Electronic Onboarding Best Practices & Implementation Tips

March 27, 2023

In related articles, we’ve explored the importance of developing an electronic onboarding process to increase employee engagement, retention, and satisfaction. Electronic onboarding measurably improves business productivity, whether it’s by creating more cohesive teams, boosting your three-year employee retention percentage to nearly 70%, or eliminating the nearly $4,000 average cost of replacing a departing employee and hiring a new one.

If you’re curious about the benefits of electronic onboarding, but have lingering questions about how to concretely implement a process that supports your business and employees, we’re here to help. In this article, we’ll offer electronic onboarding best practices and implementation tips that will allow your business to design and apply a strategy that quickly brings your new hires up to speed, facilitates high productivity, and acclimates new employees to your company culture. 

Prioritize Preboarding 

Particularly at a time when work configurations (remote, hybrid, hybrid-at-will, etc.) are in flux, if you can electronically deliver important onboarding materials well in advance of a new hire’s “official day one,” it can significantly improve an employee’s productivity in the first three months. Additionally, it gives your new hire a chance to become familiar with important HR resources ranging from the employee handbook to company contact sheets or a more comprehensive welcome guide.

Concretely, preboarding gives your new hire more dedicated time to review, complete, and submit HR forms and tax forms, and to complete any necessary training in advance of their first day with your company. The goal of preboarding is to avoid two obvious pitfalls of a more traditional onboarding approach: a) a deluge of HR-related tasks/paperwork on Day 1 and b) a sense of disconnection as the new hire begins their first day without any existing familiarity with other team members, the company culture, job expectations, etc.

With the right HR software, all of these preboarding processes are streamlined, allowing you to share due dates for each preboarding step, document due, or training/e-signature required. Through electronic onboarding, you’re also granted the opportunity to help new hires become acclimated to company culture more gradually. More companies are using the preboarding process to offer a more incremental and personalized welcome to new hires, whether it’s by sending a welcome package by mail, recording a welcome message, coordinating virtual meetings with team members in the hire’s department, or just setting up a time to have coffee/tea and answer any questions about the company. Ultimately, preboarding is beneficial to your entire company because it helps the new hire feel more informed, confident, and at ease about their start day while increasing the likelihood that they will meaningfully contribute to existing projects and tasks even in the first few weeks of employment. 

Set the Right Tone for Day One – Provide Consistent Support

A thoughtful preboarding process goes a long way to make a new hire’s first day less overwhelming, but there are more steps employers can take on the official “day one” start date. For on-site employees, it’s essential to have a new hire’s desk arranged with everything they’ll need to start efficiently at the workplace (identification badges, any login information they don’t already have, and otherwise). It’s also best to format day one (and likely week one) as a combination of practical work tasks, as well as welcome and socialization experiences, ranging from a paid lunch with other team members to individual in-person meetings with team members from other departments. Meeting the HR or IT staff who are generally available for support will also give the new hire a clear sense of who they can speak to if they have a question or issue in the first week and beyond.

With IT in mind, you should ideally familiarize your new hire with any integral software or equipment that they will use on day one, or in some cases earlier. If in-person training is more practical, then day one/week one is the time to get started, but it’s advisable to at least start the learning process during the preboarding stage, so any new employee is not starting from scratch. The same applies to any apps or devices a new hire will need to use. Depending on the range of tools and software your business uses, the amount of time you’ll need to dedicate to this process will vary. 

Again, if it’s possible to make this tech-oriented learning process more incremental (completed partially or wholly during electronic preboarding), this will make tasks like credential management, navigating software, and device usage much more intuitive for your new hire on day one. Of course, remember that each new hire’s level of technical proficiency may vary, so establish methods for gauging this and providing necessary support until they feel fully comfortable with all the programs and tools required to excel.

Establish a 30-60-90-Day Plan to Monitor Progress and Establish Expectations

Regardless of how conscientious and self-directed an employee may be, it’s extremely helpful for managers and employees to establish clear goals and expectations for the first 30, 60, and 90 days to guide and track progress. This can include monitoring progress with any necessary training, as well as the completion of meaningful projects, tasks, or job responsibilities.

All of these expectations should be clearly articulated from day one, avoiding any vagueness and establishing reasonable performance goals that can be referenced over the first 90 days by both the new hire and their manager. This “roadmap” can offer new hires peace of mind with the awareness that their performance expectations and job responsibilities are clear and unmistakable, minimizing the likelihood of miscommunication.

It's equally important to create a mixture of short-, mid-, and long-term goals and for managers to make a genuine effort to understand the long-term goals of new hires. While it’s important to establish and mutually understand the importance of specific technical training, for instance, when these tasks can be contextualized within larger career goals or ambitions, they become important steps in a broader process of development, increased competency, and increased opportunities for promotion or career advancement within the company. 

Conducting a formal performance review at 30-, 60-, and 90-day intervals will not only allow a manager and new hire to make course corrections as needed, but it will also allow the employee to provide valuable feedback about the onboarding process, including how it could be improved. As with understanding a new hire’s long-term goals and ambitions, it’s clear that one-on-one time with a direct manager is incredibly valuable to new hires, personalizing the onboarding process by allowing them to ask questions, receive feedback, and strategize with their manager on how to improve (or sustain existing success). Remember that all of these strategies can be easily adapted to support fully remote workers, with personalized attention and support remaining the common denominator.

Involve Your Entire Team & Delegate Onboarding Tasks

Providing training, support, goal-setting and an early welcome to a new hire should not fall exclusively on one or two employees within a company. If you’re able to provide incentives to current employees from different departments to be part of a “welcome team” for new hires, this can ensure that someone from HR, IT, the employee’s department, their manager, and others are each contributing whatever they can (chiefly their expertise) to get a new hire up to speed.

Employee familiarity and training with HR software that includes electronic onboarding tools can make it easier to coordinate these efforts. Some companies also specifically designate an “ambassador,” who is usually a more experienced employee capable of answering questions and providing guidance. Additionally, your existing employees can be consulted at any time to discuss their past onboarding experiences, look at proposed upgrades (electronic onboarding, for instance), and offer feedback on which steps are most practical to take with new hires to help them achieve productivity early in their time with the company.

Optimize Onboarding and Employee Productivity with Payday

Even if the benefits of electronic onboarding are clear, it can feel overwhelming to execute any new HR strategy in-house without the expertise and tools you need to succeed. That’s why Payday offers a comprehensive recruiting and onboarding solution that allows your business to adapt your onboarding process (including preboarding) to accommodate remote, hybrid, and fully on-site hires. 

Ready to streamline your onboarding process to improve employee experience, retention, and productivity? Contact us today to learn more about how our electronic onboarding solution can help you implement the best practices we’ve discussed and achieve your productivity goals.

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