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Six Onboarding Challenges and How AI Onboarding Tools Can Address Them

December 7, 2023
Ehtisham Hussain
Ehtisham Hussain
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Only 29% of new employees feel fully equipped and supported to thrive in their new roles after onboarding.

To state the obvious, that is a very low number.

When done right, employee onboarding helps new team members better understand a new company’s culture, their own role with it, and also gets them excited about their work.  Onboarding plays an important role in improving retention, as employees are more likely to stick with a company that shows a commitment to their growth and success from the start. 

Since the pandemic, employee onboarding has gone from conventional, in-person processes to digital, tech-driven methods. It has evolved to accommodate remote work, using digital onboarding tools for virtual training and online document management. Now, artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing this domain further by personalizing the onboarding experience, automating routine tasks, and offering responsive virtual assistance with smart onboarding tools.

This article will focus on the latest innovations in AI onboarding. Before we dive in, though, let’s look at some statistics that help drive home the importance of onboarding and the need for its evolution:

  1. The average cost of recruiting and onboarding a new employee ranges from $7,500–$28,000.
  2. 52% of HR professionals find onboarding to be a challenging aspect of their role.
  3. Dated onboarding processes increase manager fatigue by up to 42%.
  4. 76% of HR leaders believe that they must implement AI onboarding in their processes within the next two years to keep up with the competition

The stats show that the significant investment required for recruiting and onboarding a new employee calls for an efficient onboarding strategy, with a move towards digitization, automation, and the use of AI.

That being said, we are in the middle of a massive return-to-office drive, where employers want everyone to come back to the conventional pre-Covid, on-site work model.

If they get their way, remote onboarding may become a thing of the past. But will it?

Is remote employee onboarding here to stay?

The short answer is yes. Let’s examine why.

Reason 1: Hybrid work

Nine out of 10 companies are planning to return to office by 2024, and almost three in 10 may threaten to fire employees that insist on working remotely.

Employees, on the other hand, have different priorities. Workers at large tech companies like Amazon, Google, and government organizations have openly pushed back against the return-to-office mandate. And, it appears that they have significant leverage:

  • The increase in union activities, including strikes by YouTube contractors in Texas and actions by state employees in New Mexico earlier this year, show that workers are organizing to negotiate more favorable terms.
  • A significant portion of the workforce, 98% to be exact, has expressed a preference for remote work. Such widespread sentiment can pressure companies to adjust their policies.
  • With the unemployment rate at low levels (3.9%), employees have more bargaining power, making it harder for employers to ignore their demands.
  • Remote work's benefits in enhancing employee autonomy, reducing commute times, and potentially increasing productivity are increasingly being documented and recognized. This will work in employees' favor, since employers will not be able to prove that on-site employees are more productive.
  • Harsh return-to-office policies will harm retention and employee morale, possibly leading to a talent drain to more flexible competitors.

Taking all of the above factors into account, it looks like employees will succeed in resisting a full return to the office, resulting in the adoption of hybrid models. 

Reason 2: Distributed teams

Forty eight percent of Gen Z workers and 47% of millennials expect their companies to become more geographically distributed. That’s why employers who want to hire and retain young workers, will likely continue to implement a distributed workforce model.

Distributed workforces also enable companies to attract the best candidates from around the world. It comes as no surprise then that 60% of executives reported an uptick in the caliber of applicants for each vacancy after moving to a distributed model.

Remote onboarding tools enable organizations to encourage inclusion and build a cohesive workforce that operates like a well oiled machine despite the miles between them. By investing in onboarding, organizations can make their international employees feel welcomed, valued, and prepared to contribute to the company's success from anywhere in the world.

Top six onboarding challenges and how AI onboarding tools can solve them

Fifty two percent of HR professionals find onboarding to be a challenging aspect of their role. The challenges they face are almost exclusively IT related. These challenges range from system access management to device procurement and provisioning and everything in between.

1. Repetitive administrative tasks

According to a whitepaper published by Electric.ai, 39% of HR professionals struggle with time spent on repetitive tasks such as:

  • Collection of personal information
  • Scheduling of training sessions, introductory sessions etc.
  • Contract and document signing
  • Equipment allocation

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) can handle repetitive tasks such as data entry, scheduling, and document management, freeing up HR professionals to focus on more strategic work. AI, in combination with RPA, can help HR professionals with tasks such as:

  • Automated data entry and processing — AI onboarding tools and RPA can automatically populate databases with new hire information, reducing the need for manual data entry and minimizing the risk of human error in administrative tasks.
  • Scheduling and communication automation — These onboarding tools can manage and automate scheduling for interviews, orientations, and follow-up meetings, as well as trigger personalized communication workflows to keep new hires informed and engaged.
  • Document management — RPA can streamline the collection, filing, and management of necessary documentation such as contracts, tax forms, and policy acknowledgments, freeing HR professionals from time-consuming paperwork.

2. Decentralized AI onboarding processes

According to the same Electric.ai report, 30% of HR professionals believe that centralized management of the onboarding process would help them address their challenges.

Onboarding, managed through disparate systems or manual processes, leads to inconsistencies in how new hires are brought into the organization. A disjointed approach to onboarding often results in new employees receiving mixed messages — they also miss out on critical information about their role and the organization.

Centralized AI onboarding tools can integrate different onboarding steps into a cohesive workflow, ensuring consistency and allowing HR to monitor the onboarding process from a single dashboard. Here’s how:

  • Unified onboarding platform — AI can integrate disparate onboarding systems and processes into a single platform, providing a centralized hub for all AI onboarding activities and resources accessible to HR professionals and new hires alike.
  • Intelligent workflow coordination — AI onboarding tools can orchestrate the flow of tasks across different departments, so each step of the onboarding process is triggered at the right time and completed in the correct sequence.
  • Data-driven insights — By centralizing onboarding data, AI can offer actionable insights and analytics, enabling continuous improvement of the onboarding process through monitoring and optimization of each stage.

