Digital Employee Onboarding: The Complete Guide

Posted on
June 25, 2024
Billy Mike
from myQuest

What a world we live in! While our parents had to always be present at their workplaces, we now can embrace geographic flexibility, being thousands of miles away from the office. Yet, such a situation poses a challenge: How do you help new hires integrate into the business processes?

If they attend the office, it's much easier to show the entire process, give training materials, and teach. However, this doesn't mean all the talents should be able to come to your building. These days, remote and hybrid workforces are commonplace, so you don't want to lose new employees just because they're unable to be physically at your place.

With efficient digital employee onboarding, you can introduce a new team member as smoothly as with traditional onboarding. Even more, such an approach offers unique advantages, such as:

  • the ability to customize onboarding experiences;
  • automating repetitive tasks;
  • an opportunity to automatically track employee progress;
  • managing a global team efficiently.

Thanks to digital onboarding tools, HR managers can also operate from anywhere and hire employees remotely. This is a win-win and forward-looking situation as the trend toward remote work continues to grow. In this article, we'll show you how to set up a digital onboarding process, what employee onboarding software exists, and how to ensure high employee engagement.

What Is Digital Employee Onboarding?

Digital employee onboarding is the same thing as traditional onboarding, yet it's done online using various tools to welcome and train new hires. As such, this process involves everything you may have already done offline:

  • share documents and relevant resources with new employees;
  • discuss work-related stuff;
  • answer the arising questions;
  • educate on corporate processes and team-specific tasks and software;
  • collect employee feedback;
  • track the progress and key performance indicators and award points for completing certain steps if your company practices such things.

While this onboarding process doesn't require in-person sessions, it's equally applicable in companies that practice on-site, remote, and hybrid work cultures. To start onboarding digitally, you need to install dedicated online tools. The new hire will also need to either download the app or register on the website to get access to training modules, company policies, and other necessary digital resources.

Digital onboarding tools may include:

  • online portals;
  • video tutorials;
  • collaboration software.

For example, a new employee might start onboarding by watching an introductory video, followed by e-learning courses. Digital onboarding also encompasses automated workflows for routine tasks like filling out tax forms or setting up direct deposit. Thanks to modern solutions like e-signatures, companies can handle all necessary paperwork efficiently and securely. The digital onboarding process doesn't end with integrating new hires into a company but extends to ongoing support.

Here is a brief comparison of traditional onboarding vs. digital onboarding:

Emerging Trends in Digital Onboarding

One of the most hotly debated matters nowadays is artificial intelligence (AI). Apart from coding and content creation, this technology can also be applied to specific onboarding tasks. Tools like ChatGPT can be a powerful, independent solution or be integrated into existing corporate infrastructure to improve the employee experience in various ways:

  • communicate with people, instantly responding at any given moment;
  • summarize lengthy documents, highlighting only pertinent information to a particular person;
  • retrieve the response from a vast database in seconds, saving HR specialists time on searching.

Another trend worth noting is the integration of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). These create immersive training experiences for new employees, such as the ability to interact with operating machinery in a safe, controlled environment.

Finally, there is a growing emphasis on continuous onboarding. People may change their roles and responsibilities. The processes also evolve. This never-ending approach is essential for ensuring job satisfaction and retention. And as remote work has seamlessly woven into our daily routine, onboarding employees from a distance is not an option but a necessity.

The Benefits of Digital Onboarding

To show you why digital onboarding works better than traditional, in-person onboarding, consider these advantages:

  • Efficiency and consistency: You can automate tasks that may have taken hours, if not days, and centralize all the paperwork in one database. This setup ensures that every new employee receives the same information and training, promoting consistency across the board. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), when new hires go through the standardized onboarding process, their productivity increases by 50%.
  • Cost reduction: No more expenses on printing documents, organizing in-person training, and hiring external trainers. Digital onboarding software lets you keep and share everything online, reducing costs associated with printing and storage.
  • Improved employee retention rates and engagement: There is a wide range of content types you can leverage, such as video tutorials, quizzes, and gamified learning modules, to make training more enjoyable. Remote onboarding done right can also strengthen retention. How? As remote employees learn about the company’s values, goals, and workflows, it creates a sense of belonging from day one. It shows you pay equal attention to the on-site and remote workforce, ensuring everyone blends impeccably.
  • Enhanced support and accessibility: Instant assistance is essential for successful onboarding. Many digital onboarding platforms feature chat functions and support systems for 24/7 communication. As such, you equip new employees with everything they need to succeed from the very beginning—a cornerstone of the whole employee lifecycle.

The Digital Employee Onboarding Process


The onboarding process starts even before a new employee joins the team. This stage is called preboarding. You need to prepare digital recruitment documents for new hires to sign:

  • employment contracts;
  • tax forms;
  • policy acknowledgments.

Tools like DocuSign and SignNow make this process uninterrupted, enabling a new hire to review and sign their contract on a mobile device within minutes. This preliminary setup also encompasses the following:

  • setting up email accounts;
  • providing access to essential software;
  • creating login credentials.

Pro Tip: Create an introductory video or company overview. Build excitement and prepare new hires for their first day.

Welcoming and Orientation

Once new hires are in a team, ensure a warm welcome and introduction to company culture. This may include:

  • a personalized video message from the CEO or their team leader;
  • virtual welcome sessions with their colleagues on Zoom or Microsoft Teams;
  • an e-learning module with a virtual office tour showcasing different departments, key team members, and the company’s mission, values, and expectations.

Training and Development

After the initial onboarding process, it's time to start the job training. This can happen in a day or week once the new hire joins the company. It's a good idea to introduce the training softly during the first phase by assigning readings and simple activities.

Online libraries with short and interactive courses play a key role in digital onboarding. That's where learning management systems (LMS) like myQuest can help. There, you can create and publish customized lessons tailored to each employee’s role and the company’s processes, as well as track progress through analytics.

However, educating employees should extend beyond the HR department. Employ experienced mentors or onboarding buddies to provide answers and guidance via virtual meetings and instant messaging platforms.

Integration and Collaboration

Of course, people shouldn't learn in isolation from other colleagues. Facilitate collaboration through dedicated tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Trello. Hold virtual team-building activities like online trivia games or virtual coffee breaks. Additionally, regular check-ins with team leaders via video calls keep new hires engaged and integrated into their teams.

Ongoing Support and Feedback

Make sure people can access resources like FAQs, knowledge bases, and help desks even after onboarding. Plus, collect feedback from new hires online to see what's working and what's not. Ask them to complete a quick survey with one question each day for the first three weeks. It can be as simple as rating their satisfaction on a scale from 0 to 10.

Best Practices for Effective Digital Employee Onboarding Experience

Craft the Efficient Onboarding Experience from the Onset

Onboarding is more than just initial training. To make people feel at ease in a new place, send a personalized welcome email and outline your expectations. Be clear about the pace at which you want that person to complete the required steps and encourage them to reach out whenever they stumble upon a roadblock.

Create Straightforward and Concise Onboarding Documents

New hires already have a lot to take in, so make their lives easier by providing concise, understandable onboarding documents. Avoid lengthy, jargon-filled texts. Use bullet points, infuse visuals and infographics, and list instructions.

Grant Access to the Company's Systems and Digital Tools

It's always hard to visualize the information without the ability to explore the mentioned solutions. Still, some companies don't give immediate access to their software. When this occurs, people may apply lessons learned in other organizations and misuse the tools. For instance, providing a Salesforce audit checklist during onboarding can help ensure new hires use the CRM effectively and in compliance with company standards.

Treat Employee Onboarding as a Continuous Process

Onboarding may take not only several weeks but months. Moreover, it's wise not to stop updating employees on policies and procedures throughout the whole period of working with you. Platforms like myQuest can host courses for long periods, allowing people to complete them at their own pace. Continuous onboarding leads to higher retention rates and job satisfaction.

Make Sure Every Interaction Reflects Your Company Culture

Be consistent in your communication with employees. Consider the company values and share them via any possible touchpoint:

  • emails (the language and wording);
  • onboarding materials (design, visuals, and message);
  • team meetings (discussion topics and presentation style);
  • office environment (decor, layout, and workspace setup).

Let's assume your company promotes mental well-being, stress management, and burnout prevention. Incorporate wellness resources and activities, such as counseling services, mindfulness apps, and stress management workshops. But use the opportunity to demonstrate your commitment through small interactions:

  • include sessions on work-life balance;
  • encourage regular breaks;
  • promote an open dialogue.

Encourage Getting Help and Facilitate Early Success

Employees may have different backgrounds, so some may hesitate to ask questions, fearing it'll impact their reputation. Let them know it’s okay to ask questions (however primitive those may seem to them) and seek assistance. It's wise to assign a person like a mentor whom the new talent can refer to. Highlight small successes to enhance an employee's motivation and sense of achievement.

