Onboarding Solutions Buyers Guide

Not All Onboarding Solutions Are the Same

In the process of evaluating onboarding solutions for your organization? Or perhaps you’re currently using something today to automate your forms and do a bit of workflow management, but you think onboarding technology should do more. Or maybe your management team has said, “hey look at this onboarding module! It’s free. Why can’t we use that?” And you think some things are too good to be true, that you get what you pay for.

We are here to help. First, onboarding solutions aren’t just about forms and workflows. Onboarding is first and foremost about talent retention. You do not hire to put people on payroll systems, you hire to keep talent, develop talent, and energize talent to produce good things for your business.

Second, you will want to evaluate any onboarding solution across three elements:

  1. FORMS MANAGEMENT – Deploy eForms with pre-populated data and electronic signatures drive efficiency and accuracy
  2. WORKFLOW AUTOMATION – Deliver personalized and contextual content to the right people at the right time
  3. ENGAGEMENT – Connect new hires to mentors, buddies, and cross-functional departments to drive engagement and acculturation

We have designed this like an iceberg because forms and workflow are really the very tip of onboarding a new hire. They are truly just the basics.

Key elements of an Onboarding Solution

Most onboarding solutions you consider will do some basic things well. But most will never do all three – especially the ”retention things” – very well. Because retention is not about forms or workflows. Retention comes from engagement. Engagement is hard. To make engagement deliver employee retention, engagement activities need to be intentional, they need to be personalized, and they must be supported with content that’s delivered at the right time.

That’s why most onboarding solutions look at workflow as transactional. Not engagement focused.


How Mature is Your Onboarding Solution?

Onboarding Maturity Continuum Graph
Stage 1: Basic
Basic design and programming, “fire-hose” approach to content delivery, measurement limited to ad hoc feedback collected during or after orientation

Stage 2: Emerging
Emerging design and programming, some content delivered before day 1, measurement includes a standard new hire survey likely within the first 90 days

Stage 3: Progressing
Progressing design and programming, more content delivered in a distributed fashion, onboarding-specific metrics tracked at multiple points in time

Stage 4: Advanced
Advanced programming and design reflective of onboarding margin pillars and phases, some content deferred for when new hires have context, surveys of key roles used to assess program impact

Stage 5: World-Class
World-class programming and design that reflects all onboarding margin pillars and phases, new hires have context have sufficient context before receiving context, some predictive measurement of program impact on business objectives


Data First vs People First

Many onboarding solutions vendors look at onboarding technology as a way “to get data from the new hire and into the system of record.” We call that the “data first” approach to onboarding. That view does not provide engagement. When you look at onboarding from an employee point of view, you see that the forms – and who gets the forms and the systems that receive the data are the last things they care about. What they care about are the things that will make them productive and contributing and ultimately successful employees as soon as possible. You probably think about onboarding in the same way.

Data First

Takes an HRIS system "new hire data" approach and is focused on managing transactions and getting data into key back-office systems.

  • Take a data-first approach to their solutions
  • Deploy broad-but-shallow functionality across multiple business areas and modules
  • Little or no focus on enabling employee engagement (the heart of talent retention)
  • More short-term – first 30 days or so

People First

Takes a strategic "onboarding as engagement" approach and is focused on employee engagement and connecting people to business results.

  • SilkRoad delivers all three essential components of onboarding: Forms, Workflow, and Engagement
  • SilkRoad has over 1,000 onboarding customers and proven business results
  • SilkRoad offers well-established industry expertise and thought leadership
  • Longer term approach – 90 days to first year of “firsts”