Employers are missing a trick if their onboarding process for new employees fails to include the human touch and amounts to nothing more than a form-filling exercise, experts believe. 

At a fireside chat during our Zellis Connect customer conference, Jacqui Summons, Chief People Officer at EMIS Health and Non-Executive Director here at Zellis, explained the importance of human connection. 

“We’ve definitely seen some people join us during the pandemic and then leave us during the pandemic, and it’s something to do with the human connection that’s missing,” she said. “So onboarding can’t just be about form-filling – it’s about engaging individuals in the process.” 

Additionally, if people leave in the first 12 to 18 months of joining, they often cite a poor onboarding experience as part of the reason. “There are consequences if you don’t get it right, so there must be a brand element to it,” Summons said. 

The importance of brand 

Steve O’Neil, a background check consultant, agrees. “If you fail to push your brand and identity during onboarding, really it’s just the processes people are focusing on, and not the brand name they really need to relate to,” he pointed out. “If you treat them well here, they’ll stay longer, hit the ground running, be more productive sooner and maybe even return should they leave.” 

EMIS Health expects to roll out our background checking and onboarding service next year, but also intends to supplement it with company brand-related content, such as videos of key individuals in the business.  

Doing so is important, Summons believes, because form-filling, particularly in a background checking scenario, is quite sterile. As she pointed out: “If I’m filling in a form for this company, I might as well be filling it in for someone else.”  

Therefore, in order to engage people effectively, it’s imperative to clarify the company’s purpose – which in EMIS Health’s case is to supply software for the NHS – together with providing content that “really brings it to life”, Summons said. 

But even though many onboarding activities have been carried out virtually since the various lockdowns, she is not convinced that absolutely everything should be. “I think we should still have some form of physical meeting and bring together those who are joining,” Summons explained. “I’m not sure you can completely lose that human connection.” 

Creating a positive experience 

Another important consideration in ensuring a positive candidate and new joiner experience, is providing a seamless link between onboarding and background checking, enabled by technology, to make the “experience really special for someone coming in”, Summons said. 

But as O’Neil pointed out, most providers today focus on either offering background checks or onboarding software and services, but rarely combine the two into a single, effective offering.  

“It’s fantastic to have background checking done with an experiential wrapper and I think it’s a unique selling point for Zellis,” he said. “It puts a softer touch on things and really gradually introduces people.”  

In his view, “the experiential side and employee experience are the key factors in success or failure” and being able to offer the two services side-by-side is a “natural progression in the market”, he said. 

To learn more about how our professional background checking and onboarding services can help to attract and retain top talent, get in touch with us today, or visit our website