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Table of Contents

Create a memorable first day in minutes

We’ve all shown up to a first day of work and been stuck in an office all day filling out new-hire paperwork. It’s not the most welcoming of ways to greet a new employee and harness their excitement. Automated onboarding offers an alternative.

What Is Automated Onboarding?

Depending on your age, you may or may not remember what looking for jobs used to require. You’d rush out the front door to grab the Sunday newspaper lying in the driveway, flip to the classifieds, and search for job ads that could apply to you. On Monday morning, you’d drive to the company just to get a paper application to complete.

Can you even begin to imagine if that was our current reality? We live in a world where we’re accustomed to instant gratification. Now, when a candidate applies for a job on LinkedIn, they can view the number of other applicants who applied. They know how their resume and skills rank against the job posting. That process is the start of automated onboarding.

Automated onboarding involves using technology to create a virtual welcoming experience. It makes all the paperwork involved in the hiring and onboarding experience as easy as possible. Beginning as early as posting the job, reviewing applicants, and making an offer, it intentionally builds relationship with candidates that continues through the applicant accepting the position, completing pre-employment requirements, and joining the organization on Day 1.

Advantages of Automated Onboarding

Automated onboarding is important because it simplifies the process from applicant to new hire experience through year one. Automated onboarding allows the new hire to be introduced to the organization’s values and culture from their first interaction with the organization. It:

  • Improves employee retention. The purpose of automated onboarding is to establish an active partnership with the candidate/new employee. It enables you to establish a successful long-standing relationship with new hires that results in loyalty and belonging.
  • Reduces cost. Automated onboarding reduces cost by reducing the number of staff and administrative hours involved for new employee data entry. This means new employees can begin working within hours on their first day.
  • Ensures consistency. Automated onboarding does not replace human interaction. However, it does enhance HR’s ability to welcome new employees. Automated onboarding helps keep everything current.   
  • Simplifies paperwork. One of the biggest headaches with employee onboarding is the unending pile of paperwork that must be completed and tracked. Automated onboarding eradicates duplication by using online forms that collect the new employee’s data while housing the documents electronically in an online employee file.

Challenges of Automated Onboarding

Along with the promise and potential of automating sections of your onboarding process comes some challenges as well. Here are a few to consider.

Is the New Hire’s Personal Information Secure?

We constantly hear stories about data breaches with credit card companies or online realtors. It is crucial that as we collect personal information during the onboarding process, the information is secure. HR can ensure security by utilizing an access management system. The access management system increases security with multi-factor authentication. Each new hire selects a secure way to log into the HRIS system, such as receiving an email or text message with a PIN that they enter at login.

Does the Company Support Automated Onboarding?

Implementation of an automated onboarding experience can come with a lot of pushback. HR will run into various criticisms of automated onboarding, but one major issue we all face is unwillingness to change. This is the time for HR to accentuate the benefits of an automated onboarding process, such as shortening the onboarding process, cost-effectiveness, improved efficiency, and consistency of experience for all new hires, especially if your organization has multiple locations.

Are They Tech Savvy?

Although HR might be extremely comfortable with the HRIS system and navigating the onboarding experience, how comfortable are new hires with it? A hurdle HR will encounter is assisting those new hires who are not technologically advanced. HR must fully understand the onboarding process from the new hire’s perspective. This comprehension will assist HR in the time spent walking the new hire through any questions that arise.

Tools That Automating Onboarding Offers

Automated onboarding can accomplish and streamline many different tasks by utilizing a number of helpful tools. Some of the most useful are benefit enrollments, document assignments, mobile apps, checklists, e-signatures, and learning management.

Tool 1: Use Automated Benefit Enrollment

This is a huge win for new hires and HR alike. When a new employee starts, they often have a 30-day window to enroll in benefits. Most HRIS systems can auto-enroll new hires in the benefit option. The information is then fed electronically from the HRIS software to the benefit provider. For example, a company can auto-enroll all new hires in the 401k plan and have a contribution amount of three percent with an annual increase of one percent.

Tool 2: Assign Documents Automatically

Assigning documents automatically is another feature usually available through the HRIS software. Assigning documents to read and sign off on electronically, Automation ensures that all new hires receive consistent messaging, are presented with all necessary documents, and tracks completion for you. You will eliminate paper and save time, and will, in turn, present a more polished professional welcome to the new hire.

Tool 3: Uses Mobile Apps

Enabling a new hire to complete all required onboarding steps from the ease of their phone means timelier completion. The app should function just like a desktop version. Any discrepancies or features that cannot be accessed from mobile apps will only cause the new hire frustration, causing a poor experience. The goal with automated onboarding is to make the experience as smooth as possible for the new hire with zero issues.

Tool 4: Checklists

Using software that presents a dashboard to the new hire gives them ownership of the process. It allows them to view their progress in their onboarding experience. They can track their progress and watch as their checklist is completed.

Tool 5: E-Signatures

An e-signature is an effective, legally binding way of signing electronic documents. Secure and verifiable, it replaces handwritten signatures.

With all the documents the new hire is responsible for signing off on, the e-signature feature is an important tool. This feature should also highlight where they need to sign. There is nothing more frustrating than the new hire not being able to complete all their paperwork because they missed one signature. This will allow you to ensure all things are signed with one simple click (without having to print the documents out).

Tool 6: Learning Management Systems

A learning management system that is integrated with your HRIS system provides a great one-stop experience for the new hire. You have the option to assign them whatever new hire training can be delivered online, track their progress, and measure their understanding. Topics that can be automated for the new employee include diversity and inclusion, mental health in the workplace, workplace ethics, and sexual harassment.

An Example of An Automated Onboarding Process

Each company’s onboarding process looks different, but here is one general example that illustrates how automated onboarding can be used from recruitment to Day 1. Steps that happen electronically are noted with an asterisk.*

  1. A verbal or written offer is accepted.
  2. * The applicant completes the application.
  3. * The applicant receives an offer letter.
  4. * The applicant signs the offer letter electronically.
  5. * The applicant signs/consents to pre-employment testing specific to the position.
  6. * The applicant signs/consents to the pre-employment background check.
  7. * HR representative electronically sends the link to complete the background check electronically.
  8. HR representative calls the applicant to review and schedule pre-employment drug testing.
  9. Once pre-employment testing and background checks are complete, the HR representative calls the applicant to discuss a start date.
  10. * HR emails the hiring manager and IT the start date.
  11. HR enters the new hires’ information into HRIS.
  12. * IT sets up access to all needed systems and prepares what devices the new hire requires.
  13. * The new hire receives a welcome email, as well as an email explaining how to log into the HRIS, complete I-9 documentation, and verify and update all personal information.
  14. * The new hire receives HR-specific training and tasks that need to be completed by Day 1. These electronic tasks include tasks like setting up direct deposit, taking an employee photo, submitting emergency contact information, and signing off on all company policies and the handbook.
  15. On Day 1, the hiring manager meets the new hire, providing them with IT equipment and keys, etc.. Facility tour, meet-and-greets, etc. commence.
  16. * The I-9 form is verified by the hiring manager and entered into the system.

Create a memorable first day in minutes

Onboarding software that helps you stay organized, maximize time, and save trees.

Questions You’ve Asked Us About Automated Onboarding

Absolutely. The biggest advantage of automated onboarding is that it allows new hires the ability to complete the onboarding process in a structured environment that is free from a manual process conducted on paper.
Look for software that offers features like mobile apps, an attractive dashboard that tracks progress for the new hire, the ability to integrate training programs, automated benefit enrollment, and the use of e-signatures.

Nicole Little is a Senior HR Business Partner with over 7 years of experience in the Human Resource field. Nicole has worked for the largest e-commerce company and the leading LTL carrier. Nicole Little’s love for human resources comes through as she advocates and builds relationships within all levels of an organization. When Nicole is not working, she is enjoying the outdoors with her husband, two son’s and their dog.

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