Posted in HR Automation

5 Steps to Improve Your Employee Onboarding Process

How you onboard new hires can mean the difference between a productive, engaged workforce and (time and again) going through the costly and frustrating process of high employee turnover.

You probably already have an onboarding process in place. 

But is it setting new hires up for success in their roles? Or is your workflow getting bogged down by manual processes?

In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at how you can improve the onboarding process and get new hires to work more quickly and without the agonizing paperwork. 

We’ll also show you how to automate with employee onboarding software like frevvo.


The Problem with the Employee Onboarding Process

A strong employee onboarding program is key to starting a healthy and productive relationship with a new hire.

It’s also their first impression of how you do business. Just as you’re evaluating them in the first few weeks, they’re also equally evaluating you.

But most businesses struggle with making a solid first impression. Many employees find themselves left alone in a room with a stack of paperwork to fill out and no clue what they’re doing or what to do next. 

As you’ll see in the next section, this negatively impacts employee retention and your bottom line. 

Why Improve the Onboarding Process

A poorly run onboarding process can usher new employees out the door before you’ve had a chance to recoup the costs of recruitment. 

Your onboarding process has a direct impact on your bottom line and long term success. 

Following new hire onboarding best practices can help you:

Improve Employee Retention 

Workplace turnover rates are at 19.3% — an all time high. Most employees won’t hesitate to find another opportunity if they don’t have a positive experience with your company.

A strong onboarding process that focuses on things like company culture and employee development can improve employee retention. 

In fact, employees who go through a structured onboarding process are 58% more likely to stay with a company after 3 years.

58% of employees are likely to stay after 3 years

Reduce Hiring Costs

Hiring new employees isn’t cheap. The average cost per hire in 2020 is $4,000 (and 24 days).

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Recruitment costs can skyrocket when you spend time and resources to bring on new hires only for them to quit a short time later. Increasing employee retention rates by improving the onboarding process has the added benefit of improving the return on hiring costs.

Increase Employee Productivity 

New hires don’t hit the ground running on the first day.

Between learning the company culture and familiarizing themselves with their roles, it can take months or even longer for employees to reach their full potential. Onboarding the right way can reduce the time to proficiency and increase productivity by over 70%.

Attract More Candidates 

Job seekers often turn to sites like Glassdoor or Indeed to get a sense of what working at a company would be like. Positive reviews from satisfied employees can leave a great first impression on candidates. 

But a poor onboarding experience could affect your company’s ability to attract talent. Data shows that 1 in 5 new hires are unlikely to recommend an employer to a friend or family member after the initial onboarding experience. 

A strong onboarding process can go a long way towards helping you retain and attract more qualified candidates — both of which ultimately benefit your company’s bottom line.

Now let’s look at how you can improve the onboarding process and enhance the new hire experience.

10 Proven Strategies to Improve the Employee Onboarding Process

There’s a lot more that goes into an employee onboarding program than simply printing out some papers and handing them to new hires. 

Follow these steps to prepare new hires for their roles and make them feel valued.

#1. Engage New Hires Before Their Start Date

Don’t wait until new hires show up to the office to start the onboarding process.

It’s not uncommon for qualified candidates to receive multiple offers. Even if a candidate agrees to work at your company, they can still rescind their offer and take an opportunity elsewhere.

Engage with new hires before their start date to make them feel valued. Send a welcome email and include other helpful information (e.g., where to park, what to wear, etc.) to make their first day feel less overwhelming.

how to make a new hire comfortable

#2. Automate Paperwork With Onboarding Templates

Handling paperwork for new hires can be a tedious and time-consuming task, especially if you’re doing everything manually. But you need to submit the necessary paperwork for new employees.

Here are two of the most important forms:

  • Form I-9: The Employment Eligibility Verification form proves and verifies that new hires can legally work in the US. 
  • Form W-4: New hires need to complete the W-4 form, so employers can withhold the correct federal income tax amount.

New hires may also need to fill out non-disclosure agreements, compliance forms, and other documents depending on your organization.

frevvo’s new employee onboarding template combined with automated workflows means you can go paperless and have those documents automatically routed to your HR team.

Here’s what our customizable employee onboarding template looks like:

customizable employee onboarding template

The template is fully customizable, so you can change it to fit your onboarding process and add your own branding.

#3. Create Engaging Training Materials

Training materials are a must to bring new hires up to speed. But they don’t exactly make for great weekend reading.

