Did you know that 20% of employee turnover occurs in the first 45 days of a new job? Those first few weeks and months are crucial for employee retention, which is why a good employee onboarding experience is so critical.

What Is Employee Onboarding?

Employee onboarding is the process of smoothing the transition from new hire to team member.

The immediate goals are to make new employees feel welcome and acclimate them to the organization’s culture, get them up and running to be productive and engaged as quickly as possible, and — no less important — create an experience that will establish your company as a standard-bearing employer of choice.

Doing so successfully will generate goodwill, increase retention, and ultimately create value in the form of employee productivity, loyalty, and retention.

Creating an Employee Onboarding Process

Now, let’s explore the characteristics of a great employee onboarding process. How many of these qualities describe your program?

1. Welcoming

First impressions are the most important, which is why you should make employee experience (EX) the foundation of your onboarding strategy.

Imagine a tech startup presenting a new programmer with a thick binder of forms to fill out and materials to read, or an organization that prides itself on its family-like culture offering up a generic employee web portal. In either case, the onboarding experience is disconnected from the brand. Instead, it should be your brand’s best foot forward, engaging your new employee from the start.

On the practical side, a great onboarding experience should ensure that new employees are introduced to their work environment and coworkers as part of the process. Maybe it introduces the newcomer to the team and encourages welcoming emails, or facilitates scheduling a sit-down with the team leader.

2. Tailored

Just as the onboarding experience should be an expression of your organization’s brand and culture, it should also be specific to the role your new employee will be taking on. Every irrelevant, extraneous question or process on a generic screen leaves a negative impression of your employer brand. Every missing detail and wasted effort is a source of frustration for your new employee.

Imagine instead a process that is personalized to the employee and unique to their role. They’re presented with relevant choices for benefits, equipment, training, and other options. They get the tools they need to do their job, and none that they don’t.

A tailored experience is difficult to achieve at scale with off-the-shelf solutions or hastily cobbled-together portals. You need a solution that makes it easy to offer every employee a personalized experience that can be updated as needs evolve.

3. Effortless

Onboarding is a dynamic process involving multiple stakeholders, a complex workflow, and many organizational departments. The key to excellent onboarding is to make this complexity invisible to the employee as well as to the HR staff itself.

Great UX anticipates the needs of users, and great EX should do the same. Rather than leaving a new employee to hunt down the information they need, it should put them on a path that will have them completing steps — from filling out tax forms to getting access to the network — in the order required without duplicating effort or directing them from one department to the next. It should answer their most pressing questions, and provide easy access to the people to ask should the answer not be readily available.

This ease should apply to the HR team as well. Onboarding typically involves a number of repetitive manual tasks: assembling and distributing forms to fill out and sign, arranging network and facility access, getting new employees set up with the right equipment, inputting data from paper forms, and setting up appointments. The more you streamline these tasks, the more time HR team members have to address the company’s strategic needs.

4. Digital

Sure, you can accomplish some of these goals with a paper-based system, but not all of them. And certainly not easily.

There are a number of options when it comes to creating a digital employee onboarding experience. Many enterprise HR management (HRM) systems include a generic onboarding module. Some point solutions can help with certain aspects of the process.

When these fall short, organizations often turn to an employee portal, typically a browser screen filled with links to departments, databases, forms, and directories. None of these solutions provide the effortless tailored experience your employees crave.

Build for Employee Experience, Build for the Future

You could use traditional app development to create an engaging experience, but this is a slow, inflexible process that consumes a disproportionate level of financial and human resources.

The best solution is a low-code development platform offering a visual, model-driven approach so you can efficiently create custom-built digital onboarding experiences that focus on people, instead of being limited by legacy processes and tools.

OutSystems makes it much faster to create applications that guide new employees from their first days and weeks in the company to beyond, ensuring a quick ramp-up and facilitating employee productivity and retention.

To learn more about it, check out our Employee Onboarding page.