10 Tips to Improve HR Onboarding

By Sue Rodeman, Worldwide Marketing Director

Improve new hire retention and employee satisfaction with these HR onboarding tips.

Employers don’t want to make a mistake when hiring someone new, which is part of the reason the interview process has increased by an average of 10 days in the past four years. After all, the right employee is worth waiting for.

But an employer’s work doesn’t stop after the interviewee accepts the job offer. Following through with the HR onboarding process is equally important.

Why Is Onboarding Important?

Employees are expecting more out of their workplaces these days, and onboarding is your first chance to make a real impression of your company culture.

In fact, making the right first impression can do wonders to improve new hire retention. One study found that employees who went through a well-structured orientation were 69% more likely to have a positive outlook on their company and stay for at least three years.

What’s more, businesses that have a better onboarding program in place retain 95% of their new employees, as compared to 50% of those who don’t.

All of this is easier said than done, of course. All types of onboarding prove to be challenges for modern business fighting for retention.

The key to keeping valuable employees is to improve the entire onboarding experience, from when they file the paperwork to weeks after they’ve started their new job.

Here are 10 tips to improve your HR onboarding process to retain talented new employees.

How to Improve HR Onboarding

1. Make the Right First Impression

People tend to make a first impression in a fraction of a second, and that can influence the way they view your business for years. You only have one chance at a first impression, so make it count.

Perhaps the best way to leave a positive impression on an employee is to seem as organized as possible. That means no paper files left strewn across your desk. Organization shows people that you, and the company you represent, are on top of things. This may remove any doubts a new hire has about picking your business over every other.

An easy way to stay organized is to digitize paper files, freeing up space on your desk and keeping documents neatly organized on a computer or network.

Once you’ve sat down with a new hire to start the onboarding process, talk to them often and continue to engage them. Moments where a new employee feels unattended or lost could send a subconscious message that your business isn’t as organized as they thought.

New employees are looking for signs that they are welcome and included, so you should make them feel that way throughout the onboarding process.

2. Don’t Confuse Onboarding with Orientation

While both are important, you do not want to confuse onboarding with orientation. The two are vastly different and will both play a role in retaining new hires.


Experts debate how long orientation should last, but you should never spend more than a full workday on orientation. New hires are usually pretty excited to begin their new position, and they don’t want to be bogged down with long meetings on their first day.

Orientation should be held on the first day the new hire is brought in, and HR should take care of the entire process. During orientation, HR should cover:

  • Company culture, values, and goals
  • Benefits, time off, and pay procedure
  • Workplace safety
  • Different departments and their function within the company
  • Administrative policies


HR onboarding is everything that happens during orientation, plus most of the first three to six months of the employee’s time. Some experts even suggest that onboarding should last as long as 12 months after the hire. Onboarding includes all the paperwork of the orientation process, but should also encompass the positive aspects that keep employees. Work anniversaries, special gifts, check-ins, and organized lunches are great ways to keep the onboarding process going.

3. Automate Whenever Possible

Anyone working in HR knows that onboarding can be a long, expensive process. To keep costs low and the onboarding process moving, you’ll want to automate whenever you can.

The benefits of automation are obvious to businesses, especially when it comes to cutting costs by removing paper waste. Time spent searching for matching forms and manually inputting information on existing paper files adds up. Nearly every process that relies on paper can be automated. Automation also allows you to be more efficient in the way you collect data, and since machines are consistent, you will see a reduction in errors as well.

New hires also see the benefit of an automated onboarding process. When automated, the onboarding process may more easily offer a personalized experience to every employee, ensuring that they get the attention they deserve.

> Learn how Kodak Alaris helped a hospital acheive significant cost and time savings, improved internal efficiencies and productivity

4. Cut Paper by Going Online

Automation isn’t the only reason you should be cutting paper. A sizeable amount of the onboarding process — including all of the orientation process — can be completed digitally, reducing paper waste and keeping materials in the same location.

The application process should ditch paper products, too. When searching for talent, you should utilize as many online resources as possible. Many of today’s younger workers are used to interacting in the digital space, and online communication is starting to become more popular than in-person. Paper is also bound to be lost or damaged at some point, so moving away from physical records early through a digital onboarding process is a smart move.

5. Streamline With Scanning and Capture Software

One of the biggest problems with onboarding — including customer onboarding — is the cumbersome process most businesses have in place. Long wait times for manual data entry throw a wrench in the onboarding machine, and a process that could be completed in minutes is stretched into hours, and potentially days.

Scanning and capture software decrease the stress and slow periods of onboarding. Much faster than manually copying information, scanning, and capture software work together to collect, understand, and categorize massive amounts of information in a short period of time.

One solution, the Kodak i3250 Scanner, scans large-sized paper documents while fitting conveniently on a desk. Capable of scanning up to 20,000 pages per day, a scanner like this can make quick work of onboarding paperwork while still completing other tasks.

After scanning high volumes of paperwork, capture software such as Kodak Capture Pro digitizes documents, parses the scanned documents for information, and separates the information it finds. With this software, HR managers can easily find mistakes or missing information on paperwork.

> Learn how a government agency used scanners from Kodak Alaris to speed up their processes 

6. Digitize Important HR Documents

The workplace has changed rapidly since the creation of computers, but not all businesses have worked to stay digitally up-to-date. The digitization of important documents is becoming the new norm for businesses, and new hires expect important information to be digitized for them, too.

Digitizing documents isn’t as painful as it sounds. A digital document can be something as simple as a scanned piece of paper that has been uploaded as a PDF file. Share this PDF file over the cloud, and you’ve digitized your document.

Other benefits of digitized documents exist beyond improving HR onboarding. The main reason new hires want important documents digitized is so that they can find them easily. Think about how much easier it is to find a document online rather than search through stacks of paper in filing cabinets. This holds true whether you’re trying to find new hire information or something else altogether.

Digitized documents also mitigate the risk of losing information. Paper gets misplaced, damaged, or lost entirely. Imagine telling a new hire that a coffee spill destroyed all their onboarding paperwork! When properly stored on the cloud, documents are accessible to anyone with permission at any time, and safely out of the reach of hackers or disasters.

A combination of high-volume scanners — such as those in Kodak’s i4000 series or i3000 series — and Kodak Capture Pro Software can scan and digitize thousands of pages a day for entire departments.

7. Keep Other Important Information Online

Just as new hires enjoy having the freedom to access their personal records online, keeping other pertinent information online is a smart idea. New employees, particularly those just out of college, love having information at their fingertips. Things ranging from a comprehensive employee directory to digitized minutes from recent meetings they might have missed are critical if you want the new hire to feel comfortable.

Other employees at your company are bound to enjoy this same access to information, too. How many times have you wondered something about your business and been unable to find the information on your computer? Digitizing documents does take some time and completely overhaul your current method of storing information, but the outcomes are always positive.

8. Create a Network of Mentors

Nobody likes feeling lost in the workplace, and this is especially true for new hires. One study showed that more than 40% of all job turnover occurs within the first month of an employee being hired. To prevent employees from feeling lost, why not have someone there to help them as they adjust to the new environment?

Employee mentor networks are proven to improve new hire retention while increasing the new hire’s productivity early on.

Because we live in the digital era, new hires might not even be expecting a face-to-face mentor. Some might even prefer to communicate with mentors digitally. Creating an online space where new employees can contact one or multiple mentors gives them a fast, comfortable way to get information. An online mentor program is particularly useful for corporations with campuses in multiple locations.

Other outcomes of a new employee mentor program include:

  • Stronger office space relationships
  • Quicker understanding and adoption of company culture
  • Better communication
  • Better information gathering to learn how to improve or further streamline the onboarding process
  • More security in the new hire’s decision to take the job

9. Create a Plan and Timeline

Creating a plan and timeline is such a simple step that most HR managers likely have both in place. If that’s the case, then perhaps amending the current plan and timeline is the best thing to do — especially if your onboarding lasts less than a month.

Creating an Onboarding Plan

Businesses should try to integrate digital and in-person onboarding, if possible. New hires may feel more comfortable learning in a digital space, but in-person interactions are more effective than digital interactions — 34% more effective, to be exact.

Your onboarding plan should also integrate company culture, preferably at every step in the process. A business needs to sell itself to employees if they want to improve new hire retention rates.

Creating a Timeline

How long should your onboarding process last? The fact that some companies on board for over a year doesn’t mean that it’s the best option for every industry. However, you certainly don’t want onboarding to last less than a month.

According to a survey by CareerBuilder, nearly 40% of businesses on board for one to three months. This is a good length to aim for, but even longer onboarding increases employee retention. Put a plan in place that lasts 365 days, from before they walk into the office to their first work anniversary.

10. Get Feedback

The final step of the onboarding process should occur one year after your new employee began working. After their first year, find out what worked with the onboarding process, and ask how important the process was to them.

Criticism isn’t anything if you aren’t willing to ask everyone, though. Ask any workers being offboarded the same questions. Maybe the HR onboarding process had no impact on their decision to leave the company, but it’s also possible that a flaw in the process led to their decision.

Fortunately for HR managers, companies from all over the world have shared their onboarding feedback, so after adopting changes to streamline and improve the process, your business should start seeing happier, more productive employees who plan on sticking around.

Related solutions

i3250 Scanner

i3250 Scanner

  • Up to 50 ppm color/ bw, A3 scanner
  • Integrated book-edge flatbed for exception documents
Alaris Capture Pro

Capture Pro Software

  • Ideal for paper-intensive business applications
  • Extensive integration with ECM systems
  • Network and Import modules available


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