Traditional onboarding can be a bit depressing. Employees come in for their first day excited to make a difference and, in most cases, they sit in a windowless room signing form after form. Then, new employees are awkwardly introduced to the team, shown to their desk, and thrown in at the deep end — with the caveat that they’re free to ask questions about anything and everything.
This is the way it’s always been done. Why change what works, right?
One reason to switch from a one-day orientation-focused process to a longer, more involved onboarding process is that it’s more effective. November 2014 research by Aberdeen Group found that the shorter the onboarding process, the less likely a company is to retain first-year employees. In fact, organizations with programs that last less than a month were nine percent less likely to retain their employees compared to those with programs that last a month or more.
The key is developing an onboarding program that engages employees, encourages them to search for more information, and helps them grow the skills they’ll need to succeed. But how can companies juggle this need for a more high-touch onboarding programs without making the employee feel bored and disengaged?
By taking onboarding digital.
Here are three ways digital onboarding can benefit your company and get your new employees engaged from the time they receive their offer letter until they’ve reached 100 percent productivity:
1. Digital makes for less work
Plain and simple, digital onboarding is less work. With the right platform, companies can avoid lots of paperwork that kills a new employee’s spirit on their first day. Instead, those that go digital can distribute electronic forms that take less time and effort for both parties to prepare.
Even better, you can give new employees access to a “new employee portal” where documents can be filled out, electronically signed, and turned in before they even step foot in the office. When put into practice, this process — called pre-boarding — makes companies 1.6 times more likely to have a lower cost per hire, according to Aberdeen’s research.
Digital onboarding platforms allow companies to save money on expensive paper HR packets and integrate with all of your company’s HR platforms (payroll, ERP, HRIS, etc.) to make life easier for your staff. More importantly, they make Day 1 easier — and more exciting — for your new employees.
2. It becomes more personal
It’s rare that you see the phrases “go digital” and “more personal” in the same sentence, but digital onboarding frees up more time in the process for the kind of face-to-face contact that helps new employees get up to speed faster.
On a new employee’s first day, digital onboarding helps reduce the time spent on paperwork, freeing up time for more personal discussions about organization’s culture, work-related responsibilities, workflow, and team dynamics.
On the following days, digital onboarding allows both new employees and their managers to track training progress, communicate openly about expectations, develop productivity goals and, in doing so, reduces the all important time-to-productivity metric.
3. It makes onboarding more engaging
Would you rather sit and stare as your new company’s HR pro goes through the company values and mission statements? Or would you rather watch an interactive, media-rich presentation that highlights that culture through live video, examples, and testimonials from the people you’ll be working with?
The first option sounds… typical. The latter is just one example of how organizations can take advantage of today’s technology to create a more engaging digital onboarding strategy.
Onboarding can be fun and engaging while still being informative. By integrating things like video, games, interactive content maps, and a real-time task/goals list into your digital onboarding strategy, you can get new employees excited about developing their skills and making an impact at your company.
The more you do to make your process more new employee-friendly and interactive, the more engaging it will become. And the more engaging your process is, the more likely you are to nurture employees who are highly motivated, satisfied, and committed to your company.
Written by Andre Lavoie.
Originally posted on talentculture.com
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not of The HR Gazette or its team members.