It’s bright and early. A cool mist kisses the streets, the hubbub of the city is shifting into a higher gear, and the morning coffee is just about working its magic. Try as you might, you can’t shake the twisted knot in your stomach.

We’ve all been there.

A new job. A day of firsts. An intimidating building, a host of unfamiliar faces, and absolutely no idea what to expect from the day, weeks, and months ahead.

This pain of onboarding new employees is all too real for managers and new hires alike. Enter digital employee onboarding, which transfers much of the process online, hence the name.

It’s high time for a better approach.

The Pain of Tradition

Being the new recruit isn’t easy. The onboarding process for new employees is taxing for existing staff, the HR department, supervisors, and, most of all, the new hirelings themselves.

The rookies’ synapses are electrified with new information. They struggle for breath, afraid to forget. Forms must be filled, handbooks studied, company policies internalized, and training attended.

On top of that, there is work to do.

There’s no need to sugarcoat it.

Traditional employee onboarding is a maelstrom of pitfalls. If anything goes wrong, there’s a fair chance the new blood will run for the door, causing a migraine for HR as they hunt down a replacement at a moment’s notice.

The dinosaurs and old souls will cry sacrilege at the prospect of restructuring the onboarding process. After all, that’s how it was done back in my day!

But there’s a far better approach than sitting a new hire in a drab, sterile room to fill out a mountain of mind-numbing paperwork, do a quick round of awkward introductions, and then throw them to their desk expecting results.

Digital onboarding provides a host of advantages that are beneficial to staff, new hires, and the company alike. If you’re unsure what it looks like in practice, be sure to check out this onboarding checklist.

Digital Allows for Preboarding

The digital approach allows starters to be ready to go from day one. With a firm grasp on company culture and a good idea of what to expect, they can arrive unburdened by first-day jitters.

This is great for multiple reasons.

Confident employees will get to work faster and with a hands-on attitude. Meanwhile, managers and supervisors will be better able to delegate tasks from the get-go.

With access to online forums (such as Slack) and social media outlets, employees can network with their coworkers before they’ve even met in person, solidifying team spirit and their sense of purpose.

Connecting with coworkers before meeting starting the job is a powerful motivator.

What’s more, preboarding lets employees go at their own pace, ensuring they aren’t overloaded. Having instant, anytime access to such files also means that the core messages are far more likely to be internalized.

In other words, the new hire isn’t going in blind, and they’ve had the chance to acquaint themselves with their team. Important documents are electronically signed and turned in on time.

To make a good deal even better, these are all aspects that are superb for morale, which immediately translates into improved productivity and a critical reduction in new hire drop rates.

Digital Employee Onboarding Expands Reach

It’s no secret that the realm of the remote worker is the new rising star. Hiring staff based out of the home office has gained a lot of traction for reasons that should be obvious by now.

No longer forced to rely on locally available talent (or those willing to relocate), organizations can tap into a network of remote workers and freelancers, expanding their reach by several orders of magnitude.

Global reach is a force to be reckoned with, but it’s only possible if a company can onboard its offsite staff effectively.

One of the key benefits of the digital onboarding process is that it needn’t apply to onsite staff alone. With a little adjustment, it becomes a one-stop shop for offsite staff, as well.

This ultimately means that remote workers are getting the same package as everybody else – which is crucial in ensuring inclusiveness. Remote workers who feel isolated from the company culture won’t stick around for long.

Digital is Cost Efficient

Training new employees is expensive.

To make matters worse, the cost of screening and interviewing staff can be prohibitive, particularly where retention rates are suffering.

With reduced in-person training time and required manpower, digital onboarding is far more cost-effective than the traditional method.

Updates, tweaks, and alterations to onboarding procedures are easily implemented on the fly, with little overhead costs.

And, finally, employees are going through everything on their own time, at their own leisure.

That’s an out-of-pocket expense that is no longer footed by the company that hired them, but rather, an investment of time that most employees are only too happy to complete given its other benefits.

Digital is Timely and Consistent

By onboarding employees online, much of the administrative legwork is already done before day one. This is a great reduction in the pipeline of putting new staff to work.

Plain and simple, they can start building on the training you’ve supplied them with from the moment they clock in.

Moreover, a central database of required forms and policies eliminates the drag of managers supplying their new staff with out-of-date info. Nobody wants to be caught out by old practices or misinformation.

That’s not all.

Centralizing the knowledge hub for onboarding means that, particularly for large companies, the entire procedure remains consistent. Everybody is getting the same data; therefore everybody is on equal footing.

Consistency is key in reinforcing company values.

A notable advantage here is that it’s far easier to identify and clean up confusion, training bottlenecks, and errors in company policy. One simple update takes care of everything in a flash.

