Automated New-Hire Orientation: Where HR and Video Fit In

Ben Renner | | Employee Benefits Communication

new-hire orientationNew-hire orientation is a difficult process to do well. HR teams working on employee onboarding initiatives, especially in a time when new generations of workers are entering the office and bringing different attitudes and values with them, must set employees up for success as efficiently as possible, or these new, talented workers could be out the door. How can technology like online portals for new employees make new-hire orientation quicker and more fun for everyone?

When you hire a new employee, you’re investing in them, whether they work well for your company or not. You have to commit, to a certain extent, before you know what you’re getting. Interviews, screenings, tests, surveys, questionnaires, and background checks are all ways to mitigate this basic investment risk. But when your new hire signs on the dotted line, you won’t know for sure how successful your hiring process for weeks or even months.

Why Is New-Hire Orientation Important?

Other than screening processes, new-hire orientation is the most important tool human resources departments can use to retain new employees and set them up for success. Obviously, orientation can be very different between organizations. Some, with hundreds of new employees coming on at a time, need seminars and group presentations. But more organizations than ever before are avoiding lecture halls and attempting to streamline a process they know is tedious with better automation and more efficient technology.

Employees expect to be shepherded through the orientation process, and many of them expect some form of the rote sign-up and sign-on paperwork as part of that process. The problem with the expected, same-old orientation process is that it leaves most workers feeling disengaged. A typical new-hire orientation process solves the main problems and answers most of the questions new employees have, but doesn’t necessarily motivate them or engage them.

The fact is, new-hire orientation must be tedious to a certain degree. Much of the process is filling out paperwork so new employees get paid on time and enroll in the benefits that make sense for them. Helping these employees along the way while creating and maintaining a culture of engagement is where HR comes in. By automating some parts of the process, new employees can quickly pass through the most boring and least engaging parts of the onboarding process.

Sparking Engagement from Day One

employee onboardingOnboarding is difficult to make ‘fun’ (if you see that as a challenge, please go for it), but it can be made more efficient with a few smart applications of technology. Video communications have long been a favorite of marketers and HR professionals who want to reach large audiences with the same messaging to strengthen their brand. For HR, the ‘customers’ are the employees. If they don’t ‘buy’ the company messaging HR spreads, they become disengaged, inefficient in their work, and eventually leave, costing the company untold revenue in wasted resources and inhibited productivity.

Video is obviously a more engaging form of corporate communication. It’s something we’ve known for years. But it can easily wind up being misused. As part of new-hire orientation programs, any video needs to convey useful information quickly and unambiguously. And you have to recognize video’s limits when communicating and engaging with new employees.

Applying Automation to HR

Human resources is, by its nature (and its name) a human exercise. People need other people to help them at work, especially if they’re new to the organization and don’t know where to turn. HR is there to organize human beings while providing a safety net for each individual when they need it.

employee onboardingOf course, HR does so much more, and too many HR departments are over worked and understaffed. Part of the solution to the continuing problem of employee disengagement is blending HR technology with traditional business process technology.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is now extremely common at most medium-to-large businesses. RPA isn’t a line of robots producing car parts. Rather, it involves software bots that automate processes, such as submitting employment forms and benefits documents. Any process governed by a set of rules can be automated by this type of software.

So it stands to reason that many new-hire orientation processes can be automated, too. Automating employee information processes is the most obvious place to start, but automated systems can also be used to provide employees with decision-support tools for benefits, regular updating of employee policies, and more.

With new technology making HR processes like onboarding faster and more efficient, perhaps your organization can flip the disengagement narrative on its head.

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