Digital Onboarding: Happier Hires, Greater Productivity

Marcus Fischer

“You only get one chance to make a first impression.”

This old sales axiom perfectly describes the importance of effective, efficient onboarding processes. While recruiting and interviewing introduce new employees to their future bosses and coworkers, onboarding is the first major introduction to the company as a whole. And more than 80% of employees decide within six months whether they plan to stay with a company long-term.

Creating the best possible onboarding process is especially important for professional services companies, for several reasons. First, the industry is built on highly skilled talent, which is both the product and the service—to be the best company you need to attract and keep the best talent. Second, given the close interaction between your employees and clients in service delivery, a good employee experience will drive a better client experience and subsequently larger contracts and more engagement. Finally, professional services thrives on revenue from employee billing—the faster an employee can be onboarded and sent into the field, the sooner they can start generating revenue.

With such compelling evidence, you would expect that onboarding and retention would have already been perfected by companies. But nearly 17% of employees quit in the first three months of employment, and 25% quit within the first year. So how can we reimagine onboarding to patch this crucial hole in company-wide business processes? New technology might just have the answer.

Reimagine onboarding

Digital technologies provide the opportunity to make onboarding a smooth, personalized, and engaging experience, and even allow you to start the new hire’s journey long before their first day at the company.

Digital paperwork

Say goodbye to the hour of passing papers over a desk for signatures, explaining the same clauses to multiple new hires in one day. Now, paperwork can be taken digital and built right into the onboarding process. With integrated talent management applications you can enable electronic documents and signatures, with data and documents fully integrated into your process. The automation means that manual intervention is only needed for exceptions—paperwork happens conveniently for the new hire while requiring no work hours from the HR team.

Virtual reality

Every new hire needs to know where the office refrigerator, bathroom, cafeteria, and best meeting rooms are located —and that takes time away from work for both the new hire and their tour guide. Imagine providing your new hire with a Google Cardboard VR viewer and a mobile app that takes them on a virtual reality tour through the company and their work environment. They can take the self-paced tour at any time before their first day, from anywhere. The tour can include videos with welcome messages from management and peers or initial training sessions, and can even be gamified to make it even more engaging.

Social networking

Bringing a tool that almost every new hire uses in their daily life into the office creates an instant connection and comfort to the new interactions they are about to experience. Social collaboration platforms help facilitate introductions to mentors, peers, hiring managers, and other employees, sometimes before a new hire events steps through the front door. The days of trying to remember 20 new names and match them to faces are gone. From Day One, your new hires can feel like they are part of a team.

Integrated software solutions

Integrated talent management solutions help ensure a continued smooth experience on the first day of work—with checklists, workflows, and integration with procurement that take care of all the logistics and processes a new hire faces. On Day One, your new hire can have a fully set-up workplace, an access card, a configured mobile phone, and system access. The software can automatically schedule meetings with the hiring manager and peers and have it set in the new hire’s calendar. Eliminating manual integration and information upload gives new hires more time to focus on the important information they need to succeed.

Machine learning

Setting goals is a crucial part of success in the first few months—it allows the manager and the new hire to agree on expectations. Intelligent learning recommendation services use machine learning to propose the most effective enablement activities based on the new hire’s existing skills, competencies, goals, and role. Then the manager and new hire use the same integrated system to define, document, and track 30-, 60-, and 90-day goals.

Digital onboarding creates an opportunity for an innovative and engaging new-hire experience that attracts top talent and ultimately lays the foundation for a great client experience. The accelerated time to productivity reduces the time it takes for new hires to become billable. And since digital solutions are scalable and require less manual effort, your company can grow its workforce faster than ever before while maintaining the same skilled HR department staff.

For more insight on digital leaders, check out the SAP Center for Business Insight report, conducted in collaboration with Oxford Economics, “SAP Digital Transformation Executive Study: 4 Ways Leaders Set Themselves Apart.”