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Automating Employee Onboarding: Unlocking Faster Business Outcomes

CHROs are charged with optimizing the employee experience as the business digitally transforms to speed up its ability to deliver fluid, connected experiences that drive revenue. The faster and more streamlined you recruit and onboard, the faster you ramp up new hire productivity and drive business impact. Like part of a well-designed machine, HR is core to setting the stage for connected experiences that inspire employees to deliver on customer experience.

Automating the employee recruitment and onboarding experience is the critical first step to achieving this business imperative.

Enterprises are embracing automation as the next wave of digital transformation. And HR can take the lead in demonstrating how automating the employee experience helps attract, hire, onboard, and retain the best talent, delivering improved business outcomes, cutting costs, and optimizing the agility and speed enterprises need to compete. While most businesses have pockets of automation happening across the organization, for HR, the place to begin is in employee recruitment and onboarding.

Easier said than done

It’s no secret that many organizations still have a painful disconnect between the vision of connected experiences and what an employee actually feels day-to-day. Candidates often have to fill out cumbersome applications, get impersonal auto-responses, and undergo scheduling hassles for interviews. Personal information has to be presented repeatedly.

Once an offer is agreed upon, it needs to be signed, and background checks run, the new hire gets added to the HCM system, finance must add them to payroll, IT needs to provision hardware and permissions, training needs to schedule sessions, and so forth. Different departments use multiple systems and processes to interact with and engage the new hire — and this leaves room for unintended mistakes, lack of coordination, disjointed communication, and far too often a rather bumpy entry into the organization. Hiring managers and new employees feel the added strain right when both are worried about making a good and lasting first impression. And, a poorly experienced onboarding delays the time it takes an employee to get up to speed and feel confident in their ability to execute.

To counter this, many organizations are busy mapping the employee onboarding journey. They identify all the touchpoints an employee experiences to eliminate friction where possible. Again, this involves multiple systems and managers; for example, you might use Jobvite for recruiting, ADP for payroll, Workday for benefits, ServiceNow for laptop provisioning, and Okta for access rights. Each system is vital to the process but leaves gaps for manual errors if these applications are not integrated. Mapping reveals the trouble points and areas to improve, but it cannot create the connective tissue needed to truly drive a seamless, fast onboarding experience that gets employees productive as soon as possible.

Automation can.

Automating the onboarding experience

Automation draws on machine learning and AI to perform tasks faster and more accurately than humans can do alone. It is not intended to replace human interaction, but instead to enhance people’s ability to perform work faster and better, with fewer errors, and in a predictable workflow. While each company is unique, with its own HR systems and processes, once they’re established, the resulting workflows tend to follow similar, repeatable paths for each new candidate or incoming employee — making the process ripe for automation.

For onboarding, this includes integrating the apps (i.e., ADP, Workday, ServiceNow, Okta, etc.) that are needed in the process in a way that gets the technology out of the way and delivers a consistent, connected experience for the new hire. Manual, redundant data entry is eliminated, and when the applications can “talk” to each other, key data gets communicated from one to another with subsequent actions automatically triggered. For example, data entered in Workday is automatically transferred to ADP, ServiceNow, and Okta, with programmed next steps and actions, without admins having to re-enter it or emails needed to be sent to different team members.

New hires can be led through the onboarding process with a series of orchestrated communications, auto-scheduling, and step-by-step guidance with the right information presented at the right time. Essential data gets stored securely in one place, so that employee manuals, benefits information, and policies are easily accessible. What’s more, with connected systems and data, HR teams have a holistic view of where the employee is in their journey and can step in as needed to ensure the experience stays on track.

As a result, errors and miscommunication are greatly reduced, and the new hire and hiring manager can rely on a consistent, predictable onboarding process that weaves together all the required parts from each department. Smoother, faster, and with far less stress.

To do this well, though, you must automate the integration process.

Can’t IT just integrate them all?

Historically, IT has used APIs and manual coding to integrate applications when a request is made from a line of business. This type of integration requires, on average, six months to complete. These integrations allow applications to share data, automate process flows, and enable users to feel as if they are using one system, rather than separate ones — giving HR a holistic view of the employee journey. But manual integration processes are too slow to keep pace with how quickly software updates, and they require IT to continually monitor and update the integrations. The user experience can quickly turn frustrating when things don’t work as they should. Manual integration will eventually connect different systems, but not at the speed required to truly meet the needs of modern enterprises — or the expectations of today’s data-driven employees.

Automating integration means you take manual coding out of the process, and let intelligent software automate highly repetitive and low-level tasks while guiding the user to build fast, quality connectivity between apps and systems. In fact, with built-in AI support, modern Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) solutions enable non-technical business users to create integrations between key applications — giving HR the power it needs to automate the employee experience without having to wait for IT. These integrations update automatically and require little maintenance. It’s akin to hiring a web designer to create a custom website for you – coded line by line — versus using a templated web design platform that lets you easily pick and choose preconfigured elements without you having to know code. Faster, easier, and delivers always-updated results.

Where to start?

The first step towards automating HR processes is identifying the workflows that are slow, broken, or most susceptible to human error. From here, integration and automation can be applied with a few simple steps, improving not only the employee onboarding process but also other journeys where HR intersects with other departments – for example, how the effectiveness of the employee onboarding process impacts the broader customer experience?

Here are a few steps that businesses can take to kick-start automation:

  1. Communicate your goals and plans – a simple first step but an important one. Ensuring that objectives and plans are clear, not only in the HR department but also business-wide, is key to kick-starting a holistic automation process, ensuring that all lines of business and their processes can benefit.
  2. Assess your data and application landscape – before any new tech is procured or implemented, inventory the systems you have and identify any gaps in your processes. Also, what are your team’s strengths or weaknesses, and are their skills aligned with the SaaS and on-premises technologies you have or will get?
  3. Build the right tech stack – rationalize your systems where possible, prioritizing applications that best suit your needs for recruiting, benefits, payroll, etc. Without the right tools in place, as well as a powerful integration platform, dreams of automation can never become a reality.
  4. Integrate and automate – when all of the right systems and tools have been put in place, businesses can start to integrate them together — from on-premises databases or ERP systems to new cloud applications to data warehouses and analytic tools — ensuring process flows are seamless, fast, and automated. Adopting a low-code, self-service integration platform means HR can do this themselves with little IT assistance.
  5. Monitor, measure, improve – from here, it’s a matter of keeping a close eye on your data landscape and process automations, making changes and improvements to align with HR’s evolving needs. Cloud-based and AI-enabled platforms give you the ability to monitor, measure, and improve your automations in real-time, ensuring nothing interrupts a productive, positive employee experience.

Automate integration to deliver a seamless onboarding experience

The faster you can integrate your data and applications — without having to wait for IT alone to do it — the faster you can create a connected employee experience. The result: your employees are freed up to get on with the strategic, rewarding work they were hired to do, and your HR department saves time and money, reduces errors and redundant work, and is data-driven. Employees are confident that they’ve chosen the best place to work, and the business sees results and outcomes faster.

Automation is the next wave of digital transformation. HR can start now.

Brad Drysdale

Brad Drysdale is the field CTO at SnapLogic


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