Acendre webinar: How online onboarding can create a powerful first impression

We all know the value of a strong first impression. Whether you’re dating, meeting with a potential business partner or starting your career at a new organization, the first interaction you have goes far in forming your overall experience.

First impressions formed the theme of a recent webinar Acendre hosted on May 7. Representatives from Acendre’s clients joined Karen Evans, managing director, to discuss their experience with onboarding software and the role these initial processes play in the success of their institutions.

Marie Cowling, HR advisor at Bond University, described her team’s strategy to build a business case for implementing electronic onboarding tools. Then, Arvinder Singh, manager of HR systems at the University of Western Sydney (UWS) and Beth Reyes, a recruitment consultant, explained how utilizing NGA.NET’s eRecruit helped them rectify the organization’s poor track record with bringing new appointments on board.

What’s the value of an online onboarding system?

Onboarding processes can include a range of forms and protocols. At a basic level, it’s all about collecting the necessary information to set up a new hire for work at an organization. This often involves bank and tax data to set up payroll, approval on letters of offer and policies that need to be signed by incoming employees.

Ms Evans noted that transitioning from a paper-based system to an electronic one has a number of benefits. In addition to cutting down on administrative tasks, a streamlined process simply creates a better first impression.

It makes sense: Traditional processes can be cumbersome as different departments relay paper forms candidates need to sign, often requiring them to provide the same information more than once. Furthermore, delays in posting documents can ultimately prevent new workers from having access to the tools and equipment they need from Day 1.

With an integrated, electronic platform, new hires have a central location to add their information, review policies and other documents, upload qualifications and accept offers. From the back end, HR teams and other interested parties can pull a single set of the data they need, rather than managing a flood of paperwork.

As Mr Singh observed based on UWS’s experience, this approach gives new appointees a great first impression. The polished platforms gives them a sense they’re working for a modern, tech-savvy organization, while the streamlined process helps them start off on the right foot.

Can an onboarding experience influence retention and productivity?

Like any first impression, the follow-on effects of an initial encounter extend far beyond the occasion itself. Within a professional setting, onboarding procedures can often shape the trajectory of the candidate’s career and attitude toward his or her employer.

Ms Evans alluded to the well-known fact that new hires usually decide whether to stay or leave within six months of employment. A rocky start can weigh heavily on early sentiments towards an employee. On the other hand, a strong onboarding process that ensures new staff have access to the information and tools they need can usher them into a successful career. Helping new staff be productive right from the start can also foster greater engagement.

Speaking about Bond University’s challenges before implementing online onboarding with Acendre, Ms Cowling explained that manual forms caused lengthy time delays, and the lack of tracking made it difficult for faculty to know where things stood in terms of getting their resources or assistants in order. UWS also noted this issue, which could prevent new hires from accessing their equipment right away – an experience that was bad for both productivity and branding.

Will electronic onboarding become the status quo?

As other aspects of institutional operations go digital, will online onboarding processes become more prominent?

The benefits of the solution are clear, but only 9 percent of respondents to Acendre’s live poll said they have an electronic system to manage onboarding. Instead, 58 percent use paper and 17 percent don’t have a formal process in place. The remaining 17 percent are in transition, intending to start a formal procedure soon.

At the same time, only 23 percent said they track their programs’ impact through interviews and surveys, while 38 percent noted their reviews weren’t very consistent and 38 per cent indicated they don’t have tracking systems yet (but want them!). Of the 23 percent who track their performance, about a third of these don’t tie it to the larger impact on the business.

All this simply means there’s opportunity for improvement. Ms Cowling offered some excellent insights on how to formulate a business case for transitioning to an electronic system. HR teams usually have to convince executives of the broader value and cost-benefit analysis of this kind of investment. She suggested identifying pain points (such as heavy administrative burdens), tallying up the cost of these processes and showing how the project would align with strategic objectives (like recruitment goals, or having the ability to attract world-class employees).

This kind of preparation is easier when you know how much of a difference onboarding can make on an individual’s career within an organization. From there, it’s not hard to see how a positive first impression can assist with engagement, long-term productivity and retention.

To talk to Acendre about onboarding and getting your processes online, contact us here, or email us at

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