The Case for Experience-Driven Onboarding Building the business case for technology-driven, human-centric onboarding


So the right person for the job has signed the Letter of Offer. Cue sighs of relief.

But that's not the end of the story. Not by a long shot.

Unfortunately this is all too often how the rest of the story plays out:

After a few weeks of silence, punctuated only by some terse emails with requests for paperwork, the new employee comes in to their first day at work. After getting lost a few times, they end up at an empty desk, with an unprepared manager, wondering if they should have taken up the other job offer.

The experience after this first day isn’t much better: following a cursory training period, the new employee ceases to receive much in the way of support or meaningful communication from the organization.

The contrast between their expectations as a candidate and their experience as an employee is particularly demotivating, and this undermines their confidence, morale, sense of engagement, and long-term outlook at the Company.

The conclusion is as you’d expect. The new employee moves on.

All at considerable expense to the company.


But how is this story related to building a business case for Experience-Driven Onboarding? (And really, what do we mean by Experience-Driven Onboarding?

If there's one key takeaway you should have after this, it's that technology, automation, digitization and de-papering your onboarding may help make your processes more efficient. But there's no point if the processes themselves are broken.

Here's the what, and the why, of Experience-Driven Onboarding – technology should be used to improve employee engagement, reduce turnover, and yield real, measurable productivity and profitability improvements for the business.

The Obvious Savings: Using Technology To Save Time and Money During Onboarding

But let’s start with the most obvious reasons for adopting Experience-Driven Onboarding platforms: the direct time and cost savings associated with the onboarding process.

Paperless onboarding

The process of onboarding a new employee requires a load of documentation that needs to be passed back and forth between the new hire and your organization. Think of how much time the HR department takes to send out the paperwork via snail mail, then following up to ensure it is returned and properly filed away.

With modern employee onboarding software now integrated with paperless secure documentation platforms like Adobe Sign, DocuSign, Hellosign and Secured Signing, it’s easy to deal with these documentation compliance issues digitally. You can even automate reminders to the new hire to complete their paperwork, reducing the time HR has to dedicate to follow-up tasks.

Save time with integration, automation and personalization

Another major time and cost saving can be found in automating repetitive processes. Think about how much time HR spends on repetitive tasks, like sending a welcome note and pack, reminding managers and IT to start provisioning, or sending the new employee a set of instructions and directions for their first day.

Employee onboarding software with workflow and scheduling capabilities can automate these repetitive tasks. This not only frees up HR resources, but also ensures these key tasks are taken care of, at the right time, every time.

Most onboarding software today is integrated with your existing HR system, so by simply entering the details of a new recruit into your HRIS, you can trigger the appropriate onboarding workflow for their role, with tasks triggered in accordance with their start date, and all communications personalized with their name, contact details and assigned manager.

Quickly ramp from onboarding to productivity

By using employee onboarding technology to ensure consistent onboarding processes where everything is taken care of in a just-in-time basis, new employees can arrive on day one with all their equipment and system logins ready for them, so they can focus on getting up to speed without unnecessary delays.

Onboarding software is also great at decreasing the time for new employees to become productive, by accelerating their learning of company protocols, procedures, and systems. It also offers superior reporting and analytics to help quantify the impact of the “soft” human elements of your onboarding processes on your profitability.

Consistent onboarding during rapid growth

If your organisation is experiencing considerable growth, and putting down roots in remote or overseas locations, it can be a challenge to ensure a consistent and coherent onboarding process for new hires or remote hires who you cannot meet in person.

Take into account how much time and cost is involved in onboarding and provisioning overseas or interstate employees. Is inconsistent onboarding or miscommunications causing inefficiencies in the business?

In this case, the automation, personalization and paperless capabilities that onboarding software offers become indispensable.

Used in conjunction with collaborative digital platforms like Asana, Dropbox, DocuSign and Trello, you’ll be able to quickly and cost-effectively execute all the processes and documentation tasks associated with onboarding, even if the new employee is halfway across the world.

Onboarding software also adds visibility and accountability to previously “unmeasurable” metrics like employee engagement. By applying digital smarts to onboarding, you and your managers can see, for example, if a new hire is actually opening and reading your communications, or if a manager has actioned certain onboarding tasks, and receive alerts when either manager or employee engagement levels are below a certain threshold.

Empower managers to own onboarding

For managers, onboarding a new hire can often be a daunting process, with a lot of moving parts and unfamiliar procedures that are piled on top of their already busy workday.