Include other types of media to your materials to make them more engaging. Videos are an effective format as they deliver visual instructions in a way that text can’t. In fact, 83% of employees say they prefer to watch a video to learn something new.

83% of employees prefer to watch video

Another way to use video is to communicate your company’s core values and shed more details on what it’s like to work there.

Here’s a good example of an onboarding video from Zendesk:

These videos can also work as a great marketing tool to attract talent.

#4. Set Up Offices Ahead of Time 

Not planning for a new hire’s arrival can leave a bad impression. Get new hires ready for their first day by having their office and equipment set up ahead of time.

Percolate, a content marketing platform, has an excellent onboarding process. The company has everything laid out for new hires and a clear timeline of what they should do next.

Percolate onboarding

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It’s a simple gesture, but one that can make a great first impression and deliver a better employee experience.

#5. Schedule One-on-One Time

Don’t just rely solely on welcome emails and training materials to onboard employees. 

An estimated 72% of new hires say that spending one-on-one time with their direct manager was one of the most important aspects of the onboarding process.

one-on-one time with direct manager is most important to new hires

Spend personal time with new hires and check in on a regular basis. Let them also know what’s expected of them long-term and how they can progress in their careers.

#6. Use the Buddy System

The buddy system is exactly what it sounds like: It involves pairing a new hire with a buddy at work who can show them the ropes and help them get more comfortable in the workplace.

87% of organizations that have a buddy program say it’s an effective way to accelerate new hire proficiency. Find a mentor who can take a hands-on approach and bring new hires up to speed.

Even if most of your team is remote, you can still use the buddy system thanks to modern technology. Have new hires connect with their mentors on tools like Slack or Zoom.

#7. Establish an Onboarding Timeline

As much as you’d like to get a new hire to reach full proficiency, the last thing you want is to overwhelm them with tasks. Establish an onboarding timeline for new employees to follow.

Here’s an example of a sample onboarding timeline:

sample onboarding timeline

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Monitor their progress over time and check in at important time-based milestones (e.g., first week, first month, etc.).

#8. Personalize the Onboarding Process

The most effective onboarding programs are those that are personalized. New hires should receive materials that are specific to their roles.

You can also use surveys to ask what new hires need help with. By doing so, you’ll be able to make the onboarding process more personal and increase employee engagement.

#9. Commit to Onboarding Employees For at Least a Year

New hires are still settling into their roles months into the job. It can take new hires some time before they start to become proficient and realize their full potential. 

Yet nearly three-fourths of hiring managers and HR professionals say their onboarding process lasts a month or less.

length of corporate onboarding programs

One month simply isn’t enough time to get new hires adjusted to their roles. Check in with new hires and provide frequent feedback for at least a year. Companies that commit to extending their onboarding programs can improve new hire proficiency by 34%.

#10. Regularly Review Your Onboarding Process

Taking a proactive approach to improving your onboarding process is great. But as with any business process, there’s always room for improvement.

Keep a close eye on how new hires progress with the onboarding program. You can also periodically send out anonymous surveys to collect feedback and ask them to share their thoughts. You can use these insights to make further improvements.

How to Automate Employee Onboarding Forms

One thing that all employee onboarding programs have in common is the amount of paperwork they have. It’s easy to get bogged down, especially if you’re doing each step manually.

With frevvo’s employee onboarding software, you can create workflows to automate your onboarding program and get your new hires ready for their first day.

Follow these steps to automate employee onboarding forms with frevvo.

#1. Create a Workflow

A workflow allows you to define a business process. It outlines the exact steps needed to complete an activity from start to finish, including any reviews and approvals.

Answer the following questions to create an employee onboarding workflow:

  • What are the exact steps?
  • What forms do employees need to fill out?
  • Who is responsible for each step?
  • What decisions need to be made?
  • What happens in each step?

Then consult with individual stakeholders like the HR manager to get feedback and make sure you’re not missing any key details.

#2. Automate Your Onboarding Workflow

Performing each step in your workflow manually is possible, but it also leaves a lot of room for error — new hires may send forms to the wrong person, entries may be duplicated, etc.

Automating your workflow reduces errors and streamlines the entire process. Onboarding automation means new hires can get started sooner rather than later.

With frevvo’s automation software, you can create your own workflow using drag-and-drop tools or choose a pre-built workflow.

Let’s walk through each step of our employee onboarding workflow:

employee onboarding workflow

What you’re seeing above is the exact employee onboarding workflow we use at frevvo, but yours might look different. For example, new hires may need to fill out non-disclosure agreements or compliance forms.

