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6 benefits of digital onboarding


Let me throw some statistics at you: 22% of staff turnover happens in the first 45 days; three time their annual salary is the estimated cost of losing an employee in their first year; 4% of new hires quit after a disastrous first day! I could go on, but you get the picture. 

And yet, despite the heavy cost in terms of hard cash and in losing talent, too many organisations are still not taking onboarding seriously. They just don’t get it. Some don’t have any induction practices at all!

In this article, we'll look at six areas where digital onboarding has real impact:

1. Reaching far-flung employees

Digital onboarding is the most effective way – and probably the only way – organisations can get essential training and core company values to a global workforce or remote workers. For global organisations, with staff all around the world, onboarding that can be delivered via devices is accessible, effective, affordable and measurable.

The trend towards flexible working, with remote workers or freelancers, is set to continue and grow in the years ahead. Clearly, traditional onboarding isn’t going to work with them. They need to be reached with a less head office-centric onboarding experience; it needs to be more personalised to reflect their circumstances. The most crucial thing is to ensure they have a good induction. Don’t just leave them to it. That way leads to isolation and an early exit.

2. Preboarding and keeping warm

Having new starters that are virtually ‘good to go’ from day one has never been easier. Digital preboarding programmes allow them to arrive feeling confident and comfortable. They will already have an insight into the company’s culture and values and will have learnt about the priority skills. Moving some of the traditional elements of induction online makes it flexible and accessible in advance. Some organisations are now also including some fun facts about the colleagues the new joiners will be working with.  Global company Specsavers is a great case study example of where a preboarding programme had a massive impact. 

"Digital onboarding ensures consistency in training for all new joiners."

3. Consistency of message and values

Delivering a consistent onboarding experience has always been a challenge – until now. Digital onboarding ensures consistency in training for all new joiners and, crucially, in also embedding the company’s culture and values across the organisation. It might be as simple as an online ‘welcome’ video from the CEO.  An online ‘values’ induction course, taken by all new joiners before they start, can be done in a fun way using quizzes or gamification, as in the case of the Specsavers preboarding programme. It’s not just about consistency; it’s also about quality engagement that will inspire new employees.

4. Social and networks

Don’t under-estimate the importance of networking and the sense of belonging. Introducing new workers to colleagues and key contacts should be seen as an integral part of onboarding. Digital social channels such as Whatsapp groups, Slack and Skype are great for developing a sense of being part of the team. Some organisations are also introducing an online ‘green room’ where new joiners can make connections, share experiences and support each other.  It’s interesting to note that the companies who are being innovative in this way have asked staff how the induction process could work more smoothly.

5. Continuous learning

Onboarding should be seen as part of a culture of continuous learning. For some organisations, this might require a whole new outlook. They will need to change their perceptions of what onboarding is. There is no finish line with onboarding; it’s simply the start of an ongoing process. Continuous learning ensures there’s never a gap between stages of development. Learning is personalised and adaptable; progress is seamless; and staff are continually improving capability and performance. The key to this is learning reinforcement, delivered via a microlearning platform. This sophisticated learning is now possible because we have the technology. More significantly, it’s been enabled by the modern worker’s continuous learning mentality.

6. Engagement

Digital onboarding is engaging, and engagement equals inspiring, effective learning.  We know it works because we have so many case studies with real-life results that prove it. One example is at pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline Vaccines, where new recruits gained a deeper understanding of the business structure and strategy after playing a simulation game that brings the process to life. 100% of participants enjoyed the experience and 90% said it would benefit them in their job. Result!

The fact is we live in dynamic times. The workplace is undergoing rapid change. The message is clear: Learning professionals have to move with these times to ensure their organisation grows and thrives. Recruiting, retaining and developing their key assets – their employees – has never been so important. And it all begins with engaging onboarding.