Glossary of Terms

Looking to brush up on all the latest HR acronyms, buzzwords, and common terms? This glossary is for you, sort of like the ABCs of HR. It's everything you need to know in the realm of employee experience and human connection, defined in easy-to-understand language.

 

We'll continue to add more terms and phrases to this glossary so it's as comprehensive as possible for your learning!

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What Is Onboarding Software?

Few stages of the employee journey get under-valued more than onboarding. The good news is that onboarding offers a powerful opportunity to revolutionize the employee experience. Onboarding software will play a big role in that transformation.

A new hire’s first few months in an organization should help them connect with the organization’s mission and purpose, as well as their manager and colleagues. These connections determine whether an employee stays and moves forward within your company or starts looking for another organization.

Those connections are more important than most people realize. Nearly all (94%) of the employees we surveyed for our Guide to Building Human Connection at Work report agree that they’re more productive when they feel connected to their colleagues. Our research also found that employees who felt connected were more than four times as likely to say they were very satisfied with their jobs. They were 50% less likely to leave within the next 12 months. Of those who felt disconnected at work, however, 9% said that a poor onboarding experience was a big factor.

Discover what onboarding software is, what it can do to transform your onboarding experience, and how to choose software that encourages long-term relationships with your people.

Employee Onboarding Software 101

Employee onboarding software is a tool for streamlining the onboarding process to bring new hires into the organization smoothly while meeting compliance. Onboarding software supports consistent workflows, making the process easier to monitor and manage.

Some onboarding programs may be included within your existing HR software. For example, applicant tracking systems (ATS) might include options for sending paperwork to new hires, collecting their signed documents, and integrating them into your standard workflow. But most built-in tools are bare-bones and don’t leave much room for HR teams to customize the onboarding experience.

The more common type of onboarding program is a standalone software solution that you can integrate with your larger HR platform. These tend to be full-service solutions that you can customize to meet your people’s unique needs. Employee onboarding platforms require more management but can be configured to create a custom onboarding experience journey. These onboarding platforms plug into other HR software tools at the right points to pull the data you need when you need it.

4 Great Things Employee Onboarding Systems Can Do for You

The right onboarding software system can revolutionize your people’s first few months in the business. Check out the benefits this software can offer to your organization.

Drive Employee Engagement From the Get-Go

One of the biggest opportunities employers have is when they engage new employees immediately — even before their first day. Employee onboarding software can help you set the stage for a healthy and long-lasting relationship.
Instead of leading with compliance documents and forms, onboarding software empowers you to maintain compliance while putting the new hire’s experience first. Preboarding lets you get the compliance piece out of the way early, as well as logins, equipment setup, and other tasks. The first official day can then focus on helping employees learn about their new role and co-workers.
Engaging new hires early reduces their chances of ghosting you in their first few months — which can be a pretty significant problem. An engagement campaign customized to meet the needs of new hires in different roles across the company can get employees invested in the business from the start.
Fashion and lifestyle brand Hugo Boss Australia was having trouble connecting with deskless employees working in-store, leading many to stop showing up altogether. The company’s HR built out an onboarding program to reach new hires on their channel of choice (laptop, mobile, or tablet) with company updates and other meaningful content. Making this change paid off in a big way, resulting in a 77% decrease in <3 month turnover and a 75% decrease in absenteeism.
Using onboarding software to engage new hires right from the start sets employees up for success and connection, which can reduce both short- and long-term turnover.

Decrease Time to Productivity

The more information you give someone, the faster they’ll be able to do their job, right? That’s how we’ve always thought about onboarding, but it’s not necessarily true. We ask new hires to process a lot of information in a relatively short span of time, and that information overload often adds more confusion than clarity.

Onboarding software allows you to focus the onboarding process and deliver the right information at the right time to help new hires become productive faster.

That’s exactly what Compass, a real estate company, did to ease in their new hires. Compass’s onboarding coordinators designed a drip campaign that delivered pertinent information to new hires when they needed it most. Instead of reading everything about their role all at once (and, let’s be honest, not processing a lot of that info because that’s not how people learn!), new hires received information in digestible bytes that they could apply in real time.

Designing an onboarding experience that puts the person first empowers new hires to hit the ground running.

Connect Team Members With New Hires

People thrive on connection, and there’s no more important time to develop connections than onboarding. Onboarding software can introduce new hires to their teammates and colleagues in other parts of the business.

Onboarding software, for instance, can automate nudges reminding team members that they have a new co-worker starting and inviting them to send a welcome message. This software can also make it easy to build formal programs like buddy systems, which pair new hires with a more experienced colleague who acts as a guide explaining company culture and day-to-day life. Or you can build communities of people with similar interests so new hires can immediately find people they have things in common with.

You can use onboarding software to connect new hires with the right people within the company to help them get up and running in their new roles. New hires need to connect with HR to set up pay and benefits, and with IT to get the equipment they need to get going.

Perhaps most importantly, though, is establishing the core relationship between a new employee and their manager. Timely nudges remind managers to stay in touch with new hires, and can help managers develop a check-in cadence to build their relationship. Automated surveys delivered to new employees allow them to express how they’re acclimating (or not) so that managers can follow up with customized support. When every new hire has the chance to really connect with their manager, you can set the stage for long-term employee engagement.

