The following article by PMG’s Claire Wiggill originally ran in HR Technologist.
Think back to your first day at your current job. Even if you knew a colleague or two, getting acclimated to the new role was no small task. Were your essential office items – access card, phone, laptop – ready when you arrived? More importantly, were you empowered to be productive from day one?
The first few days at a new job are crucial, as they set the tone for what to expect from the employee-employer relationship. Once both parties agree they are a fit for one another, it’s much easier to focus on retaining an employee, rather than finding a new one. Yet, weak or non-existent onboarding processes play a significant role in employee turnover. According to the Work Institute, 34 percent of turnover occurs among first-year employees.
High turnover isn’t only bad for company morale – it also hurts the bottom line. Gallup estimates millennial turnover alone costs $30.5 billion annually. Considering millennials have overtaken Generation X as the largest generation in the workforce, this cost will continue to rise.
Adding to the retention challenge are the many moving parts in HR departments, which error-prone, manual onboarding processes simply can’t support. And if your company neglects onboarding, chances are you’re also leaving your offboarding processes open to errors. Because HR reaches every corner of the business, automation technology – designed to take the pressure of completing rote HR tasks off of managers – is a necessity.
As departments throughout the enterprise look to innovate through technology, it’s time for HR to consider how automation can increase process efficiency. HR and IT can work together to implement automation solutions that make onboarding and offboarding seamless for employees and managers.
Automation Sets Employees and Managers Up to Thrive. Although they don’t see it, employees benefit from automation before they walk in the door.
Using a process automation solution will ensure that everything a new employee needs – from their computer and required software applications to their email account and security card – will be ready when they start work. From a single point of data entry and a few initial clicks, the entire process is orchestrated, and each department knows exactly what it needs to contribute and when.
For your new employees, knowing what to expect and when it’s going to happen is priceless. When all departments are on the same page concerning requirements for onboarding, the new hire sees an organization with its ducks in a row. Of employees who undergo a structured onboarding process, 45 percent say they have greater trust in their organization.
Automation helps you improve your onboarding processes, and in turn, improved onboarding processes deliver productivity and retention . According to CareerBuilder, 42 percent of employees are more productive when they have access to proper onboarding processes. Furthermore, when you provide new employees a more thorough onboarding process, you avoid employee frustration caused by poorly defined job duties and inadequate training – two precursors of turnover.
Automation Protects the Enterprise. Despite best-laid plans, though, the day will come when an employer and employee separate – either willingly or not. When this happens, offboarding can be a complicated process. While an employee’s direct manager may handle transition of duties to a new employee, HR is responsible for making sure the employee is unable to wreak havoc on their way out.
When it comes to offboarding, automated processes allow HR managers to quickly reset passwords and obtain keycards. Although we naturally want to expect the best from our colleagues, the statistics show employees don’t always live up to those expectations – according to Intermedia, 44 percent of tenured employees say they’d copy confidential information from their former employer if the circumstances were right.
Team Up with IT to Make Automation a Success. Automation isn’t something that should be rushed into; HR should look to IT for support and guidance before introducing automation to its onboarding and offboarding processes.
Your IT team can help you vet solutions and counsel you on the best automation platforms to use long-term. Additionally, because of their experience implementing automation tools in other departments like marketing and finance, IT can anticipate and help you troubleshoot issues in advance.
Consider the challenges two of my customers faced when their onboarding processes became too difficult to manage. In each case, and in two very different industries, IT and HR worked together to automate HR processes, improving efficiency and operational visibility. Automation also enabled these companies to deliver higher quality employee experiences and reduce labor costs.
1st Franklin Financial Corporation needed a way to simplify their onboarding process – no small task, with 250 new employees joining the bank each year. By implementing an automation solution, the team linked its Active Directory and new hire process, resulting in same-day new hire information processing.
Parsons Corporation also needed greater efficiency in their onboarding process, which took an estimated 67,500 labor hours a year. After automating on a workflow platform, Parsons has seen a 56 percent reduction in onboarding time. That’s an extra 37,500 hours to focus on more value-added tasks.
Process Automation for a Stronger Enterprise. In a vacuum, forgoing automation would merely mean extra time wasted on manual processes. But for HR departments that operate at “business as usual,” the weight of manual processes will eventually become too much to bear, if it hasn’t already.
Although some may question whether automation will decrease face-to-face interaction and fracture the employee-manager relationship, the result is actually quite the opposite. Manual processes have an adverse effect on employee-manager relations, consume HR personnel schedules and leave the company open to security risks . Automation does not mean removing the human touch from HR, as HR departments and managers will have more time to focus on soft skills and employee development.
Pressure from outside organizations means automation isn’t just a luxury – it’s a necessity for companies that need to compete for talent and protect their enterprise. HR departments aren’t solely responsible for finding a solution, however. It’s a dialogue they must have with the IT department. When HR communicates with the IT team – those responsible for bringing new technology into the enterprise – they lay the groundwork for more efficient processes and, ultimately, a more harmonious relationship between staff and management.
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