Digital onboarding: Is there an optimum way to integrate new starters?by
In this age of digitisation and remote working, digital onboarding is not just a desirable process, but a fundamental cog of the new starter machine.
The new norm is now just the norm; remote working is embedded within working life and companies have adapted to this new way of working. A key challenge of this adaptation is how to integrate new starters into your business: is there a way to do digital onboarding right?
According to research by Glassdoor, companies with a strong onboarding process improve employee retention by 82% and productivity by 70%. Clearly, the benefits are there to see, and onboarding is laying the foundation for the relationship between the employer and employee. With digital onboarding, it’s even more important to nail it.
Unleashing digital onboarding means the timeframe from point of first contact to the first day of work can happen in a matter of weeks, even days
Unleashing digital onboarding
Digital onboarding creates a unified, coherent and efficient process to integrate new starters. Online documents remove the overload of paperwork, and the process can include checklists, confirmation and e-signatures in a simple and easy-to-follow manner.
Digital onboarding’s prime benefit is that it ensures the employee can hit the ground running and achieve the desired impact pretty much from the get-go. It's a win-win for both the new starter and employer.
It’s also much more cost-savvy. It eliminates the need for face-to-face meetings and reduces the need for one-to-one training. You can multiply efficiency, onboarding numerous people with nearly the same effort as one by harnessing digital communication tools such as Slack, Zoom and Teams.
Crucially, this all makes the onboarding undertaking markedly quicker. Unleashing digital onboarding means the timeframe from point of first contact to the first day of work can happen in a matter of weeks, even days.
A three-tiered approach to digital onboarding
A structured approach to onboarding is perfect for digital onboarding and makes the journey much easier to digest. The first stage begins with pre-onboarding, where employers have the opportunity to provide initial information about the business, culture and what to expect.
Hot on the heels of pre-onboarding comes new employee onboarding. This is the official onboarding to the company – it’s all about making sure the essential information and training are given to the new starter. These can be made up of online meetings with various managers, specialists and departments.
And finally comes departmental onboarding. This is where employees can gain a deeper insight into their department, meet colleagues and discover more about their priorities and day-to-day tasks.
By offering a clear, concise and effective journey, new starters can adjust to their new business settings incrementally and feel more at ease to kick off their work.
Must-have steps to onboarding new starters
There are, of course, the go-to first steps of onboarding a new starter, including meeting the team and accessing platforms and accounts. But this just scratches the surface. With new starters, there are a number of must-have procedures to implement to help explain what might not be obvious at first to the new employee.
Folder structure & naming conventions
Companies need to make sure the employee is aware of what service they use, for example, Dropbox or Sharepoint, and offer the training or documents for them to learn how it works. Is there a specific naming convention used for folders? Training now avoids issues further down the line.
An online hub of informative and practical documents, via the cloud, microsite or intranet, gives employees easy access to everything that may be needed when starting off
Displaying team members can be very useful for new starters early on, especially when dealing with a large team. Knowing who is who and what they do makes life that much easier.
Organisations are now relying heavily on digital tools, so you should always try and offer as much information about your systems as possible. Is there training available for this software? Do you utilise branded templates or plug-ins that need highlighting? Making the less obvious, obvious helps for a smoother onboarding experience.
Scheduling regular meetings
This is, of course, a vital component in allowing employees to get a handle on the various facets of the business and, crucially, keeping them in the loop. This can include more informal ‘check-ins’ to touch base and resolve any issues.
Three considerations for this approach to digital onboarding
Firstly, make sure your training is engaging and fun. It’s easy for new starters to become overwhelmed with so much to take in. People learn in different ways and styles, so cultivate training programmes that cater to that; the four different learning styles are visual, auditory, reading & writing and Kinesthetic (VARK). Attentive and captivating training programmes mean people take in and retain information better.
Secondly, have all your company information in one place. An online hub of informative and practical documents, via the cloud, microsite or intranet, gives employees easy access to everything that may be needed when starting off. Keep these spaces well organised and folders clearly named, so employees can check things off easily.
Thirdly, regular communication is paramount in a remote working environment that lacks the social interactions you’d get working in the office. Making the most of video conferencing software, messaging apps and collaborative platforms on a daily basis is essential for integration and avoiding people feeling isolated.
Taking it offline - the non-digital essentials to digitise onboarding
So what’s the best way to implement this approach moving forward? An alignment between strategy, technology and business is required to create the optimum onboarding experience, tying in the concepts outlined above. This is one that has a clearly structured onboarding process, utilising technological tools and feeding into the company culture.
Employees also need to be equipped with the right tech tools to hit the ground running
Do you have this structure in place? Create a cloud database, employ the same digital tools across the company and offer a visual journey and checklist structure. If employees are singing off the same hymn sheet, then new starters will be able to fit in much more seamlessly.
Employees also need to be equipped with the right tech tools to hit the ground running. Being able to sign in effortlessly and access all of the relevant documents, platforms and accounts takes away any unnecessary new starter anxiety and paves the way for a clean start.
In this age of digitisation and remote working, digital onboarding is not just a desirable process, but a fundamental cog of the new starter machine. The tools are there to achieve it – so why not use them?