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HR Process Automation: How an ATS Can Streamline Your Onboarding

by | Aug 1, 2019 | HR software

HR Process Automation

Bringing new employees into your company is exciting – after a thorough application, interview, and vetting process, it’s time for their first day. New employees are ready to learn about the company; they want to meet their new team and learn about a new job.  So, why ask employees to start their first day by filling out a pile of forms? Furthermore, modern employees often work remotely or apart from where the HR team works, so filling out a pile of new-hire documents and getting them to the right place is even more of a challenge.  

Wouldn’t it be great if the new-hire paperwork process was simplified?  Keep reading to discover how HR automation through the use of an ATS can help you to overcome common challenges and streamline the onboarding process.

What Slows Down the Onboarding Process?

The onboarding process is challenging, as we all have competing priorities, and frankly, there is nothing fun about completing a bunch of forms. You’ve got one (or many) new, eager employees, and the only thing stopping them from starting their new job is a pile of paper.

A manual onboarding process not only affects how quickly a new employee can start, it can also poorly reflect on how the new hire views your company. Here are a few factors that might be slowing down your company’s onboarding process.

Mailing a stack of papers: If you’re sending papers via snail mail, it can be incredibly overwhelming for a new employee. Especially if they’re still finishing up at their current job, trying to sort through a bunch of paper that essentially requires then to fill in their name, address, phone number, and more over and over again – it just doesn’t give people the warm fuzzies. Trying to get the forms back is also a challenge.  Do you ask them to scan the completed forms, or should they be hand-delivered back to you on the employee’s first day? Neither of these options work well.  

Sending forms via email: If you aren’t sending fillable forms that can be returned via email,  people have to print them and then scan them to return. Again, not the best experience for you or your new employees – this runs into many of the problems outlined above.

Tracking these documents and their progress: For companies that either email documents or simply don’t use an ATS that allows for documents to be tracked throughout the process, it can be difficult to know when, or if, all of the paperwork is complete or who needs nudging.

Getting signatures back quickly: Again, if employees aren’t able to easily sign documents electronically, this can delay the process. It takes time to physically sign each document, then taking an additional step to scan, upload, and send them back to you. Even more frustrating is if they send the forms back, but they miss half of the places that need their signature or need information, and then the whole process must begin anew.

Creating Order from Paperwork Chaos

If you’ve experienced the headache and frustration that goes along with the above onboarding issues, then you know a more efficient method would make a huge difference in your new hire process. This is where HR process automation can lift the burden, where so many manual onboarding processes simply cause more work.

An applicant management system can sort out all the paperwork chaos. A comprehensive solution addresses each of these issues through automation and other technology:

Send Pertinent Documents to Applicant: Regardless of location, you can electronically send any paperwork that the applicant needs to complete and sign or acknowledge. With the right system, there are no limits – you can send federal/state forms (I-9, W-4, etc.) or company-specific documents, e.g., car parking registration forms, employee handbooks, safety manuals, and so on.  One benefit of a good ATS is that it should be able to pre-fill in the forms based on the information the employee has already provided during the application process, and you can similarly pre-fill company or position information  Even better, the technology guides the employee to gather all of the data and signatures they need to provide. No more incomplete forms!

Track Progress in One Place: The applicant tracking system should also be able to track the progress of all documents in one place. This will provide an easier, efficient way to see the employee’s progress and send email reminders as needed.

Sign All Documents Digitally: Finally, this system should allow a new hire to sign everything without ever touching a pen. Fortunately for the employee, this means that time and resources aren’t wasted printing paperwork or signing, uploading, and emailing or even mailing documents, which would mean delaying the onboarding process further as you wait for all documents to arrive. Better yet, they can do this on a computer, tablet, or smartphone.

Ultimately, with these solutions available through an ATS, recruiters and HR managers can quickly send and receive all important documents for the new hire, all while reducing redundant or slow completion of important documents.

Which Onboarding Features Should You Look for in an ATS?

While automation is not without its own issues, these technologies provide a more efficient process overall, saving organizations time and money.

Now that you’re convinced that an ATS is vital for a successful onboarding program, what features should you be looking for? This could definitely be a situation of “buyer beware,” so here are four essential questions to ask yourself before you make a decision.

  • What forms and documents does the ATS support? An effective ATS should support any and all client-original documents, such as handbooks, policies, etc. Your ATS should also support all relevant federal and state forms. This might seem like a given, but some applicant tracking systems only support 3-4 standard forms.
  • How are the documents created and stored? Some systems, like TAM, store signed documents as a fully executed document with an audit record. Other systems might store documents as a form with data, which means that if you only ask for a form, you will only receive the data, and the applicant never sees the actual form with all of the fine print. When’s the last time you felt comfortable signing a form that wasn’t the actual form?
  • Who sets up the onboarding process? A new system means that whoever is in charge of onboarding on your HR or recruiting team will likely be responsible for setting it up in the ATS. Setting up the onboarding process will take time – something most of us don’t have enough of. The best ATS solutions, like TAM, take care of adding fields and signatures to your forms and we walk you through the entire process. This means that your onboarding process can be quickly up and running, and the setup isn’t a deterrent.
  • Which data is prepopulated? This is another important piece of information that you should have before choosing an ATS. As strange as it sounds, you shouldn’t assume that onboarding documents generated by an ATS will have information from that ATS. Make sure you ask which information will be prepopulated in the ATS forms, and whether or not it can be exported.

A Great ATS Is an Onboarding Solution

The pace at which technology is developing, especially in the SaaS market, means that there are new solutions being developed every day to address the problems nearly every organization can face at some point. The time-consuming hiring and onboarding process can be greatly simplified when you use a well-designed, capable ATS; when shopping around for the best fit for your organization, make sure to consider the overall value an ATS offers your company’s onboarding process.

If you’re interested in learning more about how an effective applicant tracking system can improve your company’s HR automation and bottom line, contact TAM today to schedule a free demo.