Support an Experience-Led Onboarding Program

Onboarding is the time to introduce new hires to what makes your company great. Doing this requires more than just walking them through a slide deck of your mission, vision, and values or having them fill out important paperwork. Configurable onboarding software allows you to customize workflows, giving you more control over the employee journey. You can take employees through experiences that are meaningful, intentional, and in sync with your culture.

Targeted onboarding experiences can bring your culture to life. Something as simple as the buddy system can be powerful for connecting newbies to the heart of your culture: your people.

Your culture is often expressed through employees’ behaviors and choices. In a culture that values teamwork, for example, people are more likely to help teammates. You can drive that point home during onboarding by encouraging co-workers to reach out to the new hire. Even something as simple as giving new hires visibility into the team’s workload can help them see their role and importance.

All of these elements of experience-driven onboarding help you develop a best-in-class employer brand. New hires will feel welcomed right from the start, setting their expectations for the employee experience.

4 Steps to Choosing the Right Onboarding System for You

Software decisions are never easy, and there’s always a lot to consider. Take these steps to determine what onboarding software will get your new hires up to speed and invested in your organization.

Identify Your Main Users

Although designed by HR, onboarding programs are carried out primarily by your managers. They’re the ones responsible for executing onboarding plans and bringing employee experiences to life. You don’t want to design a great onboarding program that gets ignored because managers hate the software.

Think about what software your managers will actually use. For example, managers should be able to easily access onboarding checklists and templates from tools they’re already using every day. Asking managers to add yet another system and login creates the risk of them losing interest or feeling put out (and less engaged). The onboarding software should be simple to use, with managers assigning tasks and setting up workflows with as few clicks as possible.

The other audience to consider is, of course, your new hires. They should be able to easily view workflows to see what’s in store for them and how long the onboarding process will last. Software integration matters here, too. Delivering targeted content to the new hire’s channel of choice can help them learn about the company and their role in an engaging and interactive way.

Other key stakeholders include IT and leadership. IT plays an important part early in the onboarding workflow in helping get new hires set up with the equipment they need to get started. Your onboarding software has to make it easy for managers to send and for IT to receive and process tech requests.

Finally, don’t forget that company leaders are key in the decision-making process. They need to see the value of the software you select. Make sure that the tool you decide to implement has clear data tracking and reporting abilities in an easy-to-read dashboard.

Rethink Onboarding for the New World of Work

These days, experience is everything. But traditional onboarding wasn’t designed for the experience era. Before adding tech tools, pause. Rethink how onboarding can meet your needs today.

First, take a minute to remember past onboarding experiences, then map out your process as it is today. Traditional onboarding processes have been overwhelming and underwhelming at the same time. With a focus on compliance, we’ve bombarded new hires with paperwork and training modules. But when it comes to the aspects of onboarding that leave the biggest impression — connecting new hires with people and purpose — we’ve been absent or unfocused.

Survey your managers and recent hires to learn more about their experiences: the highs, the lows, and everything in between. They can give you powerful insights into how to rethink onboarding as an employee experience. You might find that recent hires need more communication and support from their managers, for example. To solve this problem, redesign your onboarding template to include frequent check-ins with targeted conversation prompts.

Once you have a blueprint in hand, move on to the next step in the software selection process.

Make a List of Your Must-Haves

Fend off feature fatigue by making a list of the software features you really need (as opposed to those that are just nice to have).

If you want an agile solution that can grow with your company, you definitely want to opt for a cloud-based system. The good news is that most systems today are cloud-based to support onboarding across workplace types (on-site, hybrid, remote).

A customizable workflow is a key feature in top onboarding solutions. You need the flexibility to adapt software to your processes. You don’t want to be locked into a workflow only to find that your organization’s needs have changed. Choosing a vendor with flexibility helps small businesses to scale and enterprise businesses to evolve seamlessly.

Find a system with a streamlined user interface. Onboarding can be overwhelming for the new hire and their manager, so you need onboarding tools that are intuitive and easy to use.

Of course, compliance still matters even as you build better experiences. Find solutions that can help you streamline the complexity of new hire paperwork.

Determine the features most important to you before you start looking for onboarding software, even as you remain open to new ideas. Most onboarding systems use a software-as-a-service model and include a free trial period. Take advantage of those opportunities so you can see what it would be like to commit your workforce.

Look at Your Current Tech Stack

Any systems you add to your tech stack (which is, no doubt, pretty robust) have to be able to communicate with what you’ve already got.

Onboarding software should integrate with your ATS and your general HR management software. These solutions should be able to pull new hire information from your ATS so that neither you nor the employee needs to re-input data. Onboarding software should plug into the tools you use for the basics (payroll, benefits, time) as well as more advanced solutions, like performance management or employee engagement.

The tools your team uses in the flow of work are among the most critical integrations. Your people spend a lot of their day using tools for communication and task management. If your onboarding software can’t connect with those systems, your employees won’t want to use it.

Own the Journey With Employee Onboarding Software

Traditional onboarding tools and programs were made for a workplace that doesn’t exist anymore. Yesterday’s processes focused on maintaining compliance. Today, when many of us are working from different locations, onboarding is responsible for igniting connection and preparing new hires to thrive in your workplace (and also compliance). The right employee onboarding platform encourages those connections, taking your new hires’ first experience with your company to the next level.