Digital is Engaging

Engaging learning is effective learning.

Digital onboarding offers a multitude of techniques to supercharge engagement, and the sky’s the limit when it comes to finding ways of landing the right message the first time around.

The best solutions take advantage of a variety of methods.

From the gamification of company policies to personalized welcome videos to testimonials from colleagues to quizzes and presentations, the more creative and engrossing outlets there are, the better.

Picture this.

A roomful of hires sits before an orientation manager who has given the same talk a dozen times. They’re antsy and restless, the manager speaks in a monotonous tone, the room is stuffy, and the coffee machine is on the fritz.

Nobody is learning much about anything.

Contrast that with the same dozen employees, each taking the time when they feel like it to orient themselves through a series of videos, a vivid, image-filled presentation, and a quiz or two.

If they want a break for a fill of coffee, a breath of fresh air, some lunch, or some time in front of the TV, who’s there to stop them?

At the end of it, the automated process lets them know what they’ve missed, and here’s a big plus for HR: they can monitor everything behind the scenes.

Quizzes, for instance, judge how much information is retained – and let employees redo it until they get it right. They allow for the slow filter of information so that nobody is overloaded.

And lastly, it’s fairly easy to implement other hidden checks and balances. Need to analyze where the most confusion lies? Digital onboarding has your back.

Digital Allows for Continued Learning

Onboarding shouldn’t be viewed as a singular event that happens at the start of an employee’s journey. Likewise, digital onboarding needn’t be restricted to new hires alone.

It’s the vital foundation upon which all further training is built. It’s the start of something, not the end. The best professionals never stop improving their skillset.

Solid onboarding allows for solid, continuous learning. It’s where it all starts.

The onboarding platform should be one that any employee can access. Perhaps they’re feeling rusty on a particular policy and need a refresher. Maybe they need to brush up on a strategy.

By viewing the platform as a tool accessible to any, companies can cultivate an environment that encourages and rewards continuous learning, which benefits everybody.

Digital is Personal

Your new staff are walking through the digital onboarding process themselves, sitting at home in their pajamas.

They’re never going to feel more comfortable, open, and receptive to company messages than that.

The personal spice offered by pre-recorded messages is a great way of endearing new hires to the culture they’re going to be working in, but it can be taken a step further.

Many of the traditional onboarding tasks are done, dusted, and swept away.

So, when a new starter does arrive on site, there is ample time for a personal touch. Talking to employees is important, and there’s more space in the day to do it.

Plus, digital tracking metrics and to-do lists allow managerial staff to better monitor and engage with the progress their new hires are making.

Not up to scratch on the latest marketing strategy? The digital platform has you covered.

Unsure about what’s expected from you in your initial training package? No sweat. Reach out to a supervisor on a digital platform and get an answer in the blink of an eye.

Digital is Less Work

Compared with the traditional approach, digital onboarding is far more accessible for new hires.

It makes for a smoother ride for everybody else involved, too.

Electronic documents don’t need printing, stacking, stapling, or filing. It just happens. On its own. That’s a win for the people in HR who already have enough to do (and the intern who orders the ink and printing paper).

Automated progress tracking means a lighter workload for managers, and that’s a win for them, as well. A click of a button will show them where their employees are struggling.

Lastly, a new employee portal that allows for open communication between new hires will see them clearing up confusion and misnomers on their own.

Quite simply, it’s less work for everyone.

Digital is Comprehensive

Here’s another thought experiment.

One of the supervisors drew the short straw and grumbles about having to show the recruits around on orientation day. That wouldn’t be an issue if they didn’t have a critical meeting in ten minutes.

Under those circumstances, it’s easy to miss the mark – and truth told, nobody’s to blame.

Lacking a vital shred of insight can kill a new starter’s spirit. Doubly so if they end up blamed for a blunder that could easily have been avoided, or find out they’ve been doing things wrong at their first feedback meet.

With the right digital framework, the risk of missing critical knowledge is mitigated outright. Confirmations and automated checklists are part of the system.

Everything is razor-sharp, up-to-date, and ultimately, it’s just not possible to miss the memo. It’s not infallible (of course it isn’t), but it goes a long way toward addressing common mistakes and concerns.

Digital is the Future

There are no two ways about it.

The workplace is undergoing a fundamental and massive upheaval. The traditional employee onboarding process is not just ineffective – it’s obsolete.

The future is digital in all things business.

By taking the leap and switching to digital employee onboarding, organizations can optimize their new hire retention rates and rake in massive savings in training them.

Digital onboarding welcomes new starters into their ranks with open arms and a hospitable climate. What better way to start than that?

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