What Is Onboarding Automation? (+Benefits, Tips)

What Is Onboarding Automation? (+Benefits, Tips)

In today’s fast-paced business environment, onboarding new employees efficiently and effectively plays a vital role in an employee’s long-term success within the new organization. However, the problem with traditional manual onboarding is that the HR teams are so overwhelmed by repetitive tasks that there’s no time left to create a positive onboarding experience for the new hires. 

Onboarding automation has emerged as a valuable solution to streamline and enhance the onboarding process for both employee and employers. By leveraging technology and digital tools, HR automation enables organizations to automate and optimize various aspects of employee onboarding, from paperwork and documentation to training and orientation. 

This article explores the benefits and best practices of onboarding automation, highlighting how it helps increase HR productivity, improve employee experience, and ensure a smooth transition for new hires.

What Is Onboarding Automation?

Onboarding automation refers to the use of technology and digital tools to automate and streamline the employee onboarding process. It involves implementing various software systems, platforms, and workflows to automate tasks, reduce manual efforts, and enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of onboarding new hires. 

Onboarding automation typically includes automating tasks such as onboarding document completion and management, new hire training, employee orientation scheduling, communication workflows, and integration with HR systems. Onboarding automation enables organizations to create a more streamlined and consistent onboarding experience, reducing administrative burden, improving accuracy, and freeing up time for HR teams to focus on strategic activities and fostering a positive onboarding experience for new employees.

Manual Onboarding vs Automated Onboarding

Manual onboarding requires a lot of manual data entry and paperwork. Furthermore, the HR teams are constantly struggling to control the workflows, eliminate human error, and establish personal connections with new hires.

Automated onboarding replaces outdated manual processes and helps improve onboarding efficiency. It takes over monotonous tasks that don’t require creative work and gives HR teams more freedom to interact with new hires. 

Onboarding automation also allows for better personalization than manual onboarding by creating a consistent new hire experience where every step is tailored to specific roles and needs. Unfortunately, the degree of personalization in manual onboarding usually depends on an HR rep’s availability. 

Here are the key differences between manual and automated onboarding processes:

AspectManual OnboardingAutomated Onboarding
Process EfficiencyTime-consuming manual tasks, paperwork, and physical documentationStreamlined and automated processes, reducing administrative burden
Data AccuracyProne to human error and inconsistenciesImproved accuracy through automated data capture and validation
Employee ExperiencePotential for delays, confusion, and slower integrationSwift, seamless, and standardized onboarding experience
Compliance and SecurityManual tracking and potential for compliance gapsEnhanced compliance adherence, document management, and security
ScalabilityLimited scalability due to resource constraintsEasily scalable to accommodate high volumes of new hires
Task ManagementManual coordination and tracking of tasks and deadlinesAutomated task assignment, tracking, and reminders
CommunicationReliance on in-person or manual communication methodsDigital communication tools for consistent and timely messaging
Analytics and ReportingLimited insights and reporting capabilitiesData-driven insights, analytics, and reporting for continuous improvement


Benefits Of Automating Employee Onboarding Process

Doesn’t automated onboarding kill personalization? Quite the opposite. It saves HR reps and people managers plenty of time that they would have otherwise spent on monotonous, repetitive tasks, allowing them to address the pain points and challenges of every individual. Other benefits of the automated onboarding process include:

1. Greater control over the process

Automation leads to process standardization. While manual tasks can be completed in different ways, which often leads to decreased productivity and varying quality, process automation allows you to deliver consistent results every time.

2. Increased HR productivity

Automation of routine administrative tasks reduces the workload for HR reps and people managers, giving them more time to handle higher-value activities such as talent management and employee engagement.  

3. Faster onboarding

Contrary to manual onboarding, where new hire training depends on the availability of their managers, automated onboarding gives employees instant access to the information and resources they need to get up to speed quickly. 

