This article was originally published by TALiNT International. You can view the original article here.
Ali Hackett, founder of candidate engagement tech firm Meet & Engage, explores the digital tools that can help new starters hit the ground running
Everyone likes to feel welcome as they enter a meeting, a party or a group of friends. It’s exactly the same for new employees; make their initial weeks and months a rich experience and you raise the chances that they will turn into loyal and effective team members.
The trouble is that onboarding – the process that begins immediately after a job offer has been accepted, when fresh recruits are being introduced to their new role – is a notoriously under-invested activity. In fact, over a third of companies in the US and the UK reportedly spend nothing on onboarding.
This lack of investment could be putting off significant numbers of potential new recruits for organisations. Research has shown that over a third of new starters have had a negative onboarding experience. For 12%, this led to them giving up on the process altogether. With companies spending on average over £3,000 and taking 52 days to fill an open position, a high candidate renege rate can add up to a costly problem.
This is why better onboarding should be a key priority for all organisations. Our experience has shown us that digital tech can be a great aid to the process of integrating new employees onto teams. A variety of tools are now available that can perform different engagement, education or communication tasks, as well as the compliance/process elements of onboarding. These tools are reducing the workload of busy resourcing teams while improving the experience for new employees.
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As mentioned above, the onboarding stage is a key point when potential employees can lose interest in the recruitment process, so it’s important to keep the stream of communication up and maintain enthusiasm levels. One of the most useful and engaging digital mediums for doing this is live video streaming.
One possibility could be an organisation sending new starters a link to a site where they can watch the CEO live streaming a welcome message to them. Or members of the team that the new person will be working with could host a video familiarising the employee with the office and any other facilities that they’ll be using. This is particularly helpful when recruiting a whole new cohort of team members as it becomes easier to justify the cost.
Live group chat is another technique that we’ve seen work really well for onboarding, particularly in terms of linking new recruits with current employees. Having one or more employee host a live chat session online and take questions from new people is a great way for them to get a feel for the workplace and make connections that will help them navigate their early weeks and months on the job. Allowing continued peer connection in this way makes the onboarding experience far more authentic and convincing for new recruits.
For the more practical aspects of getting a new employee ready to begin their job, chatbots can be extremely effective. They can be programmed to answer any common questions, as well as liaise with new recruits to arrange things like phones, computers, desks, and training, plus all the paperwork that goes with joining a new company. Imagine how much time this could save an organisation, allowing recruiters to focus on other immediate issues.
Keep tabs on the dialogue
These digital tools are demonstrably useful at raising the engagement and motivation levels of new employees. They deliver high impact with minimal effort – busy recruitment teams can co-ordinate activity from their desks – and allow organisations to create a ‘green room’ style onboarding experience.
But they also offer hidden short-term benefits for employers. If someone isn’t interacting with onboarding content ahead of their start date it may provide an indication that they are considering not taking the job, giving the recruitment team an opportunity to get in touch and persuade them to stay on board.
Of course, it’s important to gauge the right quantity and style of any content sent to an employee before their first day – non engagement might be just because they feel bombarded with messages. The ideal is to regard this activity as the start of a two-way communication with a new employee, inviting interaction and regular feedback.
Digital technology for onboarding isn’t about dehumanising contact between employee and employer – it’s actually about using the tech to facilitate better human-workplace relationships right from the start of employment. We believe that digital tools, used strategically and creatively, can lift the quality of onboarding so that it has a high net positive effect on subsequent employee loyalty. With the best employees harder than ever to find and retain, who wouldn’t want that?