The Importance of a Seamless Onboarding Experience

May 2024
Mins read

First impressions count. From the moment that a brand new employee signs on the dotted line, through to their first week of work, is when your organization has the most power to impress (or disappoint!) a new hire.

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Does this new hire onboarding situation ring any bells?

I recently started working for a financial services firm because I was offered what seemed like a better position and a larger salary. The onboarding process, however, has made me question whether or not it was a good idea to switch jobs.

What is poor onboarding?

The importance of an effective onboarding experience is highlighted by recent research from Paychex, which confirms its wide-spread challenge.

Over a thousand recent hires provided feedback to Paychex in a survey conducted in the past year. Employee turnover is common when new hires are unhappy with their onboarding experience. Half of all newly hired employees were already thinking about leaving within the first year, and that number soars to 80% among those who feel their onboarding was inadequate.

Onboarding is a problem that businesses cannot afford to ignore.

Most new hires naturally have some feelings of anxiety and stress when they begin their orientation process at a new job. On Reddit, people often claim they were kept in the dark about what was going to happen next or couldn’t get access to systems, apps, and documents that were essential to even getting started on their first few days. 

In sharp contrast, others report that they feel information overload. A classic example of this is that they get training on a skill that they won't even use until day 45. It's pointless; we have limited memory. It’s much better to train someone in the skill right before they need to use it or give them access to it so they can do it in their own time. As a result, it's no surprise that many new hires report feeling unsupported during their first months on the job.

3 Examples of Poor Remote Onboarding Experiences

My first day wasn't that great. I didn’t get any access to the software and apps that I needed. So, I was just left with nothing much to do on my first day, which felt bad. I got a call from HR in the afternoon, asking how it was all going. Talk about awkward. I was really hoping to jump in to get a real feel for the projects and get up to speed by reading threads in the support chat. The whole process just felt disorganized. I admit, I asked myself if this was going to be the right place for me.
In my first week, I was trained on so many systems and procedures that I was expected to remember. I felt overwhelmed. I remember thinking, ‘I hope I remember all this’. Following this training, I transitioned to remote working. But with all the weight of the information I had just learned and the lack of guidance, I found it really hard to find my bearings. 
It was kinda bad. On my first day, I found myself with limited access to the apps I needed, so the whole process felt pretty disjointed. I had virtually no guidance or updated documentation. I really found it hard to grasp the code base and ops I was meant to handle. I work remotely, so all this just complicated matters. Even though we jumped on a call, I felt disconnected and not sure of who I should approach for help. To add to my confusion, I got assigned tasks with little context, which left me confused and wondering how I was going to get ahead in this company.

Statistics On Poor Onboarding

If you don’t think the examples above are enough, then check out these worrying statistics about employee onboarding.
Negative Feelings Experienced During Onboarding
  • 50% of newly hired employees surveyed plan to quit soon.
  • 80% of employees who felt undertrained during onboarding plan to quit soon.
  • 58% of Gen Z employees, despite feeling the most satisfied with their onboarding, are likely to plan to leave their job soon.
  • 60% of workers who had problems during onboarding experienced them on the first day.
  • 37% weren’t given full training, just “bits and pieces.”

Thinking Holistically About Onboarding

All businesses want to get off to a good start by imprinting a welcoming, inclusive, fun, interesting, diverse, forward-thinking, and organized image of their workplace on their new employees. You’ve marketed the role (and sold it!). Now it’s time to give them an onboarding experience that they’re excited to be a part of.

The consequences of a poor onboarding experience speak for themselves in the stats above, so let’s examine how we can drive employee engagement from (even before) day one.

What is Seamless Employee Onboarding?

The term "seamless onboarding experience" refers to a process that is well-timed and coordinated to ensure that new employees are gradually acquainted with administrative procedures, company-specific tools, role-specific information, organizational culture, and career advancement pathways.

The onboarding experience should be a slick set of well-managed, repeatable, time-sensitive, and interesting activities.

Let’s Review What Should be Included in Employee Onboarding

  • Highlighting your workplace at its best
  • Completing onboarding in a logical, step-by-step manner
  • Giving adequate details of who to meet and where for (at least) the first day; a schedule they’ll be following
  • Ensuring your new employees’ technology and workspace are set up and ready to go, including all physical and digital tools they will need
  • Ensuring new user accounts for the employee have already been created is all that’s necessary to get up and running securely
  • Providing an overview of the workplace ecosystem and values, both theoretically and physically
  • Accurately describing all manner of workplace functions
  • Introducing the employee to staff (their immediate team and beyond) and making them feel welcome
  • Providing background training about the role in an interesting way that is tailored to the audience
  • Providing essential training packages such as workplace health and safety and appropriate workplace behavior
  • Digital access to resources provided in the onboarding process, as well as the organizational chart and team directory, HR resources, etc. Make sure they can access it as they need to. Often, people might want to go over information at their own pace.
  • Introduction to their first job, project or task and resources (if applicable)
  • Ensuring all technology used throughout the onboarding processes works without hiccups

In short, there’s a lot to get right across the onboarding process. To add to the complexity, not every employee will go through the same onboarding activities; they may need to be tailored to department, role, or site.