The result? Having to divert effort and resources away from their normal work in order to take care of onboarding, forgotten tasks, or simply not bothering with onboarding – all of which directly impact productivity metrics.

The right technology breaks the onboarding process into bite-sized chunks, helping to coach managers through each employee’s onboarding journey.

It automates all of the painful administrative aspects, so managers are able to focus on engaging with the new hire, and provide an awesome, human, onboarding experience, without adding more work to their day.

For example, the technology can:

  • intelligently nudge managers of outstanding onboarding tasks they need to do;
  • provide managers with pre-populated personalised welcome messages they can send to new hires to kickstart their new manager-employee relationship;
  • automatically create calendar invitations for key onboarding events like welcome lunches welcoming new team members, probation reviews, one-on-one catch up meetings, and more;
  • offer reminders and advice delivered to the managers mobile, especially during the critical early days of an employee’s onboarding period

Experience-Driven Onboarding Reduces Employee Turnover

Early impressions matter.

“86% of new hires make a decision how long they will stay with a company in the first six months” - Aberdeen Group

Separately, research shows up to 20% of turnover happens within the first 45 days of employment.

The Timeframe an Employee Makes a Decision to Stay at a Company. Source: Aberdeen Group - Onboarding Benchmarking Report August 2006

The risk of turnover is even more pronounced today, because many companies engage in Employment Branding exercises to attract talent during the recruitment process.

Any mismatch between the candidate’s expectations, formed during recruitment, and the reality of working at a company, can cause them to become disengaged and may significantly shorten their stay.

Because onboarding acts as the bridge between the highly-engaged recruitment stage and also directly shapes the first experiences of an employee at a company, effective onboarding processes directly influence business success and growth by minimising employee attrition and turnover, particularly during those early stages.

When building your business case, be sure to quantify the cost of employee turnover for your organization, and how much of this cost can be attributed to onboarding failures.

The Cost of Employee Turnover

You may have heard of the concept of the employee economy. Well sourced, correctly placed, appropriately trained employees have genuine value.

The longer an employee stays with the organization, the more value they are to the organization. However, if failures in onboarding cause the employee to cut short their time with a business, the investment made in ramping them up towards full productivity is lost.

When calculating the cost of employee turnover, be sure to factor in both the direct and indirect costs.

Direct Costs of Turnover

Separation costs:

  • remuneration for time to conduct exit interviews
  • termination payouts
  • leave entitlements

Replacement costs

  • fees for advertising or recruitment agency
  • remuneration for time spent conducting interviews
  • fees for employment testing

Training costs

  • remuneration of employees involved in induction processes and on-the-job training
  • certification fees

Indirect Costs of Turnover

Time to replace a hire:

  • Typically, it takes 8-12 weeks to replace a knowledge worker. In the meantime, the slack has to be picked up by other members of the team.
  • Ramping up a new staff member to full productivity takes a month or two
  • Companies are taking longer to fill positions, up from 48 days in 2011 to 52 days

Time to train a new hire:

  • A smart CEO will put the best people in charge of training a new hire, which impacts on the production capacity of (often) the most efficient staff members
  • During the new hire’s first 3 months, those hidden labour costs can quickly add up to tens of thousands of dollars

Lost productivity and engagement:

  • Frequent turnover has a negative impact on employee morale, which may further impact customer service, productivity, and company revenue
  • In a given organisation, more than 25 percent of employees can be categorised as flight risks
  • Lost productivity from continuity issues

As a broad guidance, statistics indicate that median costs for employee replacement across a broad scope of pay levels are around 21% of the employee’s annual salary. For highest-paying executive positions, this can go up to 213%.

How Employee Experience Impacts The Bottom Line

These days, most companies strive to take care of their customers. They tend to appreciate the direct correlation between customer experience and their bottom line.

Less appreciated, however, is the impact of positive employee experience on that final profit figure. In fact, many companies not only fail to understand this aspect of company performance, they neglect it entirely.

But the research is in: employee experience moves the needle on a whole range of metrics that directly impact the bottom line. People who are engaged actively with their work and work culture are less likely to take days off, are more committed to their work, and as a result, see improvements in safety, shrinkage and defect outcomes.

The result? Improved productivity, sales and profitability.

According to Gallup, when comparing the top 25% of business units with the best employee engagement with those at the bottom, the better engaged players exhibited improvements in the following areas:

How the Right Onboarding Software Turbo-Boosts EX (And Thus The Bottom Line)

Truly effective, best-in-class onboarding solutions enable an extended experience-driven onboarding journey. The result? Your new people are much more engaged, from the moment they sign their letter of offer, through to their performance review 6 months after day one. This positive employee engagement can improve productivity as much as 17%, and profitability by as much as 21%.

An online survey conducted within the U.S. by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder reported that employers using a structured onboarding program benefit from:

Separately, Aberdeen Group found that when comparing “Best in Class” organisations who have invested in strategic onboarding technology versus those with no such technology, the former show a clear advantage for key results of first year retention, first year performance milestones, and hiring manager satisfaction (year-over-year).

It’s safe to say that experience-driven onboarding, as facilitated by employee onboarding software, is not only beneficial, but remarkably effective, and has proven results on a company’s bottom line.

How Investments in EX Keep on Giving

The effect of experience-driven onboarding solutions translates not just to better-engaged people, but also trickles down to customer experience.

For instance:

  • Research from Blake Morgan notes that “Companies with highly engaged employees outperform their competitors by 147%”, and that “Companies that excel at customer experience have 1.5 times more engaged employees than companies with poor customer experience”.
  • Australian business transformation consultancy Maximus observes that, “In the experience economy, happy staff make for happy customers, and happy customers lead to higher brand loyalty, more sales and bigger profits. Share earnings for companies with highly-engaged employees are nearly 150% higher than for other companies.”

To sum up this way of thinking, Marriott International founder J.W. Marriott once said,

“Take care of your associates and they’ll take care of your customers.”

Mr Marriott knew what he was talking about. With a thriving culture focused on delivering positive employee experiences, Marriott International has been repeatedly rated as a great place to work, and, as a result, is a provider of consistently superb customer experiences.

Experience-Driven Onboarding: your Competitive Edge in the Talent War

As an organization, getting the right people is key to future scalability and competitiveness. But with many sectors now experiencing talent shortage, the war for talent is heating up.

Research from Performance Development Group (PDG) links a great onboarding experience with attracting and retaining talent, especially for millenials:

“How do you attract, onboard, and retain the best, most talented millennials? It all starts with your Employment Brand, how the outside world perceives you as a corporate employer. . . . Onboarding drives your Employment Brand, impacts first impressions of your company, and can drive job satisfaction.”

Of course, as PDG notes, that’s only the first part of the equation:

“Getting them in the door is just the first challenge. Now you’ve got them, how do you keep them? You need an effective onboarding system, one that highlights the way in which your company values your team members. By doing so, you create a positive impression, and a successful employment brand, which will entice future employee prospects to make that same journey.”

Truly talented employees are often spoiled for choice when it comes to selecting an organisation that suits their career goals, their personal preferences, and their desired employee experience.

Considering that only 12% of employees strongly agree that their organization does a great job of onboarding new employees, deploying onboarding technology dedicated to delivering that experience will be one of the factors that will allow your company rise above the pack in terms of attracting the talent you really want.

Building a Relevant Experience-Driven Onboarding Journey for Today’s Talent

So how exactly do you use technology to create an Experience-Driven Onboarding journey that is both relevant and attractive to new hires, such that it contributes to your Employment Branding?

The key is relevance. Today’s workplace is a diverse mix of Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millenials and Gen Z. This means it is important to deliver personalized onboarding experiences via channels that your new employees are already using.

For instance, the modern employee is increasingly mobile-first in their approach to communications, and often prefers to consume short, snappy content delivered in skimmable form.

Additionally, if your company employs a geographically dispersed workforce, you may need to personalise onboarding communications in line with local cultural norms.

The right onboarding software has the logic and communications channels in place to deliver communications in the correct channels for any employee type and according to job role, team, region, and even individual preferences, all without requiring a heap of manual work.

Why Experience-Driven Onboarding Matters

The research is in: there is a direct correlation between the quality of onboarding processes, and employee productivity and turnover outcomes.

Onboarding technology promises substantial time and cost savings in the streamlining of existing onboarding processes and helping both new employees and their hiring managers improve their productivity.

But factor in its impacts on employee turnover, employee engagement, talent acquisition and competitive advantage, and the case for onboarding software becomes self evident.

If you are a HR leader who aspires to create consistently engaging onboarding experiences, we can help.

Enboarder automates manual processes, coaches and empowers business managers, and easily provides scalable, personalised onboarding experiences for all new hires.

Book a demo now to see how easily Enboarder can help you build an outstanding onboarding experience.