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What is ‘expedited onboarding’ and how will AI influence it?

3 Jan 2024

Rob Porter of CoSo Cloud explains that the goal of expedited onboarding is to balance speed and effectiveness. AI tools such as chatbots and analytics can be a big help.

Virtual onboarding is one of the many legacies of the pandemic, and it is set to continue into the future – especially as hybrid working looks set to be a permanent fixture. But, like all things, virtual onboarding won’t remain static; it will change as the tech used to onboard staff changes. The workforce and company needs will also impact how virtual onboarding is done.

According to e-learning expert Rob Porter, “In a world where hybrid work models are the norm, traditional onboarding processes are no longer sufficient. Business leaders must streamline their onboarding to reduce delays and improve employee integration, especially in virtual environments.”

‘Expedited onboarding is about making the process smoother and faster, ensuring that new hires become productive team members without unnecessary delays’

Porter has years of experience in the e-learning field and is head of market and business development at CoSo Cloud, a company that provides tech services to clients training distributed workforces. As well as his work with CoSo Cloud, Porter has advised companies such as Nvidia, Microsoft and Adobe on building their e-learning programmes.

The phrase he uses to describe what he means by a streamlined virtual onboarding process is “expedited onboarding”.

“Expedited onboarding means quickly and efficiently getting new employees into a company. It’s about making the process smoother and faster, ensuring that new hires become productive team members without unnecessary delays.”

“This approach aims to speed up the usual onboarding timeline while still providing quality orientation and training.  Expedited onboarding is helpful in situations where a swift integration of new talent is essential, allowing organisations to harness their skills and contributions promptly. The goal is to balance speed and effectiveness in the onboarding journey.”

That means virtual methods or in-person methods can be used as long as they are efficient and effective. Another thing that is important to note is that the methods used to onboard staff should make sense. A hybrid working company perhaps shouldn’t mandate new staff to come in to an office for onboarding if they won’t be in an office full time after they are onboarded, for example.

Beyond traditional methods

Porter reckons that the current trends in the market indicate that companies will begin looking at “more personalised and flexible approaches, tailoring the onboarding experience to individual needs”.

Therefore, any technology that is used as part of the onboarding process must have some thought and intention behind it. “Overall, the future of virtual onboarding seems to revolve around a dynamic and interactive process that goes beyond traditional methods to ensure smoother, more engaging and effective integration for new team members,” says Porter.

“The integration of adaptive learning programmes, gamification and artificial intelligence is likely to play a crucial role in fostering engagement and addressing evolving preferences of new employees.”

AI, in particular, will drive the change to expedited onboarding. According to Porter, there will be “a strong emphasis” on integrating AI-powered tools such as chatbots. “These technologies will streamline user interactions, deliver real-time support and efficiently process substantial amounts of data to provide prompt assistance.”

Data analytics software and machine learning algorithms will also play an important part in determining the effectiveness of onboarding programmes for employees.

‘Overall, adopting AI onboarding techniques will likely span industries where efficiency, personalisation and data security are paramount’

Companies will be able to avail of “real-time feedback and precise fine-tuning of various onboarding aspects,” thanks to data analytics – in turn enabling HR leaders to provide personalised onboarding experiences.

In the more immediate future, Porter predicts that these AI-related changes will start impacting the IT and software development sectors first, before trickling down to other industries such as finance, banking and healthcare. For the health sector, Porter points out that, “AI can streamline the onboarding of medical professionals and support staff, ensuring compliance and personalised training.”

“Overall, adopting AI onboarding techniques will likely span industries where efficiency, personalisation and data security are paramount.”

Of course, AI is not the only ingredient involved in creating a quality onboarding experience. There are non-tech factors to be considered, too. Technology can – and should – be a useful tool to assist employers as they onboard staff, but not in a gimmicky way. There should be an emphasis on ongoing learning experiences such as continued upskilling opportunities, mentoring programmes and feedback. Those will be key to retaining talent.

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Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea joined Silicon Republic in 2021 as Careers reporter, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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