Perks of Automating Employee Onboarding

Brittany Hink

Paperwork is one of the most dreaded words in a human resources department. Employee onboarding comes with a lot of important documents and forms to fill out and it can be a timely and tedious process that the HR department is responsible for completing. New hire forms, waivers, confidentiality agreements, paid time off, payroll, benefits; all of these (and more) require some form of paperwork or documentation. After completion, some documents need to be sent to other departments throughout the organization in a secure and efficient way. This can also become a timely and tedious process.
The act of automating employee onboarding may seem like a huge project of its own, but it is a project that is vital for organizational success. Everything from Fortune 1000 companies to start-ups and every size business in-between are looking for the most straightforward and simplistic way to automate the onboarding process. Business owners, CEOs and HR professionals are searching for technologies and solutions that can start by assisting in both time and money savings. However, there are many other justifications for the technology spend.
There are numerous software companies that advertise employee onboarding services that will help cut company-wide costs and manage the necessary documents - all in one place. But, what about all of the other services? Are they necessary? Is automating employee onboarding really necessary?
Why should you automate employee onboarding?
  • Cut-Costs: What CEO or business owner doesn’t want to cut organizational costs? Having the ability to automate employee onboarding can become a huge cost saver to the organization by limiting the number of individuals that input employee data. Cutting down the hours of administrative work can save a lot of money for any organization and help the bottom line. New hires can begin working faster, leading to quicker productivity - and ultimately more money. Automating employee onboarding can even save drastic amounts of money on paper and postage. Some companies have a hard time dishing out money for yet "another software" but once implemented, the overall ROI is well worth the initial investment and senior level business leaders are quickly seeing that benefit.
  • Manage Forms in One Place: This is another service that most vendors will highlight and advertise, but it is a very important service. Having a separate form for each function can really add up and keeping track of all of those forms can become quite the nuisance. With a digital process, the organization can collect and store all of the information in one easy-to-find place. This also gives both employers and employees the ability to review those forms at any time. If there are ever any questions on 401k plans or PTO each individual can review the information when it is needed.
  • Delivery Speed: Employees fill out all of the different onboarding documents and then those forms can sit in a folder for days, or even weeks, before they finally reach the final destination in the correct department. Having the ability to automatically route completed employee forms to the required departments is extremely efficient. The correct department could potentially be in a different building, city, state or even country. Receiving those documents can take a while and lets face it….how many times has a document been "misplaced?" Automated onboarding platforms can send completed information to correct department instantly and speed up many internal processes.
  • Gain Insights: Collecting data from onboarding processes can give valuable employee insights. This data can show skill gaps, current and new employee behaviors, and can even give estimates on how long an employee is expected to stay at the organization. Having the ability to use the onboarding process as a learning tool for the entire organization can be a very valuable shift in the way companies hire and train new employees.
  • Minimize Redundant Tasks: New hires feel like they are filling out the same information again and again. Sometimes they are. After a new hire finishes filling out the paperwork, it then goes to another employee that must enter the forms manually into the organizations current system. The repetition is unnecessary. With a successful automated onboarding process, you can eliminate redundant paperwork and save both the new hires and current employee’s time.
  • Save Time: People always say, "work smarter not harder; "so automated employee onboarding seems to be a no-brainer. Anything that gives you the ability to get more work done, with better results, in a shorter amount of time is always a win! Current employees can save time entering data and filing paperwork. New hires will spend less time filling out those redundant forms and can start training for their new role, quicker. Current employees will save tremendous amounts of time and can then focus on the necessary task at hand: business strategy. Both groups of individuals will feel that their overall contributions to the organization are more meaningful than repetitive paperwork.
  • Eliminate Errors: Once paperwork is filled out and finally transferred to the necessary department, the information then has to be entered into an organizational system. This means an individual has to enter each individual form exactly as the person filled it out. If the entered information is not correct, there could be numerous repercussions. An easy way to eliminate errors is to eliminate data entry via other employees. Giving new hires and existing employees the ability to electronically fill out forms and taking out the middleman can reduce input errors dramatically.
  • Happy Employees: Employee onboarding is not only for new hires but also for those employees that are transitioning from one role or department to another. For those that are transitioning within the organization, having an automated onboarding process can make those transitions painless and can increase overall productivity. Minimizing the amount of administrative work that managers have to oversee and collect allows for more face-to face training, personal development, and happier employees overall. Automated employee onboarding gives new employees the chance to acclimate to the company culture before their first official day on the job and also allows for an easy transition from their prior role. This can be very reassuring and comforting for new hires, leaving them happier and more content with the organization.

What should you look for when selecting a software company to automate employee onboarding?
  • Flexibility of Forms: Some software companies give you the templates for onboarding forms without the ability to edit or enhance them. Remember, these forms are going to YOUR colleagues and YOUR employees, you should have the ability to build individual and unique employee onboarding forms for YOUR organization. You want each touch point with your employees to have that personal feel and to highlight your organizational culture; a standard template will not show this.
  • Seamless Connection with Legacy Systems: One of the first questions you should discuss with the software company is the way that the system will integrate with current software and platforms throughout the organization. If this system does not communicate well with other platforms; keep looking. You want a digital platform that will work well with numerous platforms and will allow for a seamless process and the delivery of documents to numerous departments with no hiccups. Just imagine if you use software for all onboarding processes and the technology does not mesh well with your payroll technology. If an employee doesn’t get paid, that leaves a bad taste in their mouth.
  • Usability: The software needs to be easy to use. It needs to be easy for the HR team to change and make updates to forms and documents; and it needs to be easy for the employees that are filling out the documents. If the system is not user-friendly, this will cause more headaches than needed. When selecting automation software, verify the usability and identify the foreseeable pain points. If the usability seems uncertain, keep looking for a platform that fits your needs.
  • Security: The digital documents that are filled out by employees have confidential information about both the individual and the company. Any leak of that private information could be detrimental to organization. The automation tools that are implemented need to be extremely secure. Take time to discuss the security measures and protocols with the software company to understand what, how and where this information will be secured. Make sure to include other business leaders in on this discussion, it always helps to have a cybersecurity guru involved in the decision.
  • E-Signatures: It’s great when all of the documents are completed digitally and can be transferred from department to department automatically, but what about signatures that make the documents official? Electronic signatures have been around for some time but many organizations have been slow to implement. Using a software or a platform that has the availability of electronic signatures cuts down on postage, lost mail, and paper for printing and faxing the documents. Make sure that the software you are implementing allows for a quick and secure way to sign official documents.
There are many benefits for automating employee onboarding. The biggest impact for an organization is usually the cost savings that are associated with automation implementation. Onboarding tools can jumpstart the process of building a solid foundation for new employees while keeping current employees up-to-speed and highly engaged. An automated onboarding process can reduce turnover throughout all departments and business functions and can assist in retaining top talent. All of these things can show a quick return on investment and increase the bottom line.
Establish your wants and needs for automation tools and platforms before you start your hunt. When you are searching for a provider, be open and honest. The ones that really want your business will be willing to answer any and all questions up front and will work with you to ensure that you are giving your employees the best experience possible. Current employees will no longer be dealing with the hassle of paperwork and can instead turn their focus to more important business goals, leaving the company more profitable.