Your Guide to Creating a Modern Employee Onboarding Program

Matt Dressel
August 3, 2021

Finding it hard to keep good talent within your organization? Try starting at the beginning, with our guides you can provide them with the tools they need to succeed in the onboarding process.

Throughout this article, we are going to cover some of the reasons employee onboarding is so important and what you should be doing to improve this important workflow in your organization. If you are interested in learning more, you can download the complete guide at the end of this article.

Employee Onboarding is Critical to Hiring and Keeping Great Talent

The first year on the job is a vulnerable period for a new hire. It’s riddled with unknowns—from grasping historical company knowledge that impacts decision-making to figuring out where one fits into the office’s social landscape.

According to a recent study by SHRM, the trajectory of a new hire’s success with an organization during this critical time is directly impacted by their onboarding experience. Since onboarding is an employee’s first true immersion into an organization, it helps set the tone for future work with teams and clients. It’s a crucial moment where a new hire can choose to engage—or worse, disengage—with your organization.  

Yet, 35% of companies report that they don’t have a formal onboarding program in place. That’s even more troubling when you consider that 20% of turnover occurs within the first 45 days of employment, most often due to a lack of direction and progression. And, as most businesses know all too well, the cost of turnover is high. Apart from the tangible cost of advertising and time spent interviewing or training, employers can suffer from a loss of productivity and engagement when an employee chooses to leave.  

Having a structured onboarding program in place is a surefire way to affirm an employee’s choice to join your organization. A clearly defined process helps new hires understand how they fit into the bigger picture, adopt knowledge faster, and feel a greater sense of purpose. Without a comprehensive solution, you risk your new hire feeling left behind and disengaged.

How is This Different Than What You Might be Doing Today?

Many employers think they’re great at onboarding simply because they have the paperwork down—in fact, over 50% of employers said that their employee intake focuses solely on these administrative processes. But, for an employee, being a contributing member of an organization goes far beyond just signing on the dotted line. In today’s modern workplace, employees want to know that they’re part of something bigger than themselves.   

Studies show that an employee’s workplace engagement is determined by the treatment and orientation they receive in their first days of employment. Automating the administrative and technical portions of onboarding streamlines an employee’s intake, shifting the focus instead to making new hires feel welcome in their new environment.

Additionally,  many organizations already have initiatives to implement modern workplace practices. Most don’t consider employee onboarding, despite the fact that this is the very first opportunity your organization has to introduce a new employee to their modern workplace. Focusing on this infrastructure is especially important if your organization is experiencing a period of growth and expansion. Creating consistency between a new hire’s onboarding experience and day-to-day workstyle helps align them with your company’s vision and processes from the start.  

The Basics of Improving and Automating your Onboarding Process 

There are over fifty basic administrative tasks and forms that a new hire and a Human Resources employee will have to complete during the initial onboarding process. The entire system can understandably feel overwhelming and tedious. 

Automating the onboarding process helps employers focus on connecting new hires with culture, taking down red tape that often bars a new employee from immediately integrating with their team. But, where does one get started? There are a few basic tools that an employer can implement without much effort:

  • Digital onboarding forms. Many first days consist of sitting in a conference room alone filling out paperwork. Going paperless is perhaps the simplest way to make the onboarding process less cumbersome for a new hire. Digital forms can be accessed anywhere, anytime, helping new staff complete their administrative intake faster. 
  • One-time data entry. Employers can take digitizing the process a step further by enabling single entry of information. Entering data manually into repeated forms can be a slow and sometimes inaccurate process. Enabling one-time data entry allows your new hire to populate information into multiple applicable areas such as payroll and time tracking in a single go. Not only will this save your new hire time, but help make future updates to their information easier and more secure.
  • A central repository for information. Often, new employees feel burdensome simply because they’re trying to figure things out. Additionally, those basic questions can distract current staff members from their workflows. A central repository acts as a single source of information for employees to reference whenever they need to know something about your organization. Think company rosters, training links, administrative processes—even a signup for Friday’s potluck.
  • A company communication portal. One of the most overwhelming parts for someone in a new job is learning the social landscape and their place in it. An engaging communication portal can help employees learn who’s who and foster direct and meaningful relationships, even before their first day in the office. If you truly want to set your new hires up for success, you can also connect them with a seasoned staff mentor that can act as a resource to them before and beyond their first day.

These essential tasks just scratch the surface of how an employer can simplify the onboarding process for new hires. Getting started with these basics can help companies refocus energy where it really matters: building important foundational relationships with a new employee.

Onboarding is More Than Paperwork and Making Sure They Get Their First Paycheck

Many employers have an informal onboarding process that lasts over the course of a single week. If they are doing a good job, they might even have a system set up over the course of ninety days. But, if a company really wants to make their employee experience something special, it’s becoming increasingly important to extend the onboarding process throughout the course of a new hire’s first year.

This strategy helps employers create stronger and more meaningful relationships with their employees and ultimately, improve retention. A holistic program can take the process from good to great with a few key elements:

  1. Pre-boarding employees. Getting your new hire up to speed shouldn’t be limited to day one. Through automation, your new team member can complete the basic administrative tasks and learn who is who prior to even setting foot in their workspace. With so much new information being shared, it’s important not to inundate a new hire with too much at once and give them an opportunity to ease in at their own pace.
  1. Onboarding checkpoints. It’s important to reinforce an employee’s understanding and comfort level at regular intervals during the onboarding process. Setting up easy wins and connection-related to-do’s can help an employer manage the employee’s progression throughout their onboarding journey.
  1. Integrating new hires into culture. Perhaps most important of all, the mark of a truly impactful onboarding program is an employee’s integration into a company’s culture. Building camaraderie through the previously mentioned techniques helps employees feel a greater sense of ownership and belonging in their new role, making them more productive and effective in their work.

In summary, by moving beyond the basics of onboarding a new employee, employers can more thoughtfully and efficiently manage the transition from new employee to an integral part of the team.

How Can You Leverage Office 365 to Make This a Great Experience?

Building a comprehensive onboarding program might seem like a lot of additional work or is intimidating, it doesn’t have to be. Through modern technology, you can automate and systematize the tedious and difficult portions to allow your team to focus on the personal aspects of an employee’s onboarding.

If you are already using Office 365 in your Modern Workplace, there are a number of tools that can help you get started:

  • Microsoft New Employee Onboarding Toolkit – Microsoft has created a set of example sites and tools related to employee onboarding that you can install and kickstart your onboarding platform.
  • Microsoft Lists, Planner, To-Do – Transform your paper checklists and task list into a digital collaboration tool.
  • Microsoft Forms – Use a digital survey tool to get feedback from all stakeholders.
  • Power Virtual Agents – Create a chat bot to respond to employee and manager questions.

Download the Complete Guide for More Details  

We couldn’t fit all the great content we have about this topic in this article, so we created a downloadable package with even more content!  

  • Employee Onboarding Timeline – This will give you a high-level idea of what you should be thinking about with new employees. But don’t just stick to what we have!
  • Using Modern Tools for Onboarding – Wondering just how to use modern tools in your onboarding process? Check this out for some technology to consider and how you might use them.  
  • Microsoft New Employee Onboarding Toolkit Overview – Learn more about the Microsoft New Employee Onboarding toolkit. Including what content it covers, who should consider using it and any gotchas.

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