Simplifying workflows is the simplest way to improve your onboarding processes, which, in most cases, are disparate, non-linear, and farmed out to separate lots. So start with workflows if you’re on the hunt to improve these processes.
Onboarding is organized by departments, such as IT, facilities, and HR. A better, alternate approach is likely a shared workflow. Shared workflows can reduce hassle throughout the organization’s life and can take very little time to establish.
Onboarding is more than orientation and the get-up-and-go of starting a job. If your processes are in place and defined well in advance, organizations can automate processes so that new hires don’t stumble from the start. Developing an onboarding workflow is especially important as employees digitally interact with organizations and are brought into hybrid and fully remote environments.
It’s worth noting that onboarding is a process that continues throughout the first several months, not something that ends after the employee’s first day.
Onboarding crosses departments — HR, IT, facilities, security, legal, leadership and management, products, and R&D, among others. Without formal onboarding workflows, your processes can introduce mistakes. HR teams often lack the benchmarking data to help them chart a measurable path to process improvement.
Like all successful things, begin developing onboarding workflows with preparation.
Preparation for the workflow meetings
There are a few things to keep in mind as you schedule and begin the onboarding workflow sessions. First, bring the right people together. Invite those who know your current onboarding process and are authorized to make decisions to change these processes. During sessions, nothing is more annoying and puts the brakes on your advancement faster than hearing, “I’ll have to ask” or “I’m not able to make that decision” during this session.
Next, gather the required information for planning and moving the preparations forward. Determine which tasks are outstanding regarding onboarding and what information they need to tackle these tasks. For example, what kind of access card should someone receive when starting with the organization? What systems or internal solutions should they receive? Do they receive a desktop or laptop computer? Which organizational permissions?
Next is the preparation for laying out the workflow session, where individuals come together, bring their perspectives, and hash out details to determine the best way forward. When together, there are several questions to consider to bring these ideas to life. I’ve listed some of these below:
What needs to be performed during onboarding?
Map required tasks for each department throughout the organization that affects a newly hired individual. Develop a standard workflow for everyone, then adapt it accordingly for each individual or area. This can’t become a blueprint for all organizations, but it is explicitly created for yours. It’s also a starting point to take stock of your current setup. We discuss the onboarding tasks and which tasks do and don’t do.
When all tasks are identified, determine the duration of each. This is the time to close out the task. For example, requesting a car from the carpool can take five minutes, but if you know you need to wait a week for a response, the task’s duration should be at least a week.
Who performs which task?
Map who needs to perform each task. In some cases, you can name the department; in others, you need to be more specific. Here’s an example of what you need to map: Who creates the employee login and account information. This is something most people within the IR organization do take on, so this can be accomplished as a task list item for the team. However, specific individuals on the IT team can only allow certain tasks, such as assigning permissions to confidential folders. In this instance, you can map workflows differently based on the situation. These situations should be outlined and noted.
What are the interdependencies?
During workflow mapping, review tasks and the interdependencies based on their priorities. Which task is dependent on which role or step in the organization? What potential bottlenecks occur because this part of the process can’t move forward until this part of the process is done. An example includes HR first needing to create a personnel file before others can add to or amend the file. This type of interdependency makes it essential to record realistic durations, as we’ve previously discussed. When you make a tight schedule and a task at the beginning of the process is closed too late, the entire plan is overrun.
Required and optional tasks
Finally, determine which tasks are always needed in the process and which are optional. Think of things such as employees needing a new AD account (almost everyone) but who gets access to the carpool (much fewer than the total number of employees).
The point of this conversation is that cross-organizational collaboration is needed to enrich and ensure your onboarding workflows.
Onboarding requires interdepartmental cooperation
Onboarding affects fewer aspects of the organization. For example, HR processes bleed over into IT, facilities, IT, security, systems, and other platforms. As we can see here, HR is directly connected to each of these different areas of the business based on the nature of their work and their bringing people into the onboarding processes.
A similar example is that of a CEO or other top-level business leader. Because of their interaction with nearly every aspect of the company, they share interdisciplinary responsibilities and responsibilities that require timelines, permissions, workflows, and duties and tasks across business units or divisions.
Workflows done, now what?
If everything goes to plan, you have your workflow on paper, but the most important thing is having a plan. Detailing it means it’s executable and actionable. Then, you can flow the work through it if needed.
If you are reading this piece, you’re likely in the beginning stages of your planning and prep. If that’s the case, move forward with a few quick things to get started.
- Record the workflow in a central or share location – in a service management tool, for example.
- Determine when the workflows go into effect. It doesn’t matter when you begin, as long as employees have plenty of time to prepare and ask questions.
- Communicate the workflow to the teams. Inform the departments that require the use of the workflows. Tell leadership where the workflow document lives, how they can use it when working with it, and to who they can ask questions.
Creating an onboarding workflow is not that difficult, but you need to take some time to determine how to set it up, which questions to ask, who to include, and the timeline for setting the plan in place. Nothing is more important when developing new workflows than putting them on paper and enacting them once they are in place.