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Increasing New Hire Satisfaction With Electronic Onboarding By Matthew J Sims

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Let's flash back a mere twelve months ago. My company was conducting new hire orientations, similar to what I suspect most organizations do. The new hire would sit in the HR conference room for about 3-4 hours reviewing policies, manually completing forms, realizing they didn't bring the proper identification required for the I-9 form, calling home to get the bank account information for their direct deposit form and so on. Seldom did the new hires show up with everything they needed to "hit the ground running", and they seldom knew what to expect on their first day. Comments made on new hire surveys reflected a broken process and a general dissatisfaction with our onboarding process. To make matters worse, managers rarely made sure all the proper IT requests were submitted and rarely had the new hire's workspace cleaned, prepared and ready for use. Not a great first impression, is it?
An organizational decision was made to improve the process globally, and it was my task to find the solution. After about of month of research and vendor presentations, we finally decided to pursue an electronic onboarding solution. The goal: improve the new hire onboarding experience, while significantly reducing non-value added orientation activities. As I write this today...mission accomplished!
We have successfully reduced non-value added orientation time by 95%. New hires no longer spend 3-4 hours in the HR conference room, they spend about 30 minutes (a human touch is still required). A local portal for each of our global facilities is housed on the onboarding solution which allows the new hire to walk in knowing just about everything they need to about their new workplace (i.e. cafeteria services, lobby hours, local dining information, HR contact information, detailed benefits information, etc). Since the solution is web-based, the new hire has the ability to review the information from the comfort of their own home. If they fall behind a bit behind on some of the required tasks, the system sends them a friendly reminder that the task due date is approaching. Hiring managers and HR also receive reminders if they fall behind on their assigned tasks.
Additionally, we have been able to eliminate 95% of the paper forms we used to give new hires when they walked in the door. The forms are now available to the new hire electronically, which not only saves some trees, it also gives the new hire an opportunity to review the required information needed to complete some of the forms (i.e. bank account information for the direct deposit form). Our U.S. locations are no longer required to fax new hire information to our payroll entry person, since she is now able to retrieve the information via the system.
Our electronic onboarding system is also utilized for post hire activities. Required e-learning, online pay statement information, a new hire survey and a quality-of-hire questionnaire are all initiated and tracked automatically within the first 120 days of employment. Since we completely manage the content, we are able to enhance the process "on the fly". We also have future plans to utilize the system for offboarding/the exit process. New hire reactions to the system have been positive. We've seen a significant increase in our new hire survey scores, and have been told by several new hires how helpful the system was in getting them prepared for their new position.
If your organization is struggling with implementing an effective onboarding strategy, I highly recommend that you explore an electronic onboarding solution. The product license is probably cheaper than you think, and the implementation process can be relatively simple. Once implemented, I guarantee you will be thinking, "Why didn't I do this sooner?"
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