Automated onboarding helps you quickly identify areas where new employees may need additional support or training and proactively address those issues. This further accelerates the onboarding process by ensuring that new employees have the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in their roles from the very beginning.

4. Better employee experience

Fifty percent of HR leaders expect to achieve higher employee engagement by automating the onboarding process and for good reason.

Automated onboarding is more personalized and engaging than manual onboarding. It eliminates micromanagement, excessive supervision, and data access issues, allowing new hires to take control of their own learning and development and get the maximum value from their first days at work.

How to Develop an Effective Employee Onboarding Program

5. Increased employee autonomy

Automated onboarding drives autonomy across your employees, reducing time-to-productivity and encouraging self-learning. It allows new hires to complete tasks at their own pace and access resources online, empowering digital onboarding.

6. Improved data analytics

By implementing technology in your onboarding process, you can access built-in analytics that helps make the connections between learning and results, track employee engagement, understand challenges, and improve the learner experience.

Implementing a digital adoption platform such as Whatfix helps you create scalable onboarding flows built directly into your enterprise applications and provides actionable insights to build data-backed learning experiences for your employees. Whatfix’s in-built analytics provides usage and engagement-related data for your onboarding content in easy-to-understand visual formats. It helps track training analytics metrics such as completion rate, participation rate, engagement rate, content consumption rate, queries resolved, etc.

Create personalized and engaging employee onboarding programs at scale with Whatfix

8 Ways To Implement Automation In Your Onboarding Process

Here are the eight use cases for automation in the onboarding process.

1. Pre-boarding workflows

A pre-boarding workflow is a set of actions an HR rep takes before the new hire’s first day at work. It involves informing new employee of their start date, assigning a mentor to guide them for the first few weeks, informing the team about a new member, and preparing training materials for successful onboarding.

Manual preboarding is prone to error, especially when an HR rep needs to welcome multiple people simultaneously. It increases the chances of missing critical information and making your organization look unprofessional in the eyes of a new hire. No wonder 67 percent of organizations report more than a 10 percent drop-off rate pre-joining.

Automation helps standardize the pre-boarding process and transition smoothly to the onboarding stage. 

One of the best examples of pre-boarding automation is a triggered new hire email sequence. Livestorm has set up several Zapier integrations to automatically send out pre-boarding emails to new hires once they complete specific actions. The first email in the sequence is triggered once a candidate signs a job offer — the email includes a questionnaire that collects their administrative data, personal information, and their equipment preferences.

2. Record-keeping

The HR department collects and manages large amounts of employee records daily. Manual record-keeping involves spending hours transferring data across systems, which eats up the most productive hours of your HR team.

Automation allows you to streamline the process of collecting, organizing, and storing employee data and documents. With automated record-keeping, you can easily track the progress of new hires and keep your documentation up-to-date with minimal effort.

Side note: One of the challenges that come with the digitalization of employee records is an increased risk of data leaks. To keep your employee information safe, you must choose an HR software that provides the latest recommended secure cipher suites and protocols. Platforms like PeopleHR and EmployeeConnect check all the security boxes.

3. Onboarding checklist

An onboarding checklist is a list of steps a new hire must take to complete the onboarding process successfully. In a traditional onboarding process, new employees are required to inform their mentor of every task completed, creating a disturbing experience for both sides.

However, in an automated onboarding workflow, the to-do list unlocks additional data and activities as a new hire makes it through the checklist, eliminating the need for close supervision.

Automating the onboarding workflow gives you visibility into the progress and helps identify areas where additional support or resources might be helpful. For example, if you see a new hire stuck on a certain task, you can intervene and provide additional training or support.

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4. New hire training

New employee training is an integral part of the onboarding process, involving soft- and hard-skill training to help employees navigate their roles in the organization.

Unless you’ve set up a standardized, automated onboarding process, you’ll need to spend a lot of time training new employees on their roles and the company procedures. Without automated employee assessment processes and pre-built training content, it would take a lot of time and resources to try to keep up with your employees’ learning needs and provide adequate upskilling opportunities.

