Monday September 15, 1997 - do you remember where you were? Chances are you don't, as it was just another Monday as far as US History is concerned. However, for me, that 258th day of the year corresponded with my first day of real employment. That’s right - this cum laude finance graduate was transforming into an entry level Fund Accountant at a major financial services institution!
Taking on a new role at a new company is always exciting. It can also be very stressful, especially for the new hire. Many of my colleagues had viewed me as “devoutly loyal” to my employers, as I had only left a company once in my first 16+ years of my career. And while I agree with their assessment, I can’t help but think that deep down inside I may have also been scarred from my “First Day” experiences of yesteryear, and couldn’t stand to bear another one! Let me explain …
On the aforementioned fall day in 1997, I was anxious to make a great first impression and arrived at 8:15 for my 9:00 start. Unfortunately, my HR contact was not as anxious as I, and the result was a chance for me to read and re-read all of the brochures in the reception area. Finally, at 9:15 … the moment all new hires are always waiting for … I was handed a three ring binder!!! And not just a ½ incher either - you know the one - 3 inches of HR Onboarding paperwork bulk. The standard lineup was there: W-4, I-9, 401k Elections, Direct Deposit, Non-Disclosure Agreements, Drug-Free Workplace Policy, Healthcare Application, Code of Conduct, etc. I had never written my middle name and social security number so many times in one sitting. Thankfully, it was now time for lunch …
There is an old saying that “pain has no memory.” And as time passed, the mental pain from that laborious and frustrating onboarding process that I experienced did abate.
Until May 19th, 2003.
That’s right - I did it again. I accepted a new role at a new firm and was heading into the new office for a new first day and a new onboarding experience. And since this new firm was much smaller, the process would surely be much easier, streamlined, and simpler … right?
Having learned my lesson from ‘97, I arrived to the new office at 9:00 on the dot where my new manager led me to my new desk (and relayed his expectation that I arrive no later than 8:00!), introduced me to my new colleagues, and BAM! - handed me the old three ring binder! I felt much like Ralphie from “A Christmas Story” must have when Santa told him that receiving a Red Rider BB gun would lead him to shoot his “eye out.” Despair. Disappointment. Disgust. I couldn’t believe that I had to go through this again. All of the old favorites were there of course … plus one: a “new” workplace history document to fill out! For the second time in my career, I would spend the majority of my important first day frustrated with paperwork, while my formerly frustrated colleagues sympathised and ensured me “it would get better.” Even so, I asked myself: “Why can’t this onboarding process be easier?”
Until November 2013!
A few weeks ago, I accepted a new role here at ClearCompany. The offer letter came on November 27th with a start date less than a week later. Since ClearCompany uses their own Paperless Onboarding Software that they support for hundreds of customers, I felt confident that the onboarding process would be better. I was further encouraged that I wouldn’t even have to wait until the first day to begin the process. In fact, with the offer letter signed, I received an email invitation Thanksgiving morning to login and onboard. That is correct - the three ring binder was online (sorry, Staples). ClearCompany has made it easier! No more hand-cramps after writing my personal information 15 times. No more calling my wife for my childrens’ social security number. This is brilliant!
I was in Chicago visiting family for Thanksgiving, and would need to figure out a way to find the time. What a terrible house guest I would be if I were to commandeer the host’s desktop and avoid family for multiple hours, especially on Thanksgiving. As luck would have it, I spied a perfect opportunity: Good Morning America was re-airing a performance by the band One Direction. The hosts, my kids, my wife, nieces, nephews and in-laws were all glued to the TV. It was the “Best Song Ever” indeed!
Quickly, I logged in to the Onboarding application and there they were - all the favorites. Up first was the W-4. I steeled myself for the process, but most of my information was already displaying. I just had to indicate “Married”, throw in my Social Security Number, and provide an electronic signature!?!? Done!
Moving on to the I-9 and Harry Styles hadn’t even gotten to the second chorus. Autopopulation! A couple of boxes to check and I was done with that one too.
Moving right along, I aced the Non-Disclosure and Confidentiality Agreement. I was flying, and at one point I may have even hummed “that’s what makes you beautiful” with the ClearCompany Paperless Onboarding process being the intended audience.
By the time my daughters had concluded that Niall was the better looking band member “when they dress for the cold,” I was done. It was so fast, convenient, and simple that nobody had even noticed that I was online - save my wife who commented “Wow hun, you set your Fantasy Football line-up so quickly!”
Needless to say - December 2nd was my favorite first day ever! I hit the ground running as early as I wanted, and continued hassle-free all day. And since ClearCompany had already received my information online, my user accounts were created. I was able to focus on productivity … and with a pain-free hand!It makes me wonder why some companies continue with an archaic onboarding process. It just doesn’t make sense. Well, unless you’re Staples….