Combine Digital Onboarding with Traditional Methods

Finally, arrange physical activities when feasible. While going digital yields advantages, traditional methods like retreats, happy hours, and parties are still effective and can only reinforce your company culture and team cohesion. Think of alternative ways to collaborate in person, such as getting together as a team for work or leisure. These occasional instances of working and relaxing together can boost employee morale.

Challenges of Digital Onboarding

Onboarding processes, while convenient, may also pose some threats to employee success. When setting up your onboarding flow, keep in mind the following challenges and proactively minimize their consequences:

  • Feeling of isolation: Limited interactions, the lack of face-to-face meetings, and the inability to quickly pop over to a co-worker’s desk can make new hires feel disconnected. It's harder to get to know others when you can't just chat with them like what naturally happens in an office setting.
  • Information overload: With all the onboarding materials and tools, it's easy to get bogged down during the first days of employment. What you can say in minutes may become a 10-page document that takes half an hour to read. A new manager is scheduling a call to check up on. A colleague tries to be supportive and sends messages on how to use the tool. The result? A new hire is bombarded with dozens of documents, videos, and online courses all at once, becoming stressed and confused.
  • Engagement and motivation challenges: A person can rapidly lose their interest when no one is around, and they’re responsible for keeping their focus on impersonal and monotonous onboarding activities themselves. This happens when onboarding only involves reading through lengthy documents. No interactivity. No engagement.

Overcoming Challenges in Digital Employee Onboarding

  • Personalizing the digital onboarding experience: Personalization is a winning strategy for employee success as it is for customer success. Getting relevant suggestions tailored just for one particular person can quickly get them pumped up about their new company.
  • Use of varied content types: Utilize interactive components of your onboarding software, such as games, quizzes, contests, and videos. Award points or digital badges for various achievements. Regular gratification boosts engagement, inspires, and prevents new employees from getting bored. According to statistics, personalized benefits boost employee well-being by 51%.
  • Seamless communication and feedback loops: A key component of digital onboarding processes is constant and transparent communication. Compared to someone who can rapidly resolve issues in person, remote workers may need to be more proactive in reaching out with queries or seeking clarification. So, introduce collaboration tools, regular check-ins, and progress discussions.
  • Break down the content into bite-sized pieces: This tip aims to reduce information overload. Give the material in manageable chunks with a distinct beginning and end.

Best Digital Employee Onboarding Tools

  1. Video conferencing tools
    • Zoom: An easy-to-use platform for connecting with the team in groups or one-on-one. It supports 100 participants per 40-minute meetings for free, with more capabilities under paid plans.
    • Microsoft Teams: A tool that lets you hold virtual meetings, integrates with Office 365, and provides robust collaboration features like file sharing, tasks, polling, etc.
  2. Human resource management systems (HRMS)
    • Bamboo HR: Unifies all the HR and onboarding flows in one place. It serves to track progress, automate preboarding and welcome emails, and manage company events.
    • Zenefits: An all-in-one HR solution that assists managers and employees throughout the process, from making the offer to retiring or leaving the company.
  3. Employee engagement tools
    • Slack: A team communication platform where people can create channels or collaborate in DMs, attach files, and engage in calls (named Huddles).
    • Bonusly: Streamlines the process of rewarding employees. It connects to your existing tech stack and lets team members redeem the rewards right in the app.
  4. Learning management systems (LMS)
    • myQuest: Allows you to build personalized training programs and turn them into meaningful experiences. Being AI-powered, it offers unique capabilities like content development and translation, intelligent recommendations, natural language processing, text-to-speech conversion, predictive analysis, quiz generation, and more.
    • Eduflow: An interactive digital onboarding platform designed for step-by-step onboarding processes and gathering feedback. It helps split onboarding into smaller units according to your business goals.
    • Whatfix: A digital adoption platform for generating bulk personalized and captivating onboarding checklists. Allows teams to create task lists, share them across the organization, and measure the completion rates.
  5. Onboarding apps
    • Connecteam: An all-embracing app where employees can go through the onboarding procedures set up by HR professionals. You can leverage customizable quizzes, surveys, and forms to ensure employees actually remember the information they have learned. Adding links, PDFs, videos, and other resources to your lessons is also straightforward.


Finding a new job is always thrilling—new colleagues, unfamiliar responsibilities, and fresh perspectives on your sphere of expertise. However, this event triggers a long chain of necessary procedures, from dealing with the legalities of hiring new people to educating them on using corporate tools.

Onboarding remote workers can be a bit more demanding than a traditional approach. However, this method can bring unique benefits when done with the right digital onboarding software. If you're planning an effective onboarding program, consider tools like myQuest. Simplify the adaptation of new employees and let your company foster a welcoming environment.

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