Automated training, however, eliminates the need for time-consuming in-person training and lets you deliver new skills and knowledge through online courses, webinars, or other digital learning resources. 

Pro tip: Invest in employee training software or eLearning authoring tools with algorithms that gather information on your employees and suggest learning activities based on that information. A digital adoption platform (DAP) is a training solution that integrates with digital tools to provide automated, personalized onboarding/training in the flow of work. It assigns each learner a contextual task list containing relevant walk-throughs based on the learner’s user segment. These walkthroughs show users how to complete a certain process by guiding them through each step, showing them relevant training videos, or providing informative articles.

5. Technology adoption

Digital adoption is the process aimed at enabling employees to make the most of an organization’s toolkit. In the manual onboarding process, digital adoption is usually overlooked or discussed superficially.

To achieve a high digital adoption rate for your product, you must understand the key drivers of adoption, track and measure specific metrics, and employ the right software, such as Whatfix DAP.

Whatfix lays on top of your product, allowing you to create interactive, in-app content such as interactive walkthroughsproduct tours, self-help widgets, tooltips, task lists, beacons, and more.

These platforms can help you improve product adoption by giving users a helping hand as they move through your product – all in a no-code environment, meaning your organization doesn’t need support from your product or development team to create and launch these UI assets.

6. Self-help

When not provided with easy access to critical information, new hires turn to their mentors or colleagues for answers. It leads to disruptions and overall lower efficiency of the onboarding process.

You may have a comprehensive knowledge base where all the information about the company, its policies, and its products or services is covered. But if the resource is hard to navigate, it’s most likely your employees will end up disturbing people managers with common questions. 

To avoid such disruptions, chatbots or virtual assistants can be set up to answer employees’ queries, making company information more accessible. For example, Landbot offers a chatbot that interacts with your new hires and provides them with tasks and helpful resources through one widget.

7. Progress tracking

Measuring the progress of new hires not only helps evaluate the effectiveness of your onboarding process but also understand if the trainees are ready to get up to speed.

Automated onboarding makes it easy to monitor the onboarding progress of new employees and ensure that they are meeting key milestones. 

Depending on the type of onboarding solution you use, it provides you with the relevant employee data. For instance, if you use a learning management system (LMS), it will display training-related data like interactions with training material and quiz scores. 

8. Feedback collection

It’s easy to miss this step if you follow a manual onboarding process. When a new hire finally gets to a point where you can collect valuable feedback from them, your HR reps may be so overwhelmed with the entire process (or already absorbed in a new onboarding workflow) that they don’t find time to do it.

With automated onboarding, employee feedback can be collected on autopilot. All you need is to set up a workflow that sends a survey to a new hire on achieving a certain milestone in the onboarding process. For instance, after a new hire completes their onboarding process and checks all the boxes on their to-do list, the workflow will trigger a survey email and get all the necessary information for you.

8 Ways To Implement Automation In Your Onboarding Process

Here’s how you can create an automated onboarding process that both HR reps and new hires will appreciate.

1. Define your goals

If you are looking to transition your employee onboarding process from manual to automated, you must set up long and short-term measurable outcomes as the first step.

To set your goals, ask yourself – What do you hope to improve through onboarding automation? Are you looking to reduce the time and resources needed for onboarding? Do you want to improve the employee experience? 

You must have a clear goal in mind before you start to automate your onboarding flows. Knowing the ‘why’ behind the big change will help you prioritize the automation initiatives and define KPIs for each.

2. Identify the current manual processes

Look at your existing onboarding process and make a list of all tasks included. Mark the ones already automated (if any) and the ones still manual. It’s also a good idea to specify how much time your HR reps spend on each task within one onboarding cycle.

3. Prioritize the processes to be automated

Review the resulting list of manual processes and prioritize automation initiatives. Which process would you begin with?

