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Choosing the best HR onboarding software for your new employees

The many facets of Human Resources (HR) have mostly been digitized, so it’s no surprise that employee onboarding has become automated. There are many products to choose from, so how do you land on the best HR onboarding software for your new team members?

Content team
Content team

Content manager Keith MacKenzie and content specialist Alex Pantelakis bring their HR & employment expertise to Resources.

best HR onboarding software

Follow our easy guide to understanding the criteria you should look out for and our recommendations on the best HR onboarding software available on the market right now.

First, a quick look at the importance of employee onboarding and what it should entail.

What is employee onboarding and why is it necessary?

Employee onboarding is an imperative process when introducing a new employee to your organization. It’s a way to help your new recruit integrate into your company in a welcoming and efficient manner – and to calm any nerves they may feel. This can include, but is not limited to:

  • Workstation setup
  • Meet and greet with fellow employees and managers
  • Guidance on organization processes
  • A company culture briefing
  • Presentation of mission, vision, and values
  • Administrative paperwork for tax and benefits
  • On-the-job training
  • Security clearance
  • Provision of technology requirements (hardware and software)

The process of employee onboarding is exactly that – a “process”. It can take anything from a week to a year for your new employee to truly acclimate to their surroundings.

“My new employees go through orientation; why do they need onboarding too?”

Orientation is vital to a person’s new work role, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to proper induction. Orientation is a once-off event that usually takes place in one day to give that first welcome to the company. Onboarding is a process that is made up of a series of events meant to provide your new hire with everything they need to perform at optimal levels.

“This sounds expensive; do I have to do it?”

According to SHRM, 69% of employees who have had a good onboarding experience are more likely to stay with a company for three years.

Higher retention rates means lower turnover rates. This means money saved.

How so? The average cost per hire is about $4,000 and takes 24 days to fill a role. With a high turnover rate, you spend that amount of time and money whenever you hire a new employee to replace the last. So, make sure you’re giving your recruits a great onboarding experience – it will save you thousands in the long run!

What are the major challenges of employee onboarding?

While it’s entirely possible that your onboarding process won’t go off without a hitch, here are a few challenges for which you can prepare yourself:

1. Paperwork, paperwork, and more paperwork

Multiple copies of the same document, forms for IT, clearance information for security, contracts…it’s an endless ream that’s sure to result in paper cuts and ink-stained fingers.

2. Immediate access to information required for work

Your poor new employee has copious amounts of information thrown at them that’s near impossible to remember. A quick-access guide to the most important bits will be appreciated.

3. Struggling to keep track of upcoming events

There are workshops and training sessions aimed at getting your latest recruit up to speed. Creating a schedule that alerts them to when their presence is needed and allows them to track their movements during onboarding gives them some control.

4. Feelings of isolation and incompetence

Joining a new company can be stressful and new hires getting lost in the shuffle is a serious risk. Being bogged down with a backlog of work while expected to perform under pressure can lead to rapid burnout and a swinging door as they throw in the towel. Checking in regularly with new employees and keeping an eye on their progress will make them feel supported and appreciated.

How can HR onboarding software support you?

All these challenges you just read about? Forget about them. Employee onboarding software takes care of the nitty gritty so you can get on with the fun stuff. Let’s see how it stands up to the challenges you could face in onboarding new employees.

1. Paperwork is a thing of the past

Electronic signatures, remote access so they can fill in documents before they even enter the building, and immediate delivery to all the relevant departments – it’s a simple process that can be done within minutes. This will give you the opportunity to focus on employee integration. Time saved, money saved, trees saved.

2. Electronic handbook of work processes and important information

HR onboarding software allows you to create a central repository of documents to which your new hire will have access, guiding them as they find their way through your organization. This knowledge base inspires independence and saves you all from time-consuming queries.

3. Built-in, customizable schedules

When your new employee joins (whether in office or remotely), they will already have a clear idea of what their day looks like, where they need to be, and when they need to be there. Any system that allows a new recruit to operate somewhat autonomously and gives them a sense of self should be instantly incorporated.

4. Communication portals and dashboards

A simple “Hi, how are you doing?” can mean the world to an employee who feels alone or overwhelmed. HR onboarding software usually has a chat function that will allow you to communicate easily and instantly. There are also dashboards for projects allowing those involved to see completed tasks and those that need to be done. You might be able to pick up on red flags by keeping an eye on this data.

What are the essential elements of onboarding software?

Now to consider the absolute must-haves when you’re selecting the best HR onboarding software for you. Here are the essentials every system should have:

1. Includes cloud-based technology

Your employee could be sitting in an office, their home, or a random workspace – you need the seamless integration that cloud-based technology provides for easy but secure sharing.

