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How to speed up your HR onboarding process for new employees

For new hires and human resources teams alike, employee onboarding is an experience that can benefit from streamlining. Here’s how HR professionals can improve their onboarding process.

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When hiring for new team members, a smooth and efficient onboarding programme can make all the difference to the employee experience. In fact, research by BambooHR found that 89% of employees say an effective onboarding process helped them feel very engaged at work. What’s more, these employees are 30x more likely to feel overall job satisfaction, compared to employees who felt they had an ineffective onboarding experience.

But, unfortunately, not everyone has a great onboarding experience. A survey by Paychex found that employees of small companies (66%) and remote workers (63%) feel undertrained after onboarding. Additionally, almost one-third of employees find the onboarding process confusing.

Traditional, paper-based onboarding creates a pretty heavy workload for HR professionals – and it’s not very efficient for remote employees. To speed up the process and improve the experience for all involved, new and intelligent automation tools should be introduced into your workflow.

In this article, we’ll explore the different steps involved in onboarding a new hire, common obstacles HR professionals face during this process and how time-saving tools can improve onboarding for you and your new employees.

What is the employee onboarding process in HR?

Onboarding is the process of introducing a newly hired employee to your business. It helps new employees understand their new place of work, their role and what is expected of them in their new position.

It’s a key process that helps to integrate new hires into your organisation and get them up to speed on the people and company culture.

Why is employee onboarding important?

According to research by Brandon Hall Group, companies that have a strong onboarding process improve their retention of new hires by 82% and productivity by over 70%.

A good onboarding process can help to set good expectations for the new hire’s experience at your company and ensure they feel welcome. The process should help them settle in faster, establish relationships with their new colleagues and ultimately hit the ground running in their new role.

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What is the process for onboarding new hires?

The new employee onboarding process differs from organisation to organisation. However, it typically involves the following five steps:

1. The recruitment stage – pre-boarding

The hiring process is often regarded as separate from onboarding, but they are closely connected. In some ways, onboarding starts at the very beginning of the recruitment process, with setting good impressions in clear job descriptions and interviews.

The period between the sending of an offer letter and the new hire’s first day is known as “pre-boarding”. During this stage, you’ll be answering any questions the new hire has before they start, keeping in touch and making sure they have everything they need for their first day.

2. The week before joining

As the new hire’s start date approaches, it’s time to send them the relevant paperwork, company policies and forms, as well as organising their equipment and access.

At this stage you will:

  • Send relevant documents and materials, such as contracts to sign and employee handbooks
  • Send equipment such as a laptop and finalise resources such as a work email account and network access
  • Confirm their personal information to be added to your internal systems
  • Schedule introductory meetings and your first-day induction call
  • Send a welcome email with important information, such as how to get to the office if they are working on-site
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3. The first day

No matter your level of experience, day one at a new job can be overwhelming – especially because there’s so much information to take in at once.

However, new joiners are more likely to remember how they felt on that first day rather than what they learned. Especially for remote workers, one virtual meeting after another on your first day can cause serious Zoom fatigue – not a great first impression! It’s your job to make sure their first day is an enjoyable experience for them and to put their minds at ease.

The role of HR here is to welcome the new starter either virtually or in person at an induction meeting, and to make sure they have everything they need. You can then introduce them to their immediate team, direct them to any training that needs to be completed and help them with any practicalities such as submitting a profile picture for their communications apps like Slack.

4. The first week

HR involvement after the first day will be more subtle. You’ll likely be liaising with the new starter’s manager to ensure they have a reasonable schedule during their first week and can access the relevant tools or software needed for their role. You might want to schedule meetings with other teams in your company so they can fully understand how each department functions within the organisation.

You might also help the new hire schedule regular check-ins or 1:1s with their line manager, and just generally touch base to make sure they’re settling in well.

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5. The first 3–6 months

HR’s objective during this period, along with the new hire’s line manager or supervisor, is to ensure the employee’s expectations and reality at your company are aligned.

With their line manager, you can discuss the employee’s progress, any areas they feel they need additional training for, issues, career ambitions or goals, and how the onboarding experience was for them. You can then work with their line manager to provide feedback and agree to what can be done by each party to ensure the new hire becomes a key member of the organisational family.

Common difficulties with the onboarding process

Some common difficulties HR teams face with onboarding include:

  • A lack of pre-boarding, causing new hires to feel unprepared and overwhelmed on their first day
  • Neglecting feedback, making employees feel unheard and unvalued
  • Low-quality or inaccurate information for new employees, leading to confusion or frustration
  • Misleading job descriptions and unclear expectations, leaving new employees feeling lost or unsure of their role in the company
  • Failing to demonstrate the relevant software, hindering the new hire’s ability to perform their job effectively
  • Giving too much information too quickly, inundating the new hire with document overload
  • A lack of introductions and team building activities, making new employees feel isolated and disconnected from their colleagues

All of these factors can contribute to a negative onboarding experience and, ultimately, result in a disengaged and unmotivated employee.

It is crucial for companies to invest time and resources into creating a comprehensive and effective onboarding process to set their new employees up for success. By doing so, they can ensure a smooth transition into their new role and foster a positive and productive work environment.

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How to speed up the onboarding process

We’ve explored the onboarding process and discussed the different people and materials involved throughout. But when this often takes longer than it should do, what can you do to streamline it?

Dropbox offers a suite of tools to help HR professionals speed up onboarding new hires. These allow you to:

  • Customise documents and templates with logos, fonts and colours for consistent branding across your onboarding materials
  • Manage important documents by tracking views, forwards and downloads with DocSend
  • Improve turnaround time and automate workflows with information tracking and built-in reminders using Dropbox Sign
  • Stay updated on internal progress with file activity tracking and comment notifications
  • Build a trustworthy reputation among employees and candidates by protecting sensitive information at all times

When used as part of your HR workflow, these features save you significant amounts of time so you can focus on nurturing your relationship with your new colleagues.

Make onboarding new hires a breeze

Dropbox provides HR professionals with a comprehensive set of tools and resources to streamline the onboarding process for new hires.

With features such as automated workflows, customisable templates and secure file sharing capabilities, HR professionals can easily collaborate with hiring managers and ensure a smooth transition for new hires.

By utilising Dropbox’s onboarding tools, HR professionals can save time, reduce administrative burden and provide a positive experience for new hires as they integrate into the organisation.

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