Why HR managers should automate their employee onboarding process with Microsoft Power Automate
By Matt Weston, Managing Director, Vantage 365
It’s often said that first impressions matter, and there are few places where this is truer than in the workplace.
When starting a job, it is only natural that employees want a proper introduction to their new company and colleagues, as well as to the various practices and processes that they will need to adhere to. If they don’t feel that they get this – and are instead just thrown in at the deep end with little to no explanation about what they’re doing – this can be a big red flag that leaves many questioning whether they’ve made the right decision. Indeed, in a recent Gartner survey of 1,000 new hires, 50% said they planned to quit soon, citing a poor onboarding experience as one of the main reasons for this.
As such, it is vital for HR managers to ensure that the onboarding process goes as smoothly as possible for new recruits so that they feel properly acclimated to their new surroundings and responsibilities. The problem, however, is that, with the myriad duties that come with being an HR manager, it can be a struggle to find the time to properly devote to onboarding new employees. In many cases, this is partly why workers feel disappointed with the introduction they’ve been given to their new role, and unprepared for all the responsibilities that come with it.
In response to the growing need for streamlined onboarding processes, HR managers are increasingly turning to automation tools within the Microsoft 365 Applications Suite to enhance the onboarding experience for new hires. By leveraging the capabilities of these tools, HR managers can unlock a range of benefits that not only improve efficiency but also create a more comprehensive and engaging onboarding process.
Understanding Microsoft Power Automate
The Microsoft 365 Applications Suite provides a robust platform for automating various aspects of the onboarding journey. By integrating tools such as Power Apps, Power Automate, and SharePoint, HR managers can design and implement automated workflows that encompass everything from data collection and document generation to task management and communication.
Microsoft Power Automate is a cloud-based service that allows users to create automated workflows across various applications and services. With its intuitive drag-and-drop interface and extensive library of connectors, Power Automate enables HR & IT departments to integrate and automate processes without the need for complex coding. By leveraging this powerful tool, businesses can streamline their operations and eliminate repetitive tasks, ultimately saving time, reducing errors, and enhancing overall productivity.
Benefits of Automating Employee Onboarding
By automating the employee onboarding process through Power Automate, HR managers can unlock a multitude of benefits for both the organisation and its employees. Let’s explore some of these benefits in more detail:
- Improved Efficiency and Time Savings: Automating employee onboarding eliminates manual, repetitive tasks and paperwork, allowing HR managers to save valuable time. For example, running our own onboarding process through Power Automate has saved us around six of hours of work per employee. With Power Automate, processes such as data entry, form filling, and document generation can be automated, reducing administrative burdens and streamlining the overall onboarding experience. This increased efficiency enables HR managers to allocate their time and resources more strategically.
- Enhanced Employee Experience: First impressions matter, and a well-structured onboarding process sets the stage for a positive employee journey. Power Automate enables HR managers to create personalised onboarding experiences for new hires. By automating the delivery of essential information, welcome messages, and access to relevant resources, employees feel supported and engaged right from the start. This personalised approach fosters a sense of belonging, boosts morale, and improves overall job satisfaction.
- Standardised Processes and Compliance: Manual onboarding processes often lack consistency and standardisation, leading to discrepancies and potential compliance issues. By utilising Power Automate, HR managers can establish standardised workflows and templates, ensuring that all necessary steps and documentation are completed consistently and in accordance with company policies and regulatory requirements. This reduces the risk of errors, omissions, and non-compliance, thereby mitigating potential legal and operational risks.
- Centralised Data and Information: Power Apps allows for seamless integration with other Microsoft 365 tools and systems, creating a centralised hub for employee data and information. HR managers can easily access and manage employee records, track progress, and monitor onboarding tasks from a single platform. This centralised approach improves data accuracy, eliminates information silos, and facilitates collaboration among HR team members and other stakeholders involved in the onboarding process.
- Real-Time Communication and Collaboration: Effective communication is crucial during the onboarding phase. Power Automate provides HR managers with the ability to automate notifications, reminders, and alerts to keep both new hires and relevant stakeholders informed and engaged. Additionally, the platform enables collaboration by allowing multiple users to work on shared tasks or documents simultaneously. This real-time collaboration fosters efficient decision-making, reduces delays, and promotes a cohesive onboarding experience.
- Scalability and Flexibility: As organisations grow and evolve, their onboarding requirements may change. Power Automate offers scalability and flexibility to adapt to evolving needs. HR managers can easily modify workflows, add or remove steps, and incorporate new processes or systems as required. This agility allows organisations to scale their onboarding processes efficiently, whether they are onboarding a handful of new employees or managing larger-scale recruitment initiatives.
- Compliance and Security: Employee onboarding involves handling sensitive information, such as personal data, employment contracts, and legal documents. Manual processes can pose risks of data breaches or non-compliance with data protection regulations. By automating the onboarding process with Power Automate, organisations can establish secure data handling practices, implement role-based access controls, and ensure compliance with relevant regulations, such as GDPR or HIPAA.
A win-win situation
It is not only employees who stand to benefit from onboarding automation via Power Automate. There are many processes associated with onboarding that HR managers can automate through the platform. For example, managers can automatically migrate employee information from application tracking systems to Power Automate, or automate mundane, low-value tasks like generating email addresses and network usernames. Because Power Apps can interact with and tap into data from other Microsoft 365 services that a company uses, HR managers can get new employees connected with the various other tools that they will need to use on a day-to-day basis. Having access to all the information and resources they will need in one location can make coming on board a far more seamless experience for new hires, and avoid any additional burden being placed on HR departments.
In addition to onboarding new recruits, Power Automate can also help support crossboarding – the process of onboarding existing employees transferring to new roles within the organisation – or offboarding – when a worker leaves the company. As such, the platform is capable of fulfilling a vast range of functions to assist HR managers in their responsibilities and free them up to focus on duties where their direct involvement can provide more value. This includes instances where an employee may have a particular issue that they would like to raise, and having the opportunity to speak to an HR representative in person could prove helpful to them. With Power Automate capable of handling various high-volume, low-value tasks – including the admin surrounding the onboarding process – HR managers can feel that they can dedicate more time to the areas of their work where they can truly make a difference.
Matt Weston is the Managing Director of Vantage 365, a Midlands-based technology company that specialises in providing vital IT support to businesses of all sizes when it is needed the most. He is recognised as a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional [MVP], and is certified as a Microsoft Certified Trainer, a Microsoft 365 Certified Enterprise Administrator Expert, and as a Microsoft Certified Power Platform developer.