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Using Free Onboarding Software to Grow Your Small Business

Onboarding affects the whole employee lifecycle. Here’s how SMBs can use free tools to help.

Chris Hatler
HR tech researcher, writer and editor
January 7, 2021
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For small businesses, efficiency is everything. Having highly engaged employees is essential, not only from a productivity standpoint, but also a financial standpoint. 

As such, you want to engage your employees from the very start of their journey to see the best results. Luckily, there are numerous free onboarding tools available that provide great functionality for the small business on a budget. 

A new employee shaking hands as he is being onboarded

When an employee moves on to another opportunity, it can cost up to 33% of their salary to replace them. It’s understood that most employees won’t stay forever, so the cost of replacing them isn’t usually a big deal. As long as they have contributed to your company’s growth over their tenure, the hire was worth it. 

But what if I said that according to a 2018 study by Jobvite, nearly one-third of job seekers say they have left a position within the first 90 days? All of a sudden, you’re spending money to onboard and offboard within a three month window. On top of that, it can take weeks to months for employees to measurably impact your company. If they’re gone before they’re contributing, it’s a sunk cost.  

Financially, it makes sense to do everything you can to keep your employees around. It goes without saying that you want them to have a positive employee experience too.

Onboarding software solutions are specifically designed to engage and educate new employees from the first day of their employee lifecycle onwards. As a small company with few employees, each individual hire becomes more valuable. 

What does free onboarding software do to help my SMB?

Organize onboarding process

As previously mentioned, efficiency is everything. You'll get customizable onboarding checklists and in-depth workflow templates to keep your whole HR team on the same page. And if they aren’t, built-in notification systems let them know when to complete tasks. Overall, these functions make the hiring process much smoother. 

Screenshot of an onboarding checklist

Image caption: Example of BambooHR’s onboarding workflow

Streamline training modules

New team members often feel overwhelmed in a new position. There are new responsibilities, coworkers, products, services, missions and values they have to learn while simultaneously completing other onboarding tasks. 

Employee onboarding software makes training user-friendly. Your human resources team creates training plans that include step-by-step learning assessments, mentorship connections with senior staff, and self-service document kits including employee handbooks. 

New hires can do all of this on their own through the software in real-time, saving hiring managers and other HR team members extra time. 

Build strong employee culture

Your company mission and values are essential to its identity. As such, you must introduce new hires to your culture early on to ensure they assimilate effectively. 

Free onboarding software lets you weave your culture into every step of the process. You’ll be able to:

  • Intertwine values and mission statements into your communications with the new hire. 
  • Schedule welcome events to introduce them to your company and people. 
  • Match them with a peer who can be their go-to person as they get comfortable with the role. 

All of these efforts contribute to a positive onboarding experience, which will in turn make them excited to get to work, leading to great employee culture over time. Sounds like an easy way to improve retention by 82% doesn’t it? 

Automate tedious HR processes

A clutter of paperwork filling a room

Paperwork is a headache. It’s the main reason onboarding is so monotonous. 

Free onboarding software takes you from paperwork to paperless. The solutions use automation to send offer letters, background checks, W2s, payroll/benefits forms, NDAs, employee handbooks and more directly to employees. 

Employees then complete forms on their own time, freeing up everyone else’s. Mobile functionality makes e-signatures easy as a bonus. 

What ROI will free onboarding software provide?

Onboarding platforms bring new hires up to speed quickly, which means they can start making an impact sooner. In addition, properly engaged employees will stay with your company longer, making them worth the onboarding costs and saving you the offboarding costs. Not to mention it’s free software!

By increasing retention, your business prevents costly turnover and saves time, money and effort on recruiting. You'll also see a more productive work environment and higher employee engagement. 

For more information on the best vendors, benefits, and ROI, check out our free employee onboarding software guide. If your company is ready to graduate to a paid software with enhanced features, check out our best employee onboarding software guide as well, including pricing and pitfall information.

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Chris Hatler

Chris was the content marketing manager at SSR between 2020 and 2021 during which time he researched and published in-depth buyer guides to help HR professionals source and buy the best software solutions for their business. He's now a highly sought-after writer and editor based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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