Digital transformation of orientation and onboarding as an effective way to retain new employees

By Sergei Golubenko posted 12-07-2018 07:22


Employers tend to disregard proper employee orientation and onboarding due to insufficient time and resources, and more than 20% of companies lack a formal orientation and onboarding process. This leads to new employees’ low engagement, motivation, productivity and high turnover. At the same time, 69% of employees are more likely to stay with a company for at least three years if they experienced great onboarding.

Successful orientation and onboarding not only provides the necessary information and ensures that all needed forms and compliance requirements are completed. It is also an engaging and valuable experience for employees. Digital transformation can help companies to achieve these goals while reducing costs on orientation and onboarding programs and increasing their efficiency.

Onboarding transformed

Digital transformation has already affected many business areas, including employee training and development, and can be helpful in combating high new hire turnover caused by unstructured, tedious and not personalized orientation and onboarding processes. With the help of learning management systems (LMS), mobile apps or extended reality (XR) technologies, digital transformation enables creating and delivering a fully automated all-encompassing orientation and onboarding program that is convenient and engaging for new employees. Besides, LMSs and employee mobile apps, the most popular digital transformation tools, are flexible, scalable and reusable, which makes them cost-effective for employers.

Let’s see how the digital transformation tools can revamp employee orientation and onboarding at three stages of the process: pre-orientation, orientation, and onboarding.

Pre-orientation stage

The first day on a job is stressful for each new employee. An HR manager can decrease their anxiety, improve engagement, and make a good first impression by launching orientation and onboarding before day one – when a new hire accepts a job offer. And it’s easier done through digitization.

An HR manager sends a new hire a welcome email with information about the company’s mission, vision and values together with an employee handbook. The welcome email can contain a link to a corporate mobile app. If a new employee downloads this app, they will be reminded about a date and a time of arrival to work and have a schedule for the first day: filling in forms, getting credentials for a computer, taking safety training, etc. The app can also deliver a short video about the company and an administration chart that indicates a new employee’s place in the organizational hierarchy. Besides, the app can provide a map of the company’s premises and highlight a new employee’s working station.

Thus, new hires know in advance where to go and what to do. They also feel that they are wanted and cared about by the company, which increases their motivation and assures they’ve made the right choice.

Orientation stage

Orientation usually takes the first two days. During this period, new employees meet their colleagues and receive more detailed information about the company, its business activities, etc.

An employee app can become part of the buddy system (a buddy is a co-worker who is assigned to a new hire), especially if the company can’t spare an HR manager for orientation of each employee. A mobile buddy can be as helpful as a real person and answer almost any question through an FAQ section for new hires. The employee mobile app can store interactive manuals, corporate policies, a contacts list, etc. Some apps (for example, EmployeeConnect) support such orientation and onboarding features as job description management, orientation training management, etc. Mobile apps often use gamification to increase employees’ engagement and motivation. New hires can get awards for discovering certain locations in a large office and completing some tasks, for example, passing safety training.

Besides mobile technologies, LMSs can transform orientation. An LMS can be integrated with a corporate intranet where a new employee’s profile will be created. Due to this integration, new hires can learn about their colleagues’ job responsibilities, hobbies and communities they belong to. Thus, they can get to know new people even before meeting them in person, which facilitates their blending into the team. New employees can also connect with colleagues through communication tools, such as chats, blogs, etc.

The LMS can give new hires access to a start guide on computer logins, email setups, etc., and help with filling in the hiring forms. For example, a SharePoint LMS can streamline this filling-in process due to using ready-made document templates stored in SharePoint libraries. What’s more, the SharePoint LMS integration with e-signing software, such as DocuSign, turns handling the hiring documentation into a fully automated process.

Extended reality (XR) technologies can bring immersive experiences to new employees during the orientation period increasing their engagement. For example, with a VR headset, a new hire can have a 3D tour through the company, including overseas offices, which will give new employees the full picture of buildings, business, products and people.

Onboarding stage

The onboarding period usually starts during the first week and may last for a few months. At this stage, new employees get to know their departments, job responsibilities and undergo job-specific training.

LMSs can ensure effective training management from automatic enrolling to job-specific training (customer service, procurement, accounting, etc.) to the evaluation of new employees’ progress and certification. Through tests, the LMS can help to evaluate the knowledge level of new employees, determine their knowledge gaps, and map personal training plans for them, as well as define their aptitudes for different kinds of tasks. Due to real-time analytics, it’s easy for trainers to track new hires’ progress. As LMSs offer many tools to communicate with colleagues, trainers, or mentors, new employees can quickly get answers to their questions and support from coworkers.

Employee apps can be used to schedule onboarding training. They can support formal training by providing key takeaways from training sessions for new hires to refresh knowledge. Employees can also set automated reminders about tests or exams. What’s more, mobile apps can be used to create and deliver job-specific microtraining that consists of bite-sized learning modules. New employees can learn at their own pace and choose the most suitable time for learning. Also, mobile apps can be used as performance support tools during onboarding. For example, while on a practical training session on assembling equipment, a new employee can utilize the tips displayed on their mobile device.

The immersive technologies are perfect for onboarding training related to dangerous or high-stress jobs, such as in healthcare, construction engineering industries and more. For example, medical interns can take VR training on handling specific situations, such as a patient’s organ failure. 

To sum it up

Employee orientation and onboarding digitally transformed with the help of LMSs, mobile apps and XR technologies increases new employees’ engagement and motivation and diminishes their level of stress. Thus, new hires not only receive knowledge required for a job but are also encouraged to establish strong connections with co-workers and easily blend into the team, which facilitates new employee retention.