HR practitioners these days are recognising the need for an overarching process to welcome a new starter into the fold. They’re talking about the process of Onboarding.
Onboarding refers to the mechanism by which new employees provide and acquire the information, skills and behaviours required to become effective organisational members. What’s not so clear is where the process begins. Whether it’s Day 1 or the moment they read a job advert, what’s not in dispute is the importance of getting it right.
Historically, every new employee knew that Day 1 was going to be about filling in forms, being introduced to everyone and generally taking care of administration. From there, paper was shuffled from one in-tray and out-tray to another until everyone who needed it had their piece of the puzzle.
As time moved on, we embraced the power and efficacy of email and the paperless office was born – as long as the email got to the correct recipient, and they actioned the task. Until the processes became a little more complex, our work more distributed and the volume of new hires increased.
The data we were gathering wasn’t exclusive to one team or area and our responsiveness to email action items just wasn’t cutting it. Most dangerously, we risked the potential nightmare of data duplication. So our IT providers offered a new methodology. From ‘in-tray’ to ‘in-box’, a new “In” word came into being. Now, we were all about “in-terfacing”. Incredible!
Interfacing meant that we could capture data at one time in one place and share it electronically with any number of other systems. Of course, there were associated issues. Data updates required new interface files, data transfers sometimes failed or we got duplicate files that weren’t the same. Dirty data was a major cause for concern, so again we needed something new.
Increasingly, the way forward seems to be offered by an integrated system strategy that uses workflow as a supporting tool. Current iterations of this type of solution involve data workflowing in real time with access to information being granted from a single source and by authorised users only. A one-stop interfaced shop where data is captured once and made available to multiple authorised users for ongoing validation and updating, across all modules of a system. It’s integration with big-picture thinking and the capacity to meet, front-on, the constant challenges presented by growth.
Such an approach is especially well suited to Onboarding and can commence as early as the moment a vacancy is identified. Smart systems can take position data to populate vacancy details and workflow it to nominated approver(s). Relevant recruitment teams can be advised that process has begun. Advertisements can be created and configured for posting across innumerable boards and social media sites with applicant data aggregated within the same system that created the vacancy. Data around education, skills, certifications and experience can be gathered and stored to enable like-for-like comparisons of applicants. With permission, applicant profiles can also be stored to form a talent pool for consideration when filling future roles.
Once a new hire is made, a whole other variety of tasks and activities need to be initiated. From contract creation and signing, to organising desks and tools of trade, system access, security passes, buddies, inductions and training. Not to mention the essentials such as banking, TFN and super details. Savvy operators are gathering this data prior to an employee even commencing; an absolute delight for payroll practitioners and a chance for new employees to start day 1 with most of the admin sorted. All thanks to the power and efficacy of integrated, workflow enabled systems. In place of the first day admin roundabout, employees can now quickly confirm they made the right choice as employers introduce them to benefits, subsidised gym memberships, health insurance options and novated leasing possibilities.
For those HR leaders already committed to using integrated workflow-enabled onboarding systems the choice of solutions varies. For some, the obvious choice is a total product offering such as ichris that enables a hire-to-retire platform. Still others prefer to integrate purpose-built onboarding software with their existing payroll solution. Few providers can do it all and the levels of workflow sophistication vary across the spectrum of possible solutions.
For those still contemplating a future that includes onboarding, the struggles associated with a loosely bundled mix of systems and paper continue. The disparate systems they need to rely on still require the resources of both payroll and HR – with mixed results and dubious efficiencies. And the impression made on new employees? You’d need to ask them – after they’ve completed the paperwork and introductions roundabout and a long way before they learn about health insurance options.
About the Author
Nick Southcombe is the Chief Executive Officer, Frontier Software.
Beginning his career in finance and accounting, Nick was drawn to information technology management and has now been in the IT industry for over 30 years. He has worked with a number of Australian companies as CIO and General Manager, and held the position of APAC Regional Head for international software vendors.
Nick joined Frontier Software as General Manager for Australia In 2007 and was recently appointed Chief Executive Officer. During his time with Frontier Software, the company has grown from 200 employees to over 320 staff in Australia and around 500 globally. Nick has overseen the diversification at Frontier Software, guiding it from being focused on software and sales support to providing a range of additional delivery and service options, including hosted/cloud solutions and full BPO services.