How to set up an Employee Onboarding Experience?

Using employee tools to automate and streamline the onboarding process is a great way to impress your new hires and boost productivity. Modern HR departments use a wide variety of software, from cloud-based storage and task management systems to intranet platforms, mobile apps for employees, and, of course, HRIS. The best onboarding employee management tools like CentricMinds make it easier to communicate and collaborate, welcome and engage new team members, and track their progress.

CentricMinds makes onboarding easy

To establish a streamlined onboarding process for employees, you'll need to follow a structured approach that caters to the specific needs of your business. Here's how you can get started:

Step 1: Mapping the Pre-Onboarding and First Week 

The first place to start is planning your pre-onboarding and initial onboarding days. Concentrate on your key administration and compliance tasks first. These time-sensitive responsibilities must adhere to specific timeframes, so having a transparent and well-defined process is critical. Gather all the relevant content that you need, such as letters of offer, NDA’s, links to federal or state tax withholding forms, pre-employment medical assessments, contracts, payroll information, safety guidelines, requests for proof of certificates or licenses and health and safety information. Naturally, each organization's pre-onboarding process will look different depending on the nature of its business, the locations, and the local and national regulations that have to be followed. 

Step 2: Adapting Your Onboarding for Individual Needs

Recognize that every business and role is unique, and the onboarding process must reflect this individuality. Create a flexible plan that covers pre-boarding activities and even extends to the first month or three months, depending on the complexity of the job. 

Separate your onboarding into distinct strands, such as:

  • Pre Onboarding  - This strand involves taking care of all the HR paperwork and ensuring legal compliance. These are the two main focuses of the pre-onboarding phase. The tasks include letter of offer all the way through to the tax withholding information.

  • Company-specific processes and tools - This strand basically introduces new employees to company wide tools, policies, and procedures used within the organization.

  • Role-specific information - This strand of onboarding gives new hires information specific to their role and introduces them to the teams they'll be working with, it will provide them with details about the jobs, projects, or tasks they’ll be working on. It also identifies any necessary upskilling and further training they may need.

  • Culture integration - This particular strand helps your new hires get a common understanding of how they will work together with others and how best to communicate and collaborate as a team. This part of the onboarding introduces them to the company's values, mission and goals so that they can quickly adapt and start making meaningful contributions.

  • Career and performance - Job satisfaction and productivity come from new employees' being able to visualize themselves progressing in their careers within a company. New hires will be curious about it, even if they don't say it outright to you.

You can help set the right tone from the beginning by informing them about things like your performance evaluation process, the career paths on offer, the various training opportunities available to them, and the degree of flexibility built into their role. 

Step 3: Delegate Responsibilities to Streamline New Staff Onboarding

The experience of a new hire's first few days on the job can be enhanced with the help of their current team members. Encourage their managers to take on some of the onboarding load themselves. Routine tasks that involve requests like giving new employees access to apps and tools, requesting uniforms or security passes, etc. can be automated with the help of employee onboarding task management software. To accomplish this, the software forward’s your request to the appropriate individual or system and sends updates and alerts so that you can monitor the status of your request.  

Step 4: Automate Routine Tasks with Employee Management Tools

Only with an employee experience platform can you fully automate and streamline the onboarding experience. The whole process is simplified, communication is enhanced, and all new hires receive the same comprehensive orientation. Here's a list of the various time-sensitive activities that can be set up to run automatically:

  • Technology Requests: Forward requests to IT for necessary tech and tools.
  • Access and Security Passes: Automate the process of issuing access and security passes.
  • Training Materials: Ensure new hires automatically receive the right training materials.
  • Role-Specific Documents: Provide role-specific documents and resources to new hires automatically.
  • Feedback Collection: Set up automatic reminders to collect feedback from new hires on their onboarding experience.

Step 5: How to Handle the 5 Hidden Aspects of Onboarding

Some elements of onboarding aren’t always obvious but are crucial for a smooth transition. Understanding these hidden aspects can make a significant difference:

  1. Pace and Tone: Explain the expected pace of work and the tone of communication within the company. Some environments are fast-paced and direct, while others may be more laid-back. Helping new hires understand this will enable them to adjust their approach and integrate more smoothly.
  2. Effective Communication: Understand how to get the best response from new hires by recognizing their communication preferences. Some might respond better to direct communication, while others might appreciate a more casual approach.
  3. Cultural Quirks: Every company has its unique symbols and cultural quirks—whether it's specific jargon, traditions, or rituals. Share these with new hires to help them integrate better and feel part of the team.
  4. Team Dynamics: Explain the dynamics of different teams and how to interact with them for the best results. This includes understanding the personalities and power structures within teams.
  5. Influencers: Identify key influencers within the company who can help new hires navigate the culture and get things done. These might not always be managers but can be long-standing employees who know the ins and outs of the organization.

