Onboarding Automation: Here’s Everything You Need to Know Before Implementing It

According to Gallup, just 12% of employees believe that their organization does a great job of onboarding its new hires. 

This stat shouldn’t be taken lightly for employers, as poor onboarding experiences can negatively impact employee retention, productivity, and the employer’s reputation (which hurts their ability to recruit talent).

You can prevent bad onboarding experiences by performing onboarding automation—or the use of automation to streamline specific onboarding workflows. 

What parts of onboarding can you automate? What are the benefits of performing this type of HR automation? And how can you go about implementing it at your organization?

We’ll walk through the answers to each of these questions. That way, you’ll have all of the wisdom and practical tips you need to build an automated onboarding process!

Related: Everything you need to know about offboarding automation

3 Ways to Automate Employee Onboarding

Here are some common examples of onboarding automation:

1. Streamline pre-boarding workflows

Once an employee is marked as hired in your applicant tracking system (e.g. Greenhouse), you can kickstart their onboarding by doing the following before their first day:

  • Creating their profile in your HRIS (e.g. Workday) platform
  • Setting up their Okta user account
  • Sending an email that welcomes them 
  • Establishing their account in an IT service management system (e.g. ServiceNow), with a ticket getting created to track the new hire’s progress throughout the onboarding stages

Related: 5 ways to onboard employees who work remotely

2. Instantly provision apps and equipment

This onboarding automation requires a platform bot that can communicate between your platforms and your internal chat tool (e.g. Slack). 

Here’s how it can work: 

1. Once a candidate is checked off as hired, a platform bot messages the hiring manager via chat, asking them which apps and equipment the new hire should receive.
2. The manager makes all of their selections via chat. 
3. Based on the selections, the bot creates tickets in a platform like ServiceNow. 
4. The bot notifies the hiring manager once their requests have been completed via chat.

3. Perform “first-day” automations

Using this employee onboarding automation, you can streamline all of the necessary tasks  involved in an employee’s first day. These include:

  • Inviting them to several meetings to meet their new colleagues 
  • Giving them a badge that grants them access to the company’s facilities
  • Adding them to specific channels in your chat tool
  • Sending them a survey that asks for feedback on their first day

Related: How Workato onboards employees

Benefits of an Automated Onboarding Process

Now that you know some of the ways you can perform onboarding automation, you likely have a sense of the benefits they bring to your new hires and to the organization. In case any slips your mind, here’s a complete breakdown: 

  • They let employees be productive from the onset as they’re given the apps and equipment they need to execute on day 1.
  • They drastically improve employee retention. According to the Human Capital Institute, 69% of employees are more likely to stay with their employer for at least 3 years if they have a positive onboarding experience.
  • They delight your new hires. Since new hires have everything they need to be successful from the get-go, they’re more likely to feel welcomed and empowered in their  role. BambooHR verified this: Employees who found their onboarding to be effective were 30x more likely to report high job satisfaction.
  • They give your organization a competitive edge. The Human Capital Institute also found that more than half (58%) of organizations’ onboarding experiences focus on paperwork and processes. If your onboarding process can strip away these unpleasant tasks, or at least make them easier to get through, your organization should be set to stand out.
  • They help new hires become advocates of your organization. 1 in 5 employees  wouldn’t recommend their organization to family or friends following their onboarding. Onboarding automation not only prevents new hires from becoming detractors, but it also increases the chances that they actively promote your organization to others.

Given all these benefits, there’s little wonder that both Business Technology (BT) and lines of business are prioritizing onboarding automation.

Here’s what we found after surveying BT leaders:

A bar chart that breaks down the most desired automations by BT.

And here’s what we found after surveying employees across lines of business:

A bar chart that breaks down the most desired automations by lines of business.

Wondering what else each group said about building and using different types of automations? You can find out by downloading our State of Business Technology Report

How to Automate Any Onboarding Process

There are generally 3 steps you should follow:

1. Identify the specific processes that are currently performed manually.

If you haven’t implemented employee onboarding automation in the past, you’ll likely find a variety of manual processes that can be streamlined. This can be anything from scheduling the same set of meetings for each new hire to coordinating between the hiring manager and IT for provisioning the new hire with the right apps and equipment.

2. Prioritize the processes you want to automate.

For all of the manual tasks you identified in step 1, try to pinpoint those that are more important to automate based on their potential impact on the new hire, the hiring manager, and the organization. 

Note: It might be easiest to estimate impact by projected time savings.

3. Work with BT to build the automation.  

You’ll not only want to tell your colleagues in BT which processes you want to automate, but also how you’d like to see the process operate once automated. This includes walking them through the business event that triggers the workflow, and, once triggered, how the data should move between the systems. 

Your colleagues in BT might have better ideas on how to implement a certain onboarding automation, but coming to them with a clear approach is a great starting point.

Ready to automate your onboarding processes? Learn how Workato, an enterprise automation platform, can help by scheduling a demo with one of our automation experts!