The workplace-themed comic strip “Dilbert” once explored the issue of employee onboarding, with a cartoon showing a new hire navigating a series of challenges on their first day in the office. You’d think not having a office space would be bad enough, but then the new employee was asked by HR to review a gigantic binder of paperwork. Dilbert half-jokingly advised him to “try giving up hope” as a solution.
While certainly not that dire, it gets at something about the frustration felt by many employees and employers during onboarding. A mere 12 percent of employees think their organizations excel at onboarding, according to a Gallup survey. Another report found less than 10 percent of HR decision-makers felt completely satisfied with their companies’ approaches to onboarding.
Lots of paperwork, repetitive manual activities and a relatively high risk of costly errors on tax and other employment forms: It all adds up to onboarding processes that waste time and money, while also negatively impacting employee retention. Making life easier for everyone – without jeopardizing your compliance along the way – is possible, by automating many of the tasks and procedures integral to onboarding. Let’s look at a few tips for making this happen.
1. Streamline and centralize access to employee forms
It’s not uncommon for an organization to manage 100+ compliance forms related to onboarding, akin to all of the papers filling up that big binder for Dilbert’s new employee. These forms are expensive to produce and time-consuming to fill out.
Moreover, dedicated personnel might be needed to ensure that each employee receives the right forms to fill out. Manual, paper-based processes further add to the workload, and their negative effects can filter down to employees, who might become frustrated by the company’s outdated systems.
A self-service platform greatly improves the experience for all stakeholders in the onboarding process. Forms are centralized in one location that is fully and securely accessible to employees from anywhere they have an internet connection. HR and Payroll don’t have to sink so much time into the tedious and error-prone work of managing these forms on their own.
In fact, the online portal will automatically present the appropriate forms for each employee based on their address and role. That way, they’re not presented with irrelevant paperwork or, worse, not given an important form.
2. Simplify federal, state and local compliance
Traditional onboarding processes often create openings for costly mistakes and potential noncompliance. For example, the manual processing of each employee’s paperwork could lead to withholding the wrong amount of tax, resulting in your company owing some employees a lot of back pay or the employee not having enough tax withheld at the end of the year.
These sorts of issues are further complicated by the enormous variance of withholding regulations between jurisdictions. Every state has its own unique set of forms, plus the rapid pace of new legislation and regulations at the state level means they’re constantly changing.
Local tax withholding can also come into play. Cities and counties in multiple states, especially across the Midwest, levy local income taxes that must be withheld from employee wages.
Keeping up with these complex regulatory requirements can feel overwhelming. However, dedicated HR and Payroll service providers can take care of this job so that you don’t have to. With the aid of a regularly maintained library of state compliance forms reflecting the current landscape, they make sure that each employee fills out the applicable forms.
3. Don’t overlook data security during onboarding
Rules such as the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation are reshaping how many types of information, including employee and HR data, are handled. Future regulations in this vein could have important ramifications for the onboarding process.
As employers continue to focus on cybersecurity, it starts at onboarding. If you don’t require Two Factor Authentication to access your employee systems, you should. Unauthorized access to employee information would be both non-compliant and costly.
This is why it’s important to work with partners that prioritize data security. Certifications such as SOC 2 Type II are good indicators of how well a service provider facilitates the secure handling of sensitive employee data. In the age of anytime/anywhere access to cloud-based systems, the importance of robust access controls and data security can’t be overstated.