By paying attention to these hidden elements and incorporating them into your onboarding process, you’ll create an environment where new hires can thrive and feel welcomed from day one. Ready to make onboarding a breeze? Let CentricMinds and its employee experience platform help you get started with a personalized demo today!

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Advantages of Using Employee Management Software for Onboarding

As we mentioned above, most organizations want to automate their onboarding because, well, who doesn’t want to automate?

Organized Steps

With automated onboarding through an employee experience platform, you can keep everything organized and ensure tasks are completed accurately and on time. This modernizes the process and helps new hires feel confident and supported right from the start.

Quick Communication

Clear communication between HR, managers, and new hires is key. An employee experience platform makes this easier, creating transparent lines of communication and a more effective, collaborative onboarding experience.

One Point of Entry for All Data

Imagine having one place for all your onboarding needs. Onboarding task templates provide a logical and easy way to access company policies, training materials, and other important resources. No more searching around for files—everything’s right where you need it on your employee experience platform.

Automate Your Onboarding Workflows

Why waste time on repetitive tasks when you can automate them? An employee experience platform with automated workflows saves you time and ensures every new hire gets a consistent, positive experience.

Customizable Templates Integrate with Your HRIS

Want to tailor the onboarding experience to specific teams or departments? Customizable templates on your employee experience platform are the way to go. Integrating these templates with your HRIS means data flows smoothly between systems, making the process even more streamlined.

Automating Time-Specific Onboarding Checklists

With CentricMinds, you can automate time-sensitive onboarding checklists using digital forms and workflows on your employee experience platform. This means every new hire completes necessary tasks efficiently, without any hassle.

CentricMinds Onboarding Tasks- use templates to assign onboarding tasks

CentricMinds Onboarding Tasks

Using templates to assign onboarding tasks makes the process so much easier. Some of the essential checklist items might include:

  • Technology requests from IT and the team/department
  • Physical infrastructure requests from the site manager
  • Detailed role information from the team
  • The first project package from the team (if applicable)
  • Completed pre-arrival forms from the new hire
  • Systems enrollment from IT, accounting, etc.
  • An onboarding plan with role-specific schedule templates

Key Practices to Improve Onboarding

If your resources are limited, just focus on these five critical practices. They’ll significantly enhance your onboarding process, based on insights from a comprehensive study by Paychex:

Get The Team Involved

Don’t just involve one team member in onboarding—include multiple people. This makes new hires feel accepted and part of the broader team right away. Plus, it helps them understand how things work in their new job more quickly.

Give Your New Employees An Epic Welcome

Kick things off with an epic "Welcome to the Team" post. Check the engagement level—who’s liking it, who’s commenting? With the CentricMinds employee experience platform, you can do this in seconds. It sets a positive tone for the first day and shows new hires that the company cares about their success.

Introduce new team members in a dedicated workplace chat channel. You can track how well people are making new hires feel at home with CentricMinds employee app statistics. Making a good first impression doesn’t have to be expensive—try out some of these fun onboarding ideas.

Give Them a Simple and Organized Process

An onboarding process with task management software or a thorough checklist benefits everyone. Checking off items and seeing the percentage complete helps new hires feel they’re making progress and staying on track.

Setup Early Expectations and Support for New Team Members

Give new hires a glimpse of expected standards and key results early on. This helps them align their efforts accordingly. Sharing an overview of the performance review process also reduces potential surprises down the track.

Role Insights and Growth Opportunities

Everyone likes to know about career advancement opportunities, even if it’s just training or learning new software. Sharing what’s available gives new hires a sense of agency about their role.

Buddy/Mentor Pairing

Pairing new hires with buddies or mentors through work chat channels on your employee experience platform is simple and effective. It helps newcomers settle in quickly and builds a supportive culture, boosting retention and teamwork.

Refine Your Onboarding Experience

The best employee onboarding software helps new staff quickly become productive team members. It reduces disruptions and stress, automating repetitive steps. Customizable task onboarding templates make tailoring the process to your needs a breeze. Implement a feedback loop by polling new hires and internal collaborators on their experiences using the CentricMinds employee experience platform.

Is it Time to Automate Your Onboarding?

See CentricMinds in action with a personalized demo. Discover how our user-friendly tasks and employee experience platform can revolutionize your onboarding process. CentricMinds makes welcoming new team members easy—request your demo today.