A great employee onboarding process can improve new hire retention by 82 percent and productivity by over 70 percent. On the flip side, a negative onboarding experience results in new hires being twice as likely to look for other opportunities. 

Strategic HR teams understand the importance of a strong employee onboarding process, but may lack the headcount to do so. HR teams may be running leaner after recent workforce reductions, or companies may be scaling rapidly as they thaw hiring freezes or scale to meet increased demand.

If your team is struggling to keep up with employee onboarding due to a lower HR headcount, here are a few ways you can accomplish more with fewer resources.

1. Onboard employees in groups

Rather than onboarding employees individually, group several new hires together. Consider which aspects of your employee onboarding process can be done in a group setting. For example, office tours, benefits explanations, and a review of your company history, mission, vision, and values. Moderating these activities just once every week or two can save your team a significant amount of time. 

Group onboarding is also a great way for employees to build early relationships with other people at your company who are in a similar life cycle stage. Early on, they may discuss things like benefits selections, but those early connections can lead to long-term, cross-functional relationships within your organization. 

2. Automate what you can

Many employee onboarding tasks can be automated with a little foresight and the right People Operations Platform. For instance, you could make a video tutorial for each of your internal tools, so employees can learn how you use them and reference the videos again later. After adding the videos as tasks in your onboarding workflow, your platform may be able to assign those tasks to new employees and send follow-up reminders if they’re not completed.

Great software can also sync the various systems in your HR tech stack, auto-provision accounts to new hires, and remind your IT department to complete their assigned onboarding tasks.

3. Rope in people from other departments

While HR drives the employee onboarding process, people from other departments can—and should—help execute it. Rope in your hiring managers to ensure they’re extending a warm welcome to their new reports. This should include frequent check-ins, goal setting, and performance development. Some training can be useful to help managers understand the importance of great onboarding, and how to do it correctly.

Some organizations even assign a work buddy for each new hire, to help them learn the ropes and acclimate. This is useful for quick questions that come up. For instance, “What’s the best local coffee shop,” or “How do I get IT support while working from home?”

4. Build a repeatable employee onboarding process

A strong employee onboarding process will only matter if it’s repeatable. Trim the fat to make sure you can apply it for all new hires, while also ensuring an engaging new hire experience. A great way to do this is to collect feedback from new hires during the onboarding process. Find out what’s working, what’s not, and where you can improve. 

As you find nuances in the way different kinds of employees are onboarded, clone your process and document those differences. For instance, remote employees will need you to procure and send office equipment ahead of their start date, while office-based employees will need a desk set up. A well-documented process will ensure that it’s applied consistently, giving each new employee the red carpet experience.

Final thoughts 

Employee onboarding is a crucial HR process that must not be overlooked. Particularly if you’re running with a lean team, you need each employee to reach productivity quickly, go above and beyond in their work, and stay at your company long-term. A strong employee onboarding process can help with all of that. Consolidate, automate, delegate, and streamline where you can, so you can maintain a strong employee onboarding process—even with lower headcount.

The right technology can help. See how OnDeck cut their time spent on onboarding tasks from 5 hours to 30 minutes per new hire.


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How to Maintain a Strong Employee Onboarding Process with Lower HR Headcount