The benefits of an organized employee onboarding process are no secret. Consider the statistics:

  1. Organizations with standardized onboarding processes see, on average, 54 percent greater levels of productivity among new hires.
  2. Onboarding programs can increase retention rates by 25 percent.

It’s not ignorance of the obvious benefits of onboarding that hold organizations back from implementing programs that work — it’s the time, money, and manpower required to run those programs.

That’s where onboarding software comes in.

What Is Onboarding Software?

Onboarding software is technology that helps employers facilitate smooth transitions for new hires. Onboarding software often features a digital dashboard that new hires and talent acquisition teams can use to communicate, track progress, and assign/complete key tasks like I-9 verification, compliance checks, and payroll and benefits administration.

Implementing onboarding software helps managers and leaders address the needs and concerns of new hires without placing too much administrative burden on HR. Onboarding software can also standardize the process, which means all new hires can be introduced to the company in a consistent way. Finally, software also assists with compliance by ensuring you don’t lose or misfile important new hire documents.

Do You Need Onboarding Software?

There is a tech tool available for just about every process your department has in place. The sheer number of options can leave you wondering which, if any, are right for you.

In general, companies should adopt onboarding software if:

  1. Bringing a new hire onboard causes the HR team to spend most of their time sending, tracking, checking, and filing paperwork instead of welcoming and working with the new employee.
  2. Your company operates in a compliance-heavy industry.
  3. You’re experiencing onboarding hiccups (for example, forgetting to send a background check or missing I-9 deadlines).
  4. You have high turnover among new employees.
  5. Your organization is experiencing exponential growth and making a high volume of hires in a short time.

This list isn’t exhaustive, but the items contained therein are all indicators that a company could greatly benefit from onboarding software.

Why Adopt Onboarding Software?

Creating and maintaining an onboarding program that satisfies a new hire’s need for training while keeping productivity levels high is a challenge many organizations struggle with.

A new hire’s first few weeks on the job are critical for their success in the long term. In fact, a third of employees in one survey stated they knew whether they would stay with or leave a company after their first week on the job.

Employee onboarding should equip new hires with everything they need to be successful and satisfied within the company, which includes everything from clear employment expectations to an understanding of unspoken internal norms. Adopting onboarding software reduces the risk of missing out on any of these crucial steps in the process because it standardizes the program for each new hire while allowing enough room to customize the experience for specific roles and employment levels. What works for an executive hire will differ drastically from what works for an intern, but both hires will likely need to fill out paperwork and get acquainted with the company’s mission, values, and culture.

Onboarding Software Features and Functions

If you’re shopping around for a new employee onboarding solution, you may want to keep an eye out for software that offers the following features:

  1. Managing New Hire Paperwork: When bringing on a new hire, it can feel like the paperwork never ends. Some software solutions allow employers to house all important new hire documents in one place. Best-in-class solutions often allow for the transferring of employee info from form to form, reducing time spent keying in redundant information and mitigating the risk of errors.
  2. Employment Compliance: Compliance is complicated, but onboarding software can help ensure your organization is following the most current standards while providing thorough explanation and guidance to employees throughout the process.
  3. Background Checks: Background checks are important for keeping your organization and your new hire safe, so it is essential they are handled appropriately. With some onboarding software, background checks can be sent with one click, and your team will receive automatic updates once the new hire has authorized the check and when the results are in. No more chasing down authorizations or getting stuck in internal bottlenecks.
  4. Automated Workflows: Onboarding software can support automated workflows for important steps in the onboarding process, including deadlines and reminders, plus specific directions for each step. Once a task is completed, the individual responsible will be notified and given instructions on the next step. This way, your talent acquisition team can set up workflows and step back as the software guides the new hire and relevant stakeholders through each appropriate step of the process.
  5. Access to Employee Information: This includes everything from benefits enrollment to employee handbooks. Because onboarding software should be a tool for both the employee and employer, both parties should have access to critical employment information through it.
  6. Progress Reporting: Do you know where your new hire is in the onboarding process? With onboarding software, each step the new hire takes is clearly displayed and easily followed by leadership. This functionality can also help audit the performance of the onboarding team, helping to improve the onboarding process as a whole.

Onboarding Software Sustainability

One very attractive feature of onboarding software is that it’s green. Going digital cuts down on paper costs and, more importantly, paper waste. Let’s break it down:

- The average US office worker uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year. All told, that adds up to 4 million tons of paper.
- US companies spend $120 million on printed documents annually.
- 70 percent of office waste is made up of paper, and 45 percent of printed paper ends up in the trash by the end of the day.

Businesses around the globe are spending too much money on paper, most of which goes to waste. With onboarding software, all your important hiring documents can be housed in a secure digital space — meaning less printing, less paper, less money, and less waste.

Plus, incorporating eco-friendly practices into your onboarding process is a great bit of corporate social responsibility you can use to bolster your employer brand.

Checklist: How to Tell If Onboarding Software Is Right for You

The key takeaway here is that onboarding software saves you time, money, and other resources. Imagine no longer wasting paper or having to hire additional personnel simply to manage new hire paperwork!

Follow this checklist to see if onboarding software is the missing link your company needs to streamline your onboarding process:

  1. Do I prefer my employees to complete onboarding tasks electronically?
  2. Do I have a lot of onboarding paperwork to organize?
  3. Do I need help managing I-9, W-4, and state tax documents? Do I need a more secure way to store them?
  4. Do I need to touch base with my new hires frequently?
  5. Do I have issues managing onboarding scheduling?
  6. Do my candidates/employees use smartphones?
  7. Would my candidates/employees respond positively to a mobile-friendly platform?
  8. Do I spend excessive time inserting candidate information into company logs and databases?
  9. Do I need assistance conducting background checks and double-checking verifications?
  10. Am I looking to automate task assignments, reminders, and deadlines?
  11. Do I need to simplify the employee benefits enrollment process?
  12. Do I go through a lot of paper in the onboarding process?
  13. Are real-time reports on how my new hires are performing something I need?
  14. Do I need an employee portal where new hires can be introduced to the team quickly and efficiently?

A version of this article originally appeared on the ClearCompany blog.

Sara Pollock is head of the marketing department at ClearCompany.

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