At the top, click on Forms and you’ll see the following onboarding form for the Employee step:

onboarding form for employee step

This is the form that new hires will use to submit basic information. To add a new field, simply select it from the panel on the left side and drag it over. You can also edit an existing field by clicking on it and changing its settings under the Properties tab.

Let’s look at the next form in our onboarding workflow.

Click on the Switch Form button at the top right and you’ll see the following menu:

switch form in employee onboarding form workflow

Then click on Personal Allowances to view this section of the W-4 form:

personal allowances of W-4 form

Personal allowances are deductions that employees can claim to withhold less tax from their paychecks. Each field has clear instructions to help new hires fill out the correct information.

With digital signatures, new employees won’t have to print, sign, and mail in their forms — they can fill them out at home or on the go from a mobile device.

The next step in our onboarding workflow is the state tax form:

state tax form in onboarding workflow

Employers are required to withhold state taxes for their employees. The form includes a Withholding Codes Chart to help employees enter the right code based on their situation.

Note that state income tax forms differ from state to state, so you’ll need to use the right forms in your workflow. You can find tax forms for each state here.

Then switch over to Form I-9:

I-9 form in onboarding workflow

Employers are required to complete Form I-9 for new hires to verify their identity and employment status.

The next step in our onboarding workflow is for health insurance information:

health insurance information in employee onboarding workflow

Offering health insurance can help your organization attract and retain top talent. 46% of employees said health insurance was a deciding factor or had a positive influence in choosing their current job. With this form, you can get employees enrolled in a health insurance plan.

Next in our onboarding workflow is Confirmation:

confirmation in employee onboarding workflow

Once the forms are filled out, frevvo generates regulation tax documents for you by automatically exporting form data into official PDF documents you can submit to the government. This helps to eliminate duplicate data entry.

The final step is HR Review:

HR review of employee onboarding

Go through each step of your workflow to make sure you didn’t miss anything. If everything looks good, click the Save icon at the top right.

Automatically routing both forms to the HR manager is easy. Head back to your workflow by clicking the Workflow button at the top of the page. 

Click on the HR Review box in the workflow:

HR review box

Then click the Assignment tab and you’ll see the following:

assignment tab for HR review

Select an existing user from the dropdown menu or enter the email address of your HR manager. The information shown here is filled-in by default, but you can easily change the subject line and email message.

Click Submit and save your workflow.

With your new workflow, the system guides new hires through the process and automatically routes those onboarding forms to the HR manager (or other individual you designated).

#3. Test Your Onboarding Workflow

In frevvo, you can test your newly created workflow to double check that it works. From the workflow designer, click the magic wand icon at the top right.

Here’s what the test window looks like:

testing new employee onboarding workflow

As more people use their mobile devices to get work done, it’s important to give your employees the option to fill out and submit their paperwork from different devices.

In the test window, you can test your form in desktop, tablet, and mobile views. You can also invite stakeholders to test and share feedback on your workflow.

Fill out the form to start the workflow. It will work according to how you set it up including messages, email notifications, and routing. This allows you to test each step and make any changes if necessary. 

Here’s what the Confirmation step looks like:

confirmation during testing

The information you entered in the previous steps will generate PDFs and auto-populate the right fields. You can even view the complete forms right from your browser.

Click Send to HR and your HR manager will receive an email notifying them that a new hire has completed Form W-4 and I-9.

#4. Deploy Your Onboarding Workflow

Now that you’ve tested your workflow, the next step is to deploy it. Navigate to your workflow and click the ellipsis (three dots) menu button:

deploy employee onboarding workflow

Click Deploy and your workflow is ready to go. You can always go back and customize your workflow as your business processes change.

#5. Solicit Feedback and Improve Your Workflow

Regularly revisit your workflows and solicit feedback from the rest of the team. With frevvo’s built-in reporting features, you can gather insights about your workflows and identify potential bottlenecks. 

Be sure to address any issues quickly as an inefficient process could be wasting valuable time.


An effective onboarding process allows you to engage new hires early on and reduce their time to proficiency. It also sets employees up for success as they have a clearer idea of what’s expected of them.

With frevvo’s employee onboarding software, you can create powerful workflows that automate manual tasks and free up time.

Register for a free 30-day trial to try out the software for yourself. You’ll get access to all the features including the templates and onboarding workflows shown. You can also sign up for a live demo and we’ll be happy to walk you through it.