Onboarding is a critical part of the hiring process. It starts the moment a job offer has been accepted and covers all of the tasks that are required to ensure they become integrated into the organisation.

Contracts need to be signed, references checked, policies shared and all the administrative arrangements made for their first day. Managing this process takes up around a quarter of HR time, with the cost of onboarding per hire estimated to be £195*.

Crucially, these costs are incurred whether or not the onboarding process is successfully completed. And the number of candidates who drop out of the process, known as ‘non-boarding’, is a growing challenge facing HR.

A 2017 survey found that 15 percent of employees admit to having pulled out of jobs during the onboarding stage. The most common cause for this is that candidates are juggling a number of different job offers.

They will often look to ‘hedge their bets’ by accepting a role while continuing to explore alternative employment options. Drop-outs can also be caused by any kind of onboarding delays or frustrations during the process.

Challenge of identifying onboarding dropouts

To exacerbate the problem, many ‘non-boardees’ will fail to inform HR of their decision, they simply stop responding to communications. Paperwork isn’t completed, emails aren’t returned, calls go unanswered.

This practice, often referred to as ‘ghosting’, creates a particular headache for hiring teams as they struggle to identify the status of each candidate – are they simply slow to respond to a communication or have they dropped out?

It’s a problem that’s linked to the changing ways we interact in a world of digital and online communications. With less emphasis on face-to-face interactions, candidates don’t feel the same responsibility to keep potential employers informed.

The business consequences of ‘non-boarding’ can be significant with HR time and resources being multiplied without any organisational benefits received. The longer it takes to accurately identify ‘non-boardees’, the more wasted costs are incurred.

Compliance risks of ‘lost’ data

Another risk that’s posed is data compliance. Without effective strategies in place, data that’s collected for candidates who drop out during the onboarding process is liable to become ‘lost in the system’. The uncertainty over status leaves information in limbo.

This is a particular issue since the introduction of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) legislation. The ‘storage limitation’ requirement of GDPR sets out the need for hiring teams to remove any personal data that’s no longer relevant.

Tackling these problems requires improved ways to manage the onboarding process. It’s an area of HR which most organisations still handle manually, typically using a combination of posted paperwork, emails and phone calls.

It creates a slow and inefficient process, one which makes it difficult for HR to effectively monitor the status of each candidate. The longer the onboarding process takes, the higher the risks of non-boarding become.

A fast, efficient and engaging process reduces the risks that candidates will drop out. But when they do, an automated system gives HR the ability to quickly identify the issue and minimise the amount of resources wasted.

*data from webonboarding