How to modernise onboarding to improve employee retention

Picture this. You’ve aced the final interview for the job you really wanted. The talent manager offers you the role, gives you a hearty congratulations, and tells you that someone from the HR team will be in touch shortly to arrange your contract. You’re fist-pumping excited and can’t wait to call your family and friends to tell them the fantastic news. The job starts in 30 days.

But in the following weeks you don’t hear anything from the company – your excitement is beginning to wane and you start wondering if the organisation is not quite as impressive as you first thought…

On day 20, you finally receive an envelope in the post, including an impersonal note regarding your start date, your contract and forms to read, sign or fill out, and return.

At this point, you have no idea who your colleagues will be, what you are supposed to be doing on your first day or whether a laptop has been arranged for you, and start to feel anxious about starting with a new company that you know very little about.

Why your onboarding needs to modernise

According to Edan Haddock, Talent Manager at flybuys, onboarding is one of the key steps in recruitment where organisations can damage their employer brand.

“There’s no point creating a world-class recruitment experience if it falls apart at the seams on the employee’s first day,” he says. “Authenticity is important – don’t let the experience break down once the offer has been made.”

Edan sees two main ways onboarding can be improved: through making it a shared responsibility between talent acquisition and HR, and shifting the experience from a paper-based process to a digital onboarding platform.

Recruitment vs HR

“Historically, the talent function sends out the contract paperwork, then the candidate journey is handed over to HR”, Edan says. “Recruitment stopped and HR began. But many organisations are shifting away from this to ensure that talent acquisition is involved in the whole onboarding process.

“If you’ve provided a world-class candidate experience during the hiring process, this needs to continue up to and beyond day one. Otherwise you risk undoing the work you’ve done on showcasing the organisation, and you’ll see drop-offs.”

The average company loses approximately 25% of new hires every year, with old-fashioned onboarding practises being a major contributor to this retention issue. The main issues being: clunky, paper-based processes, poor communication and management of candidate uncertainty and lack of ownership of onboarding tasks –  all resulting in a poor candidate experience.

Digitalising employee onboarding has many benefits

Boosts employee engagement

“The experience between the point of contract issuance and day one at the office should be enriching,” says Edan.

“At flybuys, those 30-or-so days are filled with ongoing and engaging communication. First of all, everything is paperless and digital. This includes the contract of employment, superannuation forms – all the standard stuff. Then every few days, the candidate will receive some new information about the company via our onboarding portal. It could be an introduction to our leadership team, a note from the marketing manager, a message from our CEO, details around our “Dress for your Day” philosophy. We’ve linked the system to Google Maps to show new candidates some of the best places around the office to have lunch or get a coffee.”

Helps internal communications

Many onboarding systems can be set up to send reminders to key personnel before the new employee’s first day. This might include a message being sent to their new manager, reminding them to give the new employee a call, or to the IT team to arrange system access.

“It just means that key tasks – even as basic as making sure they have a desk – don’t slip through the cracks in a busy office,” Edan says. “There’s nothing more discouraging than arriving for your first day at work and finding things aren’t ready for you. This undoes everything in terms of candidate experience.”

Ensures a smooth induction

“Tasks used to take a week for new starters to go through at the office, but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t do this prior to their first day by using the onboarding platform,” explains Edan. “You can set it up so the new employee has to tick a box to show they’ve seen it. It’s all optimised for mobile phones so they can do these tasks sitting on a tram if they like.”

This also creates an audit trail where the employer can see if the new starter has opened and read key messages.

“By using a solid onboarding platform, you can make sure a new employee has done their compliance and training, been introduced virtually to everyone in the workplace, and has everything they need by the time they walk into the office. Logically, they’ll be able to hit the ground running and get productive faster.”

Traditional vs digital onboarding

In a nutshell, modernising the onboarding process by using a suitable onboarding platform helps workplaces:

  • Ensure the employee remains engaged throughout the lead-up to their first day
  • Guarantee faster and more sustainable paperless communication
  • Improve talent retention through higher engagement and a smoother start
  • Complete the majority of onboarding activities before the employee starts work
  • Enable the new starter to get productive and creative faster
  • Free up time for the HR team that would otherwise be spent conducting face-to-face onboarding activities.

How to choose an onboarding platform

Like any business, or strategic decision, before settling on the right software for you, define your goals and objectives for using the platform. Consider which aspects of onboarding you want the tool to take over, then research the solutions based on the features you require.

Edan says, he chose HROnboard for flybuys, because it enabled him to create an onboarding experience that has a similar look and feel to flybuys’ interactive member app.

This helps flybuys deliver an employer brand and experience that’s consistent with the customer brand and experience. Better still, the platform is easy to use. “I was able to set it up myself without putting any strain on our technology team, and the sky’s the limit when it comes to functionality,” says Edan.

While HROnboard works for flybuys, there are other onboarding-specific platforms available to Australian and New Zealand organisations. These include EnboarderCognology OnboardingMyjobofferTalmundo, along with broader workflow platforms with onboarding functionality such as SAP SuccessFactorsWorkday, or Flowingly.

According to, a good onboarding platforms should have the following functionalities:

  • Paperless, mobile-friendly forms
  • Video introductions
  • Digital training
  • Feedback and metrics on the onboarding process
  • The ability to integrate with your existing HR software

With using an onboarding platform, the goal is to simplify, streamline and improve your process and boost the candidate experience at the same time – not make it more complicated.

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