3. Lack of personalization

New hires who receive a personalized offer letter are 17 times more likely to feel an emotional connection with their employer. That goes to show the importance of personalization during hiring and onboarding. 

Each new employee comes with unique experiences and learning styles, and a one-size-fits-all approach can lead to disengagement. AI can significantly enhance the onboarding process by delivering a tailored experience for each new hire:

  • Customized learning paths — AI can analyze the background and skills of new hires to create individualized onboarding plans that target their specific needs, facilitating a more engaging and relevant learning experience.
  • Adaptive content delivery — By using AI knowledge assistants, organizations can ensure that employees learn at their own pace while also owning their own onboarding process. Employees can ask questions that are relevant to their roles and receive accurate and comprehensive information 
  • Smart information segmentation — AI onboarding tools can break down extensive information into digestible modules, scheduling the delivery of content in an optimized sequence that aligns with the employee's learning progress.

4. Device procurement and provisioning

Equipping new hires with the necessary hardware and software often leads to delays and inefficiencies. The logistics of tracking inventory, matching device specifications to job requirements, and configuring each device can lead to inefficiencies and errors.

AI can significantly streamline this aspect of onboarding by:

  • Predictive analysis for inventory management — AI algorithms can predict the need for devices based on hiring forecasts, ensuring optimal inventory levels and reducing procurement lead times.

5. Security and confidentiality risks

During the onboarding process, new hires must often provide sensitive personal information, such as social security numbers, banking details for payroll setup, addresses, and more. This stage of HR operations is particularly vulnerable to security breaches, which can lead to significant data privacy issues and potentially cause identity theft or financial fraud. 

By integrating secure AI onboarding tools, organizations can benefit in the following ways:

  • Access control — AI onboarding tools can regulate access rights, permitting only authorized personnel to view sensitive new hire information and monitoring for unauthorized access attempts.
  • Compliance checks — AI onboarding tools can ensure the onboarding process adheres to data protection regulations, automatically updating to meet legal compliance standards.
  • Anomaly detection — AI onboarding tools can swiftly detect unusual activity, providing a proactive defense against potential security threats during onboarding.

6. Providing adequate context and information

Information fragmentation is a common problem in organizations. Even the most structured onboarding programs will often miss imparting vital bits of information required by new employees. This typically gives rise ad-hoc Slack channels dedicated to #new-hires or new employees having to hunt down answers from tenured employees.

According to Linktree’s ex-CTO Mitch Malone, “The biggest challenge in product teams right now isn't related to the skills themselves. It's onboarding and development. Training junior ICs to a level of autonomy, and doing this via remote ways of working, is a huge challenge for any company right now.”

AI knowledge assistants can address this challenge by providing on-demand answers to all types of questions based on internal company knowledge. This saves time at either end: New hires no longer have to spend time trying to find information and hiring managers and colleagues are freed up from answering endless questions. By automating responses to common onboarding queries, AI tools such as Dashworks create a more efficient and less disruptive onboarding process.

Three must-have AI hiring and onboarding tools 

1. HireEZ

HireEz is an AI-powered talent recruitment platform. It uses AI to facilitate fast and efficient sourcing across 800+ million open web profiles and more than 45 platforms. It eliminates the team for inMails, CRMs and other traditional methods for sourcing talent and helps recruiters find and engage the best talent based on their specific requirements.

The tool focuses primarily on the front end of the recruitment process (sourcing and engaging candidates) and does not include onboarding features. The tool has 4.6/5 stars on G2.

2. Enboarder

Enboarder guides new employees through the necessary steps of onboarding with a mix of content and tasks to complete. The platform provides tools to facilitate communication between HR, hiring managers, and new hires, to keep everyone on the same page. It uses AI to personalize the onboarding experience for individuals, offering flexibility in how content and information are delivered.

The tool has 4.8/5 stars on G2.

3. Dashworks

Dashworks enhances employee onboarding by providing instant answers to company questions. Its AI knowledge assistant, Dash AI, connects with tools like Notion, Gsuite, Slack, Salesforce, Github, and others to provide up-to-date, secure, private, and on-demand access to a company’s internal knowledge.

Dash AI enables new hires to take charge of their own onboarding by giving them the ability to ask questions, understand company policies, get context on past projects, and identify stakeholders without having to bother teammates. 

It personalizes results and answers based on role. Hiring managers also have the ability to add “verified answers” for frequently-asked questions that are repeatedly asked by new hires. Finally, it can also be easily added to Slack channels where it can automatically identify and respond to questions.

The tool has a 4.5/5 rating on G2.

Streamline your AI onboarding process using Dashworks

By using Dashworks, organizations like Endeavor and Swiggy streamlined their onboarding process and enhanced their overall employee experience. The platform’s ability to provide a centralized knowledge hub, multi-platform Q&A, and efficient search capabilities makes it a valuable asset for any company looking to tap into the power of AI onboarding. Here are some of Dashworks’ core benefits:

  • Centralized knowledge hub — Dashworks acts as a comprehensive knowledge repository, bridging information gaps for new hires and facilitating a smoother transition into the organization.
  • Enhancing remote onboarding — Dashworks effectively replaces the natural information flow of physical offices, ensuring seamless access to crucial data in remote work settings.
  • Minimizing distractions for deep work — The platform significantly reduces the time employees spend searching for information, thereby enhancing focus and productivity.
  • Seamless integration into existing workflows — Dashworks offers a near-invisible integration with existing systems, allowing for effortless adaptation and minimal disruption to current workflows.


Learn more here

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