Why onboarding is one of the most critical business processes an organisation must manage

Oct 28, 2019
  • people

by Emma Morris 

All organisations have an onboarding process. Most will be a one-size-fits-all approach that typically starts on a new hire’s first day and phases out when the new hire physically begins their role regardless of seniority or role type. Driven by processes and tick box exercises, onboarding programs often lack strategy. According to research, a staggering 80% of new employees decide whether or not they want to stay with a company within the first six months of being hired. Therefore arguably onboarding is the most critical business process that an organisation must manage.

We cannot ignore the digital realities of today: changes in work patterns and an increasingly expectant millennial workforce are just two of the realities which are driving businesses to develop new talent management strategies to stay afloat in the competitive talent landscape.

It is no longer a surprise that the interests, activities and decisions made by future generations will be tracked via technology in a way never seen before in our lifetime. They will spend their entire lives interacting with technology, being influenced and guided continuously, both subconsciously and through willing acceptance, therefore developing and shaping it for peers and future generations. Owing to technological advances, changes in demographics and new societal trends, the concept of being ‘prepared’ has been redefined in our personal lives. We rely on apps and technologies to help us be one step ahead and ‘learn’ our experiences over time in order to improve our ability to perform our daily tasks quickly and effectively. When the majority of us spend so much time at work, it is strange that this concept of preparedness hasn’t quite permeated our work lives in the same way.

There are many examples of when you research and ’prepare’ for something in your personal life:

  • Going on Holiday? Not before going on Trip Advisor to read reviews and take a virtual tour of the hotel
  • Going out for dinner? You’ve surely got to check the menu online beforehand, or to see if there are online vouchers which can be applied to the bill
  • Planning on going to a concert? Make sure you check the venue seat map before committing to your purchase to ensure you have the best view.
  • Flying somewhere? Check out Seat Guru to make sure you’ve got the best seat as reviewed by your peers.
  • Off to university? Be sure to join your dorm room’s Facebook group to get to know everyone you’ll be living with before you even set foot on campus!

It’s fascinating how prepared we can choose to be. But where does this desire come from? Why the desire to be prepared? I believe a lot of it originates from anxiety and its prevalence in today’s society due to how hectic and pressurised our lives have become. In a world of social media and digitisation, ironically, we are becoming less connected with people and the unexpected– and hence the need to be more informed via the internet. The thought of going to a restaurant without knowing the menu beforehand is truly stressful for some! On the other hand, now we literally pay for the privilege of being plunged into a space unprepared: the popularity of Escape Rooms indicates how there is an appeal for the unknown.

So what about the workplace? Businesses have the ability to use technology to prepare us –  the employees – for a wealth of scenarios that we’ve barely begun to scratch the surface of. But there is a particular scenario where we often don’t have access to all the information we desire: when we are successful in a job application. The information we receive during the recruitment process is entirely controlled by the organisation. We cannot personally discover the typical onboarding process for this organisation, and hence we are likely to be more anxious about being underprepared for our daunting first day at our new job.

The job application process is the easy part – companies can tailor the information they want to share about their organisation via digital channels such as their website, recruitment websites and social media. There are sites such as Glassdoor and Indeed which allows former employees of companies to write reviews about their personal work experiences. But in regards to the specific information you need about the new role, environment, culture and team that you are about to be a part of –  that is a harder nut to crack.

So a new hire has been nicely guided through a recruitment process. What next? Walking into reception on day one? This is no longer good enough, let alone for the tech-savvy millennial generation who will comprise over a third of the global workforce by 2020 according to research from ManpowerGroup.

HR technology can optimise the talent management process by allowing you to integrate a new hire effectively into an organisation. It provides instant access to tools and information that the new hire requires to become a productive member of the team. Successful onboarding programs are those which not only transition new employees into the business efficiently, but also create a strong platform for the employee to learn, grow and develop from within the company. Employees want to feel positive and engaged when they join a new company, and employers want to reduce staff turnover, avoid attrition and low productivity, especially when the average cost, according to ACAS (2019) of replacing  a single member of staff can exceed £30,000.

HR technology that we work with, such as SAP SuccessFactors Onboarding, utilises a process that is easy, automated, and personal. SAP SuccessFactors Onboarding has been proven to improve first-year retention and reduce ramp time by focusing on three key areas:

  • Guiding HR, the hiring manager, and the new hire through the steps of the onboarding process to create a collaborative, consistent process every time
  • Connecting new hires with the right people and relevant content immediately, creating early engagement, vital socialisation and ultimately improving retention
  • Developing new hires quickly by seamlessly connecting onboarding to the other talent processes - such as recruiting, goal setting, and learning - and turning new hires into productive employees in record time.

The onus is on the hiring manager to ensure that their new joiner feels confident, engaged and prepared for their first day at work. In fact, Manager Dashboards ensure they are kept accountable for that person’s preparedness.

Why onboarding is one of the most critical business processes an organisation must manage
A SAP SuccessFactors Onboarding Manager Dashboard

HR admins can use onboarding portals to engage with new hires, to ensure they have all the correct information for them. This can range from shoe size for Personal Protective Equipment, to photo collection for security badges to be prepared for day one. And then there is the learning element of onboarding. Imagine opening up your compliance training that all staff members need to do – whilst the new hire is preparing to join the organisation. You’ve made your new hire feel part of a community already, hence they are more likely to complete training in what is effectively their own time. They want to make a good impression, and even by doing that one-hour health and safety briefing before day one, organisations will end up with new hires that are ready to hit the ground running, ultimately saving them thousands in revenue.

A strong, integrated onboarding strategy is vital for businesses to stay relevant and competitive in today’s fierce talent market. By leveraging the power of HR technology to create a positive, dynamic onboarding experience, validate the reasons why new hires have joined your company, and empower them to stay.

SAP SuccessFactors Onboarding 2.0

Excitingly, SAP SuccessFactors has announced the launch of Onboarding 2.0, due to be released in the next few months. Onboarding 2.0 will simplify the complexities of the existing onboarding process. For example, there is a new tool called “Recruit-to-Hire” that replaces the several configuration tools that are currently used. Also, with the Fiori-based design, users will experience more consistency between modules. Integration with vendors will have more flexibility due to the use of common data structures along with reduced duplicate functionalities.

Download our onboarding eBook for a high level, in-depth look at onboarding in the digital age, how it can elevate the employee experience and how technology can help to create a streamlined, connected journey from recruitment to productivity.

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