Onboarding Solutions Buyers Guide

Not All Onboarding Solutions Are the Same

Are you in the process of evaluating onboarding solutions for your organization? Or perhaps you are currently using something today to automate your forms and do a bit of workflow management, but you think onboarding technology should do more.

We are here to help. First, onboarding solutions are not just about forms and workflows. Onboarding is first and foremost about talent engagement. You do not hire to put people on payroll systems, you hire to retain, develop, and energize talent to produce good things for your business. You will want to evaluate any onboarding solution across three elements:

  1. ONLINE FORMS MANAGEMENT – Deploy eForms with pre-populated data and electronic signatures to drive efficiency and accuracy
  2. PERSONALIZED 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

Key elements of an Onboarding Solution Most onboarding solutions will do some basic things well. But most will never do all three – especially the ”retention things” – very well. 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 is delivered at the right time. That is 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; some electronic forms and some manual forms

Stage 2: Progressing
Emerging design and programming; some content delivered before day 1; measurement may include a standard new hire survey; electronic forms; some automated workflow

Stage 3: Advanced
Progressing design and programming; more diverse content delivered in a distributed fashion via personalized workflow automation; onboarding-specific metrics tracked at multiple points in time

Stage 4: Strategic
Advanced programming and design covering all engagement content areas (culture, strategy, networking, career support, and training); 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 engagement content areas delivered through various methods at the right time in the journey; robust program measurement aligned to 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. However, when you look at onboarding from an employee point of view, you see that the forms are the last things employees care about. What they care about are the things that will make them productive, contributing and ultimately successful employees as soon as possible.

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, Personalized Workflow, and Engagement
  • SilkRoad onboards more than 10 million employees annually for clients on a global basis
  • SilkRoad offers well-established industry expertise and thought leadership
  • Longer term approach – extends through 90 days to first year of “firsts”