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Like almost everything else since the pandemic began, onboarding is no longer what it used to be. But what is it now? And more importantly, how can CEOs, HR Directors, and other hiring managers know what it should look like in this new world?

To understand why your onboarding practices need to change, it’s helpful to first examine what prompted this. From the work from home phenomenon to improving the applicant experience to staying ahead of the competition, here are some reasons your processes might need to be revamped.

Work from home. Clearly, the shift toward hiring remote workers — especially the fact the entire process can happen without ever meeting a new hire face-to-face — is the largest driver of the need to change your onboarding. Cloud-based programs can help, but it is critical to ensure that you are comfortable maintaining the same level of access to these important HR documents that you are accustomed to having in your previous environment.

Beyond paperless. Going paperless is not an option anymore, it’s a necessity. If you haven’t done that yet, it’s the first thing you need to do. But if you’re not careful, there are lots of things that can trip you up. The security of your HR information is naturally at the top of the list of concerns. But it’s not just about encryption and data isolation. It’s also vital to try to limit the number of software vendors you use to conduct the various stages of the onboarding process.

Many companies use numerous software applications to interact with applicants and bring new hires on board. Besides the extra work involved there is more of a chance of a security breach, and a higher chance of mistakes with each different platform used.

The dream of a single employee record. You might be reading this and saying, yes, we use 10 different applications for onboarding, but they are “integrated.” All integrations are not created equal. A true, native integration should mean that there is a single employee record or a defined “source of truth” for the employees’ core demographic data. When using multiple systems that are poorly integrated, you might deal with discrepancies between the platforms, and if it’s not addressed, you’ll get bogged down trying to figure out why things don’t “match up”.

The best onboarding systems are the ones that utilize a single employee record and seamlessly integrate as many of the job application, recruiting and hiring functions as possible. If you are not doing that, then you are spending too much time and making too many mistakes, putting your company at risk.

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The applicant experience.  It’s easy to downplay the work that an applicant has to do in order to work for your company. If you present an applicant with a smooth, seamless experience, it makes a much better first impression than an onboarding process that requires them to create several accounts and remember numerous passwords. Put your best foot forward, eliminate friction for applicants, and show people that you care about them by improving the tech you use for onboarding, and we all know that those first impressions linger in the minds of new hires for a long time.

Staying competitive. Your ability to provide secure, seamless, technologically savvy onboarding is a critical part of your competitiveness. Tens of thousands of businesses went by the wayside in the past year. The ones who survived tended towards the companies who most easily adapted to using technologies to replace formerly non-digital processes. Bigger companies had already largely made those transitions; small and medium businesses can’t wait a moment longer to get serious about using the right HR technology if they want to stay relevant.

Ultimately, it comes down to simple math. If it costs you twice as much time and you make twice as many errors in your HR processes, it will quickly become a serious liability for your company. Fortunately, there are many great options out there to help you get started, and they can be accessed at reasonable prices. For us at StaffGlass, the power of integrated onboarding is our raison d’etre.