2. Simple, user-friendly interface

With every new employee, there’s a possibility of a tech knowledge gap. Don’t take it for granted that your new hire is tech-savvy. Choose a software provider that offers a great layout, requires simple inputs, and won’t have your employee calling tech support for every little curveball.

3. A welcome portal

This is where your knowledge base goes. Your new employee’s introduction to the company via this portal should be engaging, fun, and personalized. Videos, welcome messages, quick presentations, etc., should be available to your new recruit as well as instant communication with their colleagues and managers.

4. Automated workflows and processes

A shared task list of everything that needs to be completed should be accessible to everyone involved. The conveyance of information from your employee’s fingertips to the relevant stakeholders should be effortless and once-off. Not only does this ensure the data is accurate across the board, but it also allows your employee to focus on acclimating to their new environment and less on “paperwork”.

5. The ability to set goals

Setting daily and weekly targets allow managers to track their employee’s progress and gives the employee a sense of accomplishment when these targets are met. Any struggles can easily be identified whereas quick completion can indicate potential untapped strengths.

6. Reporting and analytics

There’s always room for improvement, but you need data to implement a plan. Good onboarding software will keep track of your high and low points, allowing you to make changes where necessary and measure the effectiveness of your processes.

7. Easy integration

Some onboarding software is offered as a standalone product, whereas others form part of a Human Resources Information System (HRIS). Opting for a separate program means the onboarding software must complement your current HRIS. A full HR suite might be your best bet to avoid the hassle.

Top HR onboarding software providers

There are hundreds of options when it comes to HR onboarding software. Here are our top picks:

ApplicantStack

This software combines an applicant tracking system (ATS) with an onboarding package. Operating through WorkforceHub and powered by swipelock, ApplicantStack has won G2’s Leader and Fastest Implementation awards for Winter 2023.

Pros

  • Highly customizable – easily add training videos, upload forms and information, and you can include your employee handbook
  • Constant rollout of updates and new features – the system is developing as the needs of new employees evolve
  • User-friendly and intuitive – simple to set up and creating workflows is easy

Cons

  • Combining the ATS with onboarding software costs extra
  • Lack of reporting options
  • Limited search capabilities
  • No notifications of changes to the system

ClearCompany

Operating for close to a decade and having helped over 2,500 clients, ClearCompany considers itself to be customer-led, professional, and ethical. The software is modular, so it’s possible to just choose the onboarding software and not the other options.

Pros

  • Autofill technology – carries information from one form to the next
  • Introduce team members via the Employee Self-Service Portal
  • Bulk onboarding – onboard groups of new hires at the same time

Cons

  • After-service customer care is lacking
  • Not easily customized
  • Hard to navigate workflow stages especially when multiple managers are using the same requisition

Enboarder

This onboarding software has been used by the likes of McDonald’s, Fujitsu, and Deloitte. It won G2’s High Performer award in Fall 2022 and claims to have previously increased employee productivity by 25% and decreased 6-month leavers by 20%.

Pros

  • Provides data-led coaching to managers
  • Best practice journeys are offered as well as personalized experiences
  • Great training and support made available

Cons

  • Difficulty integrating with other programs
  • No notifications when managers or employees haven’t completed a stage in the process
  • Cannot track when changes have been made or see a version history prior to those changes

What should you base your decision on?

Before taking a leap of faith with any of these software providers, consider the characteristics, needs, and future of your organization. Clarifying your position, your affordability, and your goals will help simplify the decision-making process. Here are some factors you should take note of:

1. How much do you need your onboarding software to do?

If your needs are complex and call for intricate detailing, an all-inclusive HR software suite might be best suited to your requirements. If your operation is smaller and you need basic functions performed well, then a simple ATS and onboarding package will be more than enough.

2. What are your thoughts on scalability?

If the onboarding software needs to grow with you at an exponential rate, then buying a more advanced program now will save you in the future.

3. Will it integrate with your current HRIS?

If not, do you plan to replace the entire system? Or will you set your sights lower/higher? And if you don’t have an HRIS, will the uncomplicated ATS and onboarding software suffice?

4. Mind the tech gap

Take on software that is easy to customize and straightforward to use. Your tech-challenged employees will thank you. It’s also best if the visual layout is bright and attractive – your new hires must be inspired by the warm welcome they receive.

5. Let’s talk money

Very few have the ability to dismiss a price tag. Figure out how important onboarding software is to you and work out your budget accordingly. Although, as we mentioned earlier, HR onboarding software is worth the expenditure if it increases your retention rates.

Conclusion

Whether it’s remote or in-person, onboarding is a vital element of recruitment that lays the foundation for the new employee’s tenure at your company. Do your utmost to keep them engaged, happy, and fulfilled during their onboarding process with the support of HR onboarding software to perpetuate that good feeling even once the program has ended.

Frequently asked questions

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