You must prioritize automation based on its impact on the goals defined earlier. For example, if you aim to reduce the workload of your HR team, start with automating tasks that eat up most of their time. And if your focus is to increase employee engagement, automated surveys and data analytics should be your priorities.

4. Choose onboarding and employee management technology

Choose the right technology that empowers HR departments to ease their load and facilitate smooth and simple onboarding for new hires. Employee onboarding software are designed to streamline all the tasks associated with onboarding and facilitate a completely digital completion of onboarding tasks like documentation requirements, colleague introductions, and training planning.

Here are the most popular types of onboarding software you can implement to support your onboarding automation initiatives.

  • Whatfix – Whatfix provides a personalized employee onboarding experience for your new hires. The platform overlays your enterprise application to guide new users through the application or software with interactive, in-app walkthroughs for employees to experience in-app and real-time navigational onboarding while working on the application.
  • Gusto — A people management platform providing onboarding, payroll management, and benefit management solutions for small businesses.
  • BambooHR — BambooHR’s suite offers complete solutions, including data analytics (HRIS), applicant tracking system, onboarding, compensation, and culture management.
  • Workday —  A sophisticated enterprise management system that includes automated onboarding and employee experience management functionality.

It’s likely you’ll need to implement a few different software solutions to handle different processes. For instance, you may need an HRIS to manage employee data, an LMS to provide on-demand training, and a DAP to offer business toolkit walkthroughs. You can streamline all those processes by integrating these tools via direct plugins or through third-party tools such as Zapier or Workato.

5. Integrate your onboarding technology with existing systems

Imagine this you’ve automated the entire onboarding process, but you have to manage ten different software solutions now. You can hardly call it ‘process optimization.’ No, that’s not how you do it.

To ensure that data is flowing seamlessly between different systems and manage it easily, you need to integrate onboarding technology. 

Your HR management and applicant tracking systems must offer seamless integration with your employee training software so that your HR team and new hires don’t have to manage multiple logins or interfaces. This is why must check the compatibility of the chosen platforms before you commit.

6. Set up automated pulse surveys

Pulse surveys are frequent check-ins that help you collect employees’ opinions on certain topics in real time.

As part of automating your onboarding process, it’s useful to set up pulse surveys to collect feedback from new hires on their onboarding experience. This simple step will help you identify areas for further improvement. 

You can either use your HRIS to collect feedback or use a dedicated employee experience platform like Culture Amp. The tool offers a range of survey templates for employees in different stages and roles and applies various data analytics methods to get actionable insights from your survey results.

7. Measure and analyze results

In the end, the entire onboarding program is evaluated to determine if it was successful and met the objectives. Consider using the following metrics to measure the effectiveness of your onboarding process:

  • Employee feedback: helps determine whether or not the onboarding helped new hires learn new things, what their overall opinions or suggestions are, and more.
  • Knowledge gained: Tests, quizzes, or demonstrations help evaluate the learnings gained by employees after the onboarding sessions.
  • Job proficiency: Observe your employees to figure out whether or not they’re using the new knowledge in their day-to-day tasks.
  • Data analytics: Use your onboarding software’s data analytics dashboard to determine how your employees are interacting with your courses.
Improve your onboarding process with automated in-app training by Whatfix

If your goal is to ensure a seamless software onboarding process for your new hires, then Whatfix digital adoption platform is your go-to solution. Whatfix has helped over 500 global clients create personalized and engaging employee onboarding programs at scale and catapult your employees to rapid productivity. 

Whatfix DAP overlays on any web, desktop, and mobile application and guides new users with interactive, in-app walkthroughs of a company’s software tools and digital processes. The platform guides new employees with its mission-critical software, enabling a fast ramp-up time and improving overall application adoption of common business tools such as CRM, ERP, HCM software, and other enterprise platforms. 

Intrigued to learn more about Whatfix? Schedule a free demo with us today!

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