can incrementally start to ramp up their workload and put their knowledge into practice. Help them to build on their existing skills, and use what they have learned to set new goals in place. 

The first 60-90 days 

During their first 60-90 days, new hires should be encouraged to seek new challenges while mastering the skills they’ve developed. Through digital onboarding, you can provide them with access to learning materials and training modules that will test their skills. Setting goals for the end of their first year with you is also advisable.

Does your onboarding process need a reset?

Like all of your business processes, your onboarding system should be reviewed periodically. In the digital age, there are more tools than ever to ensure that the onboarding process directly addresses the needs of new hires. Digital onboarding can also help to improve employee retention, enhance productivity, and even save money.

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