Three Tips that Will Make Onboarding Paperwork Easier for New Employees

Posted Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016 by Sterling Talent Solutions

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Three Tips that Will Make Onboarding Paperwork Easier for New Employees

More years ago than I care to admit, my family owned a recruiting and temporary staffing agency. Back in the day, our pre-employment package for contractors (we use to call them “temps”) consisted of three forms:

  • Employment application, which was a printed two-sided piece of card stock
  • Federal tax withholding W-4 form
  • Massachusetts state tax withholding form

That was it. Form I-9 was added as a required document a couple years later, and E-Verify wasn’t even a twinkle in a regulator’s eye. The only paperwork our temps had to do after being hired was a paper timecard—triplicate carbon paper form and all.

For a fresh college graduate starting their first job today, running the onboarding gauntlet can be as daunting as a mortgage agreement. The onboarding paperwork experience includes the application, authorizations and disclosures, background screening and verification, drug screening, federal tax withholding, state tax withholding, medical insurance and ACA forms, 401K, short-term and long-term disability, voluntary disclosure of disability, COBRA acknowledgement, non-compete agreement, employee handbook agreement, direct deposit, emergency contact, wage theft, EEO… gasp!… it is a lot of paperwork.

I recently had an opportunity to interview some college graduates who had just gone through an onboarding process. A common theme arose from all of them: the paperwork, whether electronic or paper, was a daunting task. When having to onboard using paper forms they universally talked about the same experience. It required an appointment, locked in a conference room with someone from HR, not understanding what was required on certain forms, and not having all of the required information with them to complete the tasks. Does this sound familiar?

To ease the onboarding process, organizations and HR need to consider the growing regulatory environment that we are in today and the mountains of required documentation. There are plenty of ways to be out of compliance, government or corporate: use an out-of-date form or miss a form altogether; overlook an employee walking away with vital intellectual property without a non-compete on file; fail to meet the requests of an ICE audit and suffer fines. So what is an HR professional to do? Plenty!

Have you ever spent time looking for a paper form trapped on a coworker’s desk? First thing’s first, if you’re still using paper it is time to move your onboarding paperwork into an electronic process. This provides consistency, ensures the required forms are completed on time with the right information in the right sequence, and provides you with a permanent digital record. It also helps make information easier to search for and share across locations.

In talking to HR professionals, one of the most dreaded questions when helping an employee with their paperwork is, “how many deductions should I write down?” We are many things, but a tax accountant is not one of them. Give your new hires the option to complete their onboarding paperwork at home before their first day. Every day new employees are asked to make critical, potentially life-altering choices on a Monday morning, with only seconds to think about it and without access to key resources to make an informed decision. Additionally, for forms regarding healthcare and life insurance, most people don’t have dependents’ or beneficiaries’ social security numbers with them, making these nearly impossible to fill out in a conference room setting. Letting your new hires complete their forms at their own pace before they start their job enables them to ask questions among experts within their own circle, find required information, and also means less time for you in a conference room. Leave the tax questions to the tax experts!

Finally, be patient with your new hires. The top four positive stressful events (is there really such a thing as positive stress?) are: buying a home, getting married, having children, and starting a new job. Talking to the recent college graduates, their number one resource for help with their new hire paperwork was their parents. As HR professionals, we live and breathe these forms every day. We know a W-4 from a W-9 from a Form I-9 and we have the Form I-9 List A, B, and C document requirements memorized. Your new bright-eyed candidate may have never completed these forms in their life. Always look at things through their perspective, and remember there is no such thing as a stupid question!

Learn more about how Sterling Talent Solutions can offer compliant, paperless onboarding so HR can breathe easier while providing new hires an awesome hiring experience!

Your Complete Guide to Onboarding From Decision to Day One

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