shaking hands
First impressions go a long way towards ensuring long-term employee happiness PHOTO: Spot Us

Companies wrestling to attract and retain the best and brightest talent must make employee engagement the driving force behind their digital workplaces. 

This starts with the onboarding process and carries through daily interactions, position changes and eventually, offboarding.

In the first of this two-part series, we'll explore the importance of strategic onboarding and digital considerations for creating the best impression with employees starting before day one. 

Start Off on the Right Foot

You may be asking why digital processes for onboarding matter? Shouldn’t digital experiences be a consideration once an employee is settled into their roles?

First impressions matter. Of the 22 HR practices analyzed by the Boston Consulting Group, onboarding had the second highest impact on long-term employee retention. The ability of employees to acclimate and contribute is largely impacted by their initial interactions with their employer, so get the first impression right.

Digital processes play a key role in creating a positive initial experience, delivering vital information to employees from the moment they accept employment. They immerse them in the company culture from the start and enable them to be productive on day one. 

Additionally, as many companies hire virtual, remote or gig workers, digital processes become necessary to smoothly onboard hires who won’t even step foot in an office.

4 Steps to Strategic Employee Onboarding

Here are four considerations to develop a strategic, digital onboarding experience:

1. Get Organized 

Onboarding touches multiple parts of the business: IT, facilities, finance and HR, to name a few. Unless digital processes are in place to gather different information requests and assets to send to a new employee, this phase takes considerable time, communication and coordination. 

Many companies falter at this stage and some leave new hires frustrated and idle for several weeks as all the assets, processes and tools come together to allow them to prepare for their new role.

Technology can facilitate a formalized, holistic approach. By having one system that all stakeholders can access and share information and materials in, the employee gets smooth communications rather than ad hoc requests. Plus, all departments gain visibility into employees’ progress through the onboarding phase and can better understand what they might need to do to support their start.

2. Use Mobile to Your Advantage

Consider how today’s employee wants to receive materials and complete information requests. Start with the offer letter. In some cases, a written offer is sent digitally, but often candidates still receive a paper version. This process should not only be fully digitalized but also mobile. It is quicker and sends the right signal of a modern company that says, “we don’t expect you to be stuck to a PC to complete this.”

In fact, companies have an opportunity to streamline the entire documentation collection process through digital and mobile, meaning employees don’t have to take in physical copies of important documents.

3. Start the Process Before Day One

Strategic onboarding goes beyond administrative, tactical tasks. Employers should use technology to automatically distribute the assets and tools a new employee needs to hit the ground running based on their role.

Of course, they’ll still need to know which time and day to show up and their schedule for the first day. But also consider that as a new employee one often doesn’t know how to get things done, what company policies are or where to go. First-day employees end up asking lots of questions to many people, and it can take weeks to become fully productive.

Now imagine being able to get many of those first questions answered in advance. For example: 

  • “How do I get on the Wi-Fi network?”
  • “How do I print?”
  • “I need to share files with other people. How do I do that?”
  • “What is the org structure for my department?” 

Facilitating a full digital workplace that gets new workers acclimated to the company, processes and people makes it so much easier for them to become capable from day one.

4. Adapt to Remote and Virtual Workers

Finally, a common perception is that a successful onboarding process requires a new hire to be physically present in an office. Employees are distributed all over the world now, and they can be remote or work from home. 

The strategic onboarding process must adapt to meet those employees’ needs by providing the tools, materials and processes for new hires to speak to colleagues, undertake trainings and more, regardless of location.

A company only has one opportunity to make a winning first impression with new employees. The right strategies and technology can help engage employees right from the moment they are hired and the investment is well worth it.

The next article will explore how digital strategies help cultivate a continuously engaged and productive workforce.