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Why Digital Onboarding is Essential


Is your organization already struggling to find the best talent? If so, put yourself in the shoes of a candidate for a moment. Take a look at your organization’s employer branding on your website and social media pages. Do you think candidates would be impressed? Hopefully yes, but many organizations’ employer branding leaves a lot to be desired.

Appealing to all possible candidate personas across all touch points, and ensuring the hiring process is timely, are both critical. Candidate drop-out increases 25% for each week of delay in the recruitment process. And because candidates (for both permanent and contingent work) often have multiple job opportunities in process, they will quickly drop out or decline job offers where hiring processes frustrate them.

However, employer branding is not only about attracting candidates, but about keeping them once they become employees. Here, a digital onboarding process is something that organizations of all sizes can leverage to make a big impression on new hires. Yet 25% of organizations still do not have any formal onboarding process, and this can have serious implications, including:

  • Up to 20% employee turnover in the first 45 days
  • Employees being 10 times more likely to leave within the first year of employment.

However, where organizations have a structured onboarding process, 65% of new hires are likely to still be employed by the company three years later.

Onboarding for the SMB

Surprisingly, not all the well-known enterprise HCM providers have an onboarding module, but there are plenty of providers that can offer onboarding technology/tools, a snapshot of which I discovered at the UNLEASH HR industry event in London last month.

Sage, focusing on the SMB market, has onboarding as part of a unified approach to attracting and managing talent through its Sage Business Cloud People technology, built on Salesforce app cloud. The platform allows seamless transition from candidate through to employee via a branded onboarding portal. Other features include automated forms, custom workflow management, and new hire onboarding surveys.

The platform is mobile-enabled and accessible from any device, and enables a positive user experience, including clean lines, vibrant colors, dashboard personalization, and swipe-right functionality. A taster of what Sage is offering can be seen by looking at their own onboarding site, covering pre-boarding and the first three months of employment: a good example of a vendor walking the talk with their own product.

Appification enables easy access to onboarding tools

Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 for Talent: Onboard also brings onboarding to organizations via an app which can be integrated into the organization’s existing HR architecture, negating the need for replacement of legacy HCM technology. Once candidates accept a job offer, they can access the Onboard platform and use step-by-step checklists (e.g. for background checks, form-filling), see organizational information in a central repository (e.g. training resources, organisation charts, and tips to navigate different departments), and link to cross-functional teams with detailed contact information. Templates for documents can be created, replicated, and modified. Other content, such as location maps, local attraction guides, and public transport timetables can be added.

Meanwhile, hiring managers and recruiters can monitor progress on which tasks have been completed by new hires.

Digital onboarding case study

At the UNLEASH event, a practical case study of embracing digital onboarding was provided by a global information services organization. The organization had a traditional paper-based onboarding program, but its new hires felt disconnected because line managers were not prepared for the new joiners, often with essentials like IT equipment not in place on the first day – a problem identified across all geographical regions.

As part of a wider talent transformation initiative, the organization prioritized the candidate experience. And, in early 2017, it transitioned from paper-based onboarding to using the Oracle Taleo Onboarding Cloud Service. The main features include a new hire portal, electronic forms, validated electronic signatures, automated workflows, a correspondence library, and reporting & analytics.

The organization used online publishing tool Page Tiger to create engaging and interactive content, including videos, infographics, pop-up boxes, and weblinks. Initially, the onboarding program was rolled out in the U.S., the U.K. soon followed, and global roll-out is set to be completed in the first half of 2018.

Lessons learned from the adoption of digital onboarding include:

  • Thinking about the big picture and identifying what a great onboarding experience looks like globally
  • Embedding onboarding best practice as part of a core set of standards
  • Ensuring data compliance
  • Giving localized teams more scope to develop specific content for their region/country
  • Scaling up any successful localized content to a wider audience in the organization. 

The results so far have been impressive:

  • 4,500 onboarding packs automated
  • 96% new hire onboarding satisfaction level achieved
  • 25% process efficiencies gained by using a single global technology
  • 60% improvement in the ‘time to offer acceptance’ metric.

More improvements are planned from H2 2018 onwards. In addition to onboarding, Oracle Taleo Onboarding Cloud Service can be used for internal mobility, cross-boarding and offboarding, and linked to learning plans (by integrating with Oracle Taleo Learn).  It can also be integrated with other enterprise back-office systems.


The global talent shortage for both permanent and contingent workers is worsening, candidates increasingly have multiple job opportunities in the pipeline at any one time, and onboarding tools and technologies are more accessible and easier to integrate into existing systems than ever. Given this, there’s no excuse for organizations not to embrace digital onboarding. And if they don’t, there’s a very good chance they’ll be left behind in the war for talent.

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