The ability to recruit and retain talented employees, one of the most highly coveted resources for businesses of all sizes, is critical to industry success. It therefore comes as a surprise (at least to me) that many companies allow talent to slip through their fingers. How can this be? That’s simple: By failing to provide the effective onboarding experience new hires need.

The good news is that more enlightened employers now turn to technology to provide new staff with that very important workplace introduction. It is a structured yet flexible process designed to encourage employees to assimilate the culture of their new organizations, and as a result, stay for the long term.

A High Turnover of Talent

If you are looking for evidence of problems with staff retention, then look no further than the 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey. This annual survey questioned more than 7,000 Millennials from around the world (though it’s not strictly a “Millennial” issue), to find out more about their attitudes toward work. As this graphic from the survey illustrates, fully a quarter of respondents expected to change their job in the next 12 months. Nearly half (44 percent) expected to jet within two years, while two-thirds think they might last until they end of 2020.

How Onboarding Technology Can Improve Talent Retention

While you could say that this lack of loyalty is due to the many stereotypes that trail the Millennial generation, the bottom line remains: An ineffective onboarding strategy certainly won’t encourage them to stick around longer, either. Remember that Millennials now represent the largest segment of the workforce in the United States, so new employees are almost exclusively from this cohort. This means employers must up their game to retain new recruits.

How Technology Can Aid Retention

Many of us remember the traditional (low-tech) onboarding process: Sit in a room, sign forms, skim some manuals, then be shown to a desk and get to work. Today, onboarding is an area where technology can be incorporated to enhance and simplify the process:

  • Communicate the culture and ethos of the organization
  • Explain policies and procedures and complete compliance documents online
  • Clarify roles and setting short- and long-term goals to aid development
  • Aid communication with managers and coworkers by way of forums, video conferencing, and social media outlets, for example.
  • Measure performance, evaluate progress, and provide feedback.

Technology can, of course, only go so far in HR management, with intervention and communication from real people always playing a vital role in the induction process for new employees. It will be a very sad day if a new hire is sent a software package and told to get on with it, however sophisticated that software might be. What a tech-heavy onboarding process can do though is deliver a more consistent, measurable, and effective experience to the benefit of the employer, the employee, and—at the end of the day—the company’s bottom line.

Harnessing Technology Solutions

Let’s look at some examples where technology solutions have already been introduced to enhance the onboarding process.

Empowered Development. One company using onboarding tools to help new employees settle in is the non-profit organization Ashoka. The Financial Force human capital management system, which acts as a hub for information within the organization, allows new staff to complete a number of tasks in the early days of their new jobs. According to operations director Asha Aravindakshan, “The first day sets the tone of the employee’s experience with the organization. All of the tasks help employees get settled in.” The system also allows the new employee to set their own goals, something that Aravindakshan says empowers them to “own their development.”

Aravindakshan also agrees that the software has made the job of HR easier with a streamlined induction system and online resources for new entrants.

Early Introductions. Addressing “first day jitters” is the goal of software developers ADP. Their software has features such as a facility for text and video introductions that can introduce new employees to coworkers, managers, and the company culture even before they enter the workplace.

Administrative functions and legal requirements are also covered; even integration with Google maps is included so new employees don’t get lost their first day at the office. Alex Outwater, senior director of product marketing for innovation and technology at ADP has this to say about the potential benefits for new recruits: “When employees step foot in the office, they know their team, they know their environment, they have met their manager, they have learned about the company, they have taken care of their paperwork. They have figured out where the office is.”

A Workout for the Workforce. Keith Ferrazzi, CEO of onboarding platform Yoi, suggested that using digital tools for onboarding is akin to consulting a Fitbit to stay healthy. Yoi, according to Ferrazzi, is based on a concept of “experiential learning” delivered in relationships with others, which produces results better than those of more traditional e-learning or instructional methods.

The result, Ferrazzi says, is a collection of onboarding tools that can deliver the right actions at the right time throughout the entire induction process. Through a range of assignments and assessments, managers are able, via a desktop interface, to customize the onboarding experience for all new employees. This way, says Ferrazzi, managers have the opportunity to not just boost engagement, but also to identify challenges for new recruits and take appropriate action to support them.

One thing is for sure: Technology is having a huge impact on how business is getting done. It’s interesting to see the variety of ways in which technology is being incorporated into the onboarding process. What has your experience been, either as new recruit or employer? Have you found the use of onboarding technology to be beneficial? I would love to hear about your experiences.

Graphic source The 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey

Additional Resources on this Topic:

Technology Can Save Onboarding from Itself
The First Steps to Transforming Work Culture
The Impact of Technology on HR and What’s Ahead

Photo Credit: johnkasperolympics Flickr via Compfight cc

Join 55,000 other Business and Tech Leaders

Like this? We save the best stuff for our subscribers. Get industry news, business insights, and the information you need delivered straight to your inbox.

You're In! Best decision you've made all week.