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With onboarding we have so much information and so many activities, you have to ask yourself, "What's the best way to organize all of this work?" There have been traditionally three main approaches. You'll make your decisions based on the size of your organization and the size of your budget. You can use a simple manual approach, a technology-enabled approach, or a completely digital process. Today, a minority of organizations still use a simple manual approach. A strong majority use some form of technology-enabled process, and another minority of progressive organizations are now using a completely paperless digital approach.
The manual approach was fine for many years, but it can be a lot of work. Think about it. You're trying to gather lots of information about the firm, benefits, compensation, employee rules and policies, and so on. You'll spend a good bit of time putting together the initial package, and you'll have to wait for the new hire to call you or mail you forms and information in response. That's slow. Most firms opt for a technology-enabled process. They typically use a small amount of paper in an initial package that includes formal recognition of employment status and start date, a welcome letter, and a few additional sheets of paper which direct the employee to various online locations they'll use to supply information the company needs to get them started.
There will be one or sometimes several dedicated new employee websites or portals that provide an easy-to-use interface that feeds information to other parts of the organization. Thus getting started with benefits, compensation, and so on just takes a few clicks. Now the more comprehensive digital approach exists not just to save paper, but more importantly to streamline and integrate the new hire into the organization's computer system. Firms that have this level of sophistication typically no longer have multiple computer systems running different areas of the firm, and instead use one enterprise-wide system to cover everything.
That means the new employee won't need to visit multiple online locations, only one. This saves them time and increases efficiency for the company because now they've linked HR systems, the ERP, payroll, and so on. It's your choice. Manual will be the cheapest and slowest while the full digital approach is the most expensive and fastest. But no matter which path you follow, there are two additional types of tools you'll want to use as well because today's workforce absolutely expects them.
They are social media tools and webinars. Social media is exploding quickly in both personal and professional life. This includes Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and many other emerging platforms. Companies are rapidly moving past censoring or blocking the use of these tools, and are now learning how to make them work in support of their goals. Onboarding is one great example. So many members of your workforce use social media daily. You can take advantage of this by, for example, setting up groups for your new hires on Facebook, or you can create dedicated internal versions of this just for your company.
This is about creating community so that people who are new and sometimes feel isolated can better connect to others who are facing similar challenges. In addition, for the most important or complex issues that new hires face, or for a general overview of the onboarding process, some type of a webinar is now common and in many ways is replacing classroom training. There are different variations called webinars, hangouts, video conferencing, etc. The point is that live and recorded versions of real people talking to other real people can add great value beyond just having someone interact with words on a computer screen.
The webinar approach allows many of the benefits of face-to-face communication at a fraction of the cost, and with much more convenience. Don't forget this form of communication and dialog is increasingly expected by your workforce and it's not expensive. There you have it. Choose the most advanced onboarding approach you can honestly afford, and then find an appropriate way to use social media and webinars to further reinforce and facilitate the process. That way your new hires can become integrated with the firm as quickly as possible, and then get to work.
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