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All Aboard… Quickly!

Among our clients we have seen a strong interest in a particular subset of the HR discipline that promises to reduce costs and improve employee productivity. In fact, it also has the potential to positively impact employee morale and a new employee’s initial impressions of their employer. So, what’s this hot topic with so much promise? The answer is that employers are increasingly concerned with finding ways to more efficiently, and more rapidly, integrate new employees into the fabric of the organization.

Onboarding Process

For many companies, the onboarding process is challenging (or even broken). On one hand, the organization needs things from the new employee:

  • We need various federal, state, and local government forms filled out.
  • We need to verify the employee’s eligibility to work.
  • We need emergency contact details.
  • We need the employee to complete benefit elections, name beneficiaries, name dependents, etc.

But the employees also need many things from the organization. As a new employee, we need information – details on the benefits plans and an understanding of the organization’s culture, priorities and goals. We need to learn some of the key people in the organization, some important organizational history, and most importantly – who to contact when we need help.

Finally, there’s a host of activities that are required on the part of the organization in order to be ready for the new employee to start and be productive. Office space must be reserved. Technology equipment must be acquired and configured. Email and other services must be provisioned and set up.

These activities aggregated together comprise the complex activity of onboarding a new employee. And to the extent an organization can do this faster, better, and cheaper – all parties win. Employees are integrated into the organization quicker and get up to speed faster, resulting in more efficient and motivated employees. The organization has a vested interest in onboarding employees more efficiently, especially when they have many new hires each month. Every company is interested in finding ways to get employees up to full efficiency as fast as possible. All of these dynamics represent a substantial business challenge.

How Do We Best Address the Challenge at Hand?

First of all, we’ve encouraged clients to take a very process-oriented view of all the moving parts and pieces of the onboarding process.

  • Where does the process flow begin?
  • Which part of the organization launches the process?
  • What information must flow to the next process step?
  • Which tasks can run in parallel across the organization?

We often find that Visio swim-lane diagrams can be a very useful way to map out the many parallel flows in this process. Second, we’ve encouraged clients to leverage the capabilities within their HR systems.

Employee Self Services

For those using SAP HCM, we encourage consideration of the onboarding capabilities within the Employee Self Services (ESS) module. Within ESS, prospective employees (those who have accepted an offer of employment but have not yet started):

  • can be granted limited access to review benefit programs,
  • make initial benefit choices,
  • watch onboarding videos, and
  • complete various government forms.

All of these post-acceptance and pre-start-date activities can help get the employee up to speed faster.

Finally, if an organization lacks a fully implemented ESS solution, we’ve encouraged them to consider alternative methods to speed the process of collecting needed forms, data and decisions. Sharepoint can be a way to collect data from prospective employees. Other secure, web-based form products can also be used to confidentially and safely collect necessary data from prospective employees prior to their start date.

By taking a holistic approach to the data gathering requirements and the process requirements involved in the onboarding effort, organizations can truly speed the successful integration of new employees into the organization. The payoff is clear:

  • reduced costs,
  • happier new hires, and
  • faster time to full productivity.

Perhaps most importantly, if your competition does this better than you – it’s time to seriously address this challenge and make the necessary innovations to improve this critical process. The train is leaving the station… All aboard… quickly!