The challenges of remote work and the continued threat of COVID-19 have caused educational institutions to reevaluate how new employees are acclimated to the campus community, particularly with regard to onboarding. Tasks and administrative work that used to take place in person and onsite over the first few days and weeks of employment now need to happen more quickly, and be accessible from anywhere. But how do you choose the best solution for your organization’s needs? Here's what to look for in a virtual onboarding solution.
Agility and ease of access
When moving to a virtual onboarding process, you want things to run as smoothly as possible. That's why considering whether the solution is cloud-based and mobile friendly should be one of the first things on your checklist. Obviously, being able to access the software remotely will be a chief concern, but not all software runs smoothly on phones.
Being able to give access to the platform to new hires before their start date to fill out administrative forms is another item to look for. This will reduce the time spent on time-consuming processes once the employee officially starts, giving them more time to acclimate to the campus and their role quicker.
You'll also want to think about whether the platform integrates with the rest of your HR software stack. Systems that don't talk to one another will create more work for you and the new hire.
Ease of use
HR and managers should preview the virtual onboarding system together before making a decision to purchase. Make sure everyone has buy-in on the tool's ease of use and minimize as much as possible any resistance you may receive to learning something new. A virtual onboarding platform that is intuitive and easy for your HR and campus leaders to use will be the first half of the battle. Make sure you ask the vendor if you can do things like track a new hire's task progress.
Don't forget to take the candidate experience into consideration -- a tool with great insights or capabilities on the admin side, but not so great on the candidate side could turn off your new employees. The ability for HR to impersonate other user types would come particularly in handy for this.
Level of customization available
Many out of the box onboarding solutions have little-to-no customization available. This is especially true if the product was designed for general enterprise use and not specifically for educational institutions. Education HR has different needs and concerns in onboarding than someone at a private sector company would. Being able to customize the onboarding process by employee type (staff, faculty, student employees, etc.), department, or even campus location is a great way to ensure new hires are getting a tailored experience that will set them up for success and make them feel welcome, even if done remotely.
Automation and storage capabilities
One of the most time-consuming and cumbersome parts of a new hire onboarding process is the need for signatures on paperwork. A virtual onboarding platform that allows for e-signatures from new hires and managers can speed up the process. It also helps if these forms can be set up to be routed to the appropriate stakeholder once completed.
Moving away from paper or manual processes also means that documents that were previously easy to lose or stored in filing cabinets and messy spreadsheets can live in an online platform, easily accessible to those with the correct user permissions at any given time.
If you'd like to get specific questions to ask when debating on what to look for in a virtual onboarding solution, check out 33 Illuminating Questions to Ask When Searching for a Solution to Virtual Onboarding. Or, check out NEOED's Onboard to learn more about how it was built specifically for education HR and can streamline onboarding for your instituion.