Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University—An International Flight School Launches Web-based Onboarding

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Kenny Corbin

Getting new-hires productive on Day 1 was the key driver behind Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s (ERAU) decision to implement web-based Onboarding and an integrated HR Portal/Knowledgebase. Face-to-face orientations are now more productive, too – employees arrive with benefit knowledge, policies acknowledged, and equipment and passwords provisioned and ready-to-launch from the start.

About ERAU

If you’ve ever dreamed of becoming an astronaut, then Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) is likely where you’d train. Founded in 1925, ERAU is the oldest, most prestigious university specializing in aviation and aerospace – and the only aviation-oriented university in the world. With over 5,000 employees in 130 international locations, it is also the largest.

The Business Need: Getting New-Hires Off the Ground

HR operations are managed from ERAU’s corporate offices in Daytona Beach, FL. And given the different time zones, cultures, and complexities across the globe, one of ERAU’s most significant challenges was efficiently onboarding new-hires.

Prior to implementing web-based onboarding technology, ERAU new-hires spent pre-board and onsite orientation time completing manual forms, trying to understand benefits options – and waiting for passwords, security codes, services, and equipment to be provisioned.

"We wanted new-hires to come to work ready to launch, not filling out paperwork or waiting until their phone or computer arrived," said Kenny Corbin, ERAU’sDirector ofCompensation and HRMS. "Feedback from managers and new employees was that their first week would go by without access to equipment and accounts. And our response was, ‘we didn’t even know you were here!’ Clearly, we needed a better way of knowing who was coming into our workforce, when, what their needs were, and how we could get them up and running so Day 1 could be more productive."

The ERAU Onboarding Experience: Beyond Automated Forms

Corbin explained, "Originally, we were looking to onboarding as just a way to automate paperwork and get I-9 and W4 forms processed in our HRMS. But when we found a solution that could incorporate safety videos, training, and welcome messages from our senior management, it really expanded our view of what onboarding meant: it’s not just automated forms, it’s an experience. And it’s one we very much wanted our new-hires to have."

A further key to ERAU’s onboarding success was the deployment of an HR Portal with Benefits Decision Support, so that new hires could get the information they needed to make informed benefits choices during pre-boarding.

Day 1 Goal: New-Hires Arrive Acclimated

One of the best ways to incorporate new-hires into the culture on Day 1 is to have the onboarding experience reflect the culture of the organization. Given the technical nature of ERAU’s mission – after all, their graduates are the leading engineers, astronauts, pilots, and airport commissioners worldwide! – it was critical to get the onboarding technology right.

"We wanted the overall new-hire experience to generate the kind of excitement ERAU generates for its students," continued Corbin. "New-hires are integrated into the fabric of our culture from the moment they sign on. The ability to embed videos and integrate with training they might need makes the onboarding experience all the more welcoming."

An HR Portal within a Corporate Portal – All from a Single Sign-on

Dubbed EagleEye, the HR Portal is now the one-stop shop for all HR-related activities. Once a new-hire has accepted a position, the Oracle HRMS generates a "Welcome Aboard" email – with a link to initiate the online new-hire process.

EagleEye sits within a corporate intranet, dubbed ERNIE. Only one password and single sign-on is necessary to access everything HR-related. And once in, EagleEye knows the employee, their location, title, role, benefits eligibility, and bargaining unit, if applicable.

Results: The Sky’s the Limit for ERAU and Onboarding

Today, ERAU has realized some significant results:

  • Face-to-face orientations are more effective. With most routine questions answered prior to onsite orientations, ERAU no longer sees that "glazed look" of people taking in too much information. Instead, new-hires are busy getting at the essentials of why they came to work at ERAU.
  • Happy, more productive, and engaged new-hires. Surveys and feedback have shown that new-hires feel more integrated into the fabric of the organization, were brought up to speed faster, and were productive on Day One.

And the future?

"We’re looking at even more segmented tours for different employee groups – specific to the campus they’re joining – expanding into cross-boarding for promotions and transfers, and including some third-party links, like 3-D flyovers of each campus. We really want new-hires to have the ‘You Are Here’ experience," added Corbin.

Keys to Success

When asked to what factors ERAU can attribute its success, Corbin responded:

  • Web-based solution accessible 24/7
  • International capabilities
  • Personalized tours
  • Content in context with transactions so employees are informed benefits consumers

"Although cost-savings and reducing manual processes were factors in automating onboarding, the most important driver was improving service to new-hires and their managers. If you select the right vendor, you don’t have to choose between cost-savings and better service. You can have both," concluded Corbin.