Onboarding Apps Can Aid Adding New Employees

By Tatiana Lebedzeva

Dec. 19, 2016

Mobile apps are one to to enhance the employee onboarding experience.


Every year more than 25 percent of the U.S. working population changes jobs, according to research by the SHRM Foundation. This means at least 25 percent of the workforce annually goes through the onboarding process that aims to make a new hire an inherent part of the organization. Human resources normally handles onboarding, and the faster and smoother the process, the sooner and more effectively a newcomer can contribute to the company.

Software can effectively support the onboarding process, and apps can aid what SHRM calls its “4 levers of successful onboarding”: role clarity, self-efficacy, social integration and knowledge of culture.

Depending on the role and the industry, onboarding may take from one week to 90 days. Many large organizations think of onboarding as a longer and a more delicate process: IBM’s assimilation process plan integrates a new hire into a company for a year, while L’Oréal offers its newcomers an onboarding program that lasts two years.

The use of IT is one reason why companies can afford such prolonged, multi-level and deep employee assimilation. Onboarding software can help employees complete onboarding in 30 days or less and helps reduce managerial efforts.

Having their own approach to introducing new employees to the business, every company can benefit from technologies in different ways. Foodmaker Kellogg Co. used a “track record tool” that helped to tailor an onboarding plan according to employees’ descriptions of their previous onboarding experience, while Microsoft has come up with an entire computer-based onboarding program.

Consultancy Deloitte’s research targeted at HR management shows that mobile employee apps increase employee engagement, real-time response as well as workforce satisfaction. However, 50 percent of the HR professionals admitted not using apps for onboarding and named the need to integrate an app with their existing HRM processes and corporate software as the main impediment.

That said, an onboarding app can be introduced to companies both with an onboarding IT system in place and without one. Even if not developed as a part of an onboarding solution from the very start, a mobile app can complement the existing onboarding software by either replicating its functions or extending them, being integrated via a backend. Alternatively, a mobile app can be a standalone tool with self-sufficient features. Native or not, mobile apps can be brought in to any infrastructure, so the choice of a mobile development platform is not the matter of technological aptness. If there’s no preference over a certain mobile brand in the company, a good chance to reach out to newcomers will be with cross-platform mobile development.

Onboarding With an App

SHRM’s research introduced the HR community to its four levers of successful onboarding: role clarity, self-efficacy, social integration and knowledge of culture. An app is one way to get the most out of each.

Role Clarity

If expectations and responsibilities are stated clearly at the very beginning, onboarding will lead to better job satisfaction. Being able to check with a portable onboarding plan, a new hire will get a comprehensive understanding of their role in the company along with the objectives they are to achieve. A mobile plan can also help employees fall into the habit of their daily activities by sending reminders about the next necessary step.


It’s important for a new hire to gain confidence in their skills at a new place. An interactive manual in a mobile app could get them accustomed to new procedures such as handling certain equipment/business-specific software or installing a product on a customer’s premises. The app can help a new employee feel less stressed and pressured even while going through their onboarding in the field.

Social Integration

An onboarding app with a calendar can inform workers about corporate holidays and birthdays with customizable notifications, while a special guide can, for instance, let a new hire find out about the nearby places to have lunch. The app also can help newcomers navigate the company office. At large offices, some gaming elements can be added to raise motivation to explore the property; for instance, a new employee could earn an achievement badge for discovering certain locations for the first time.

Knowledge of Culture

A company can introduce its both formal and informal regulations in a mobile handbook. Apart from mere ‘static’ rules, the handbook feature can contain tools that will get a new hire accustomed to behavior, generally accepted by the company’s culture. For example, a new hire in a restaurant can make use of a checklist that reminds to greet a client, a special offer after taking the order and thank them — all in the manner specific to the company.

When automated with the help of an app, onboarding turns into a process that is deeper at its core but easier on human resources and line management. Replicating an existing onboarding solution, extending its functionality or creating a standalone app — the choice is up to every company and depends on particular business needs. Yet regardless of the specifics, such an app can support all onboarding with onboarding plans, interactive manuals, training and review modules, as well as handbooks and office augmented reality maps.

Tatiana Lebedzeva is a business analyst at ScienceSoft, a software development and consulting company in McKinney, Texas. With three years’ experience as a human resources manager, Lebedzeva has expertise in staff performance, HR administration and HR software.


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