Electronic Onboarding: Take the Stress Out of New Hire Paperwork
Sep 7, 2023
Sep 7, 2023
As HR technology continues to advance as it has this past decade, it must be hard to pick the smartest or most efficient tool to use, right? Well, if you ask me, I will confidently answer that question with an “of course not”. You see, I’ve been on the three different sides to employee/HR management: the employee, internal HR, and the software service provider. In all three seats, there is one pain point that usually presents itself in each scenario: paperwork. Yes, the W-4, the I-9, and the direct deposit forms all need to be collected, stored, and then updated in the system, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. In a world full of compliance changes, communication gaps, and ever-changing workforce trends like remote/hybrid work schedules, the one HR tech tool that every business should rely on is electronic onboarding and recordkeeping.
Let’s dive into our top 3 reasons to go digital.
First up is employee experience. We all know that making a stellar first impression is important, but just how important is it to new team members? Research from our human capital management (HCM) partner, isolved, finds that nearly half of employees have been tempted to leave a new job due to a negative onboarding experience. Starting a new job is exciting and with great excitement comes great expectations, which normally don’t include sitting in a room filling out stacks of paperwork. Yet, why is that so many employers have yet to adopt a new electronic process? In that same study, it was found that 32% of employees said that their company doesn’t offer a modern approach to onboarding. I can distinctively remember a time when I was a new hire working for a government agency many years ago (talk about paperwork) and being sat in a room to complete forms that I had never even seen before. HR couldn’t legally walk me through completing them, so it was up to me to decipher. It took hours to complete and the next week, HR called me back to let me know that I had missed two or three sheets. I was so frustrated with the entire process! Knowing what I know now, I can only imagine how much better that experience would have been if I had a tool to complete it from my phone or computer, with helpful tips along the way. A slow and disjointed onboarding process poorly reflects an organization. A new employee is ready to hit the ground running, and the onboarding process should provide a smooth and clear runway. If you’re reading this thinking “yeah, we still hand out those stacks of paperwork”, then odds are that your new hires are wondering which century their new employer is operating in, too.
Next, let’s dive into process and efficiency. I could go on and on about the impacts an efficient and engaging process has on employees, but it’s the employers or the HR managers that continuously feel the relief of ditching filing cabinets worth of employee files and paperwork, really. The reality is that most small businesses don’t have a dedicated HR person (I see you business owners champing this task) and those that do have HR professionals wearing multiple hats. When we stop and think about the time taken up when new hires are onboarded, we know that it doesn’t just stop there. With a pen and paper process, you then have follow-up time commitments to filing the paperwork away and then updating it in your payroll system. In a worst-case scenario, I’ve seen instances where the W-4 information was logged incorrectly. When the employee came back the following year to question the results of their tax filing, it was found that it was entered incorrectly. While ultimately it is the employee’s responsibility to review their tax deductions, that liability does fall on HR to ensure that it is set up correctly. Not doing so could lead to time wasted for both parties and potentially turnover of that employee if there is that much dissatisfaction. With electronic onboarding and recordkeeping, that data flows right into the payroll system, ensuring that the data is correct and that you get the time back on your calendar to be more productive and focus on things that matter, such as recruiting and engagement.
Finally, one of the most important reasons to go paperless is storage and compliance. From a compliance standpoint, you must make sure that you know the federal and state regulations for keeping such documents (helpful hint – Form I-9 is three years and form W-4 is four years). With such regulations, I’d be willing to bet that many employers simply leave the entire filing cabinet in-tact so that they don’t have to worry about being out of compliance. I’ve worked with one business who had a new HR team member join the ranks to take over day-to-day duties. She went on and on about how overwhelming the files of paperwork was and there was so much negative energy for her coming into the outdated process. It wasn’t until she was able to rid their organization and move the documents to be stored electronically that she felt relief. From performance reviews to WOTC forms to medical documents, she can rest easy knowing that everything is stored securely and in a compliant manner. Sure, this was no small feat, but doing so potentially saved that business from costly mistakes of doing things the “old fashioned” way.
All in all, change is hard and letting go of control can be even harder, which is normally what I hear from businesses who’ve yet to join the 21st century for their HR tech and processes. I don’t discount that there are still some individuals who prefer to hand fill out paperwork, just like some people still want a paper check. The trick to a successful onboarding experience is not always a one-size-fits-all approach. The trick is to figure out what works best for your organization and your employees. Remember that new hires are excited to join your team and you should do what you can to meet their excitement with a modern and streamlined experience that will empower them to make an impact on your organization. Who says that onboarding has to be painful, anyway? The shift isn’t just about moving to tech to support you, it is about moving your focus on your people and your time.
At HireLevel, we can help you you fully optimize the way you handle new hire paperwork by eliminating it!