Professional environments are seeing quite a bit of unpredictability these days, from market demand to labor markets to evolving technology and strategies. One thing that’s true for nearly everyone, though, is that hiring and retaining talent has become more complex, and most brands find themselves needing to refresh their human assets more frequently than before.
In other words, it’s more important than ever to set new team members up for success and give them ample reason to stick around for the long haul. And that starts with the onboarding process.
Luckily, there are tools that can make onboarding employees easier, less frustrating and more effective. Let’s take a look at a few of the top contenders.
- Top onboarding software comparison
- Top onboarding software
- Key features of onboarding software
- How do I choose the best onboarding software for my business?
Top onboarding software comparison
There are plenty of nuances to a discussion like this one, so you’ll find additional details in the sections below (plus links to in-depth reviews on each). But this table should give some high-level comparisons across the picks in this list.
|Starting monthly price||Employee self-service||Workflow management||Integration support||Reporting|
|BambooHR||Custom quote||Yes||Yes||Yes, but lacks learning center||Limited||Try BambooHR
|Rippling||$8/user||Yes||Yes||Yes (prioritizes Rippling tools)||Yes||Try Rippling
|Paycor||Custom quote||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Try Paycor
|Zenefits||$8/employee||Yes (including mobile)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Try Zenefits
|Seismic Learning||Custom quote||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Try Seismic Learning
BambooHR: Best overall onboarding software
BambooHR is a full-service HR solution, covering everything from hiring and onboarding to employee experience to payroll and benefits. Designed with small businesses in mind, it helps growing teams alleviate pain points surrounding the management of teams, company culture, performance improvements and more.
- Contact BambooHR for pricing.
- Customizable onboarding templates allow you to create personalized packets for new employees, tailoring their new hire experiences based on department, job type, location and more.
- Workflow and task scheduling enables management to keep new hires on task, assigning duties for them to complete with deadlines.
- Electronic document management gives you the tools you need to administer new hire documents, complete with native digital signing.
- An intuitive self-service portal reduces workload for HR staff while helping new hires become familiar with the company quickly, on their own terms.
- Customizable onboarding.
- Electronic documents.
- User-friendly user interface.
- Commitment-free subscriptions.
- Lacks pricing transparency.
- Minimal support documentation for integrations and other back-end work.
- Limited built-in reporting features.
For more information, read the full BambooHR review.
Rippling: Best remote onboarding experience
Another solution that’s part of an expansive platform, Rippling’s learning management system tool is merely one of a host offered by the vendor, spanning use cases from HR to IT to finance. In particular, Rippling’s onboarding and employee training software is designed to automate much of the process, reducing workloads for HR staff and streamlining processes involved in employee enrichment.
- Plans start at $8 per month per user, with costs varying depending on plan, chosen services and more. Contact Rippling for more information.
- Automated learning via intelligent course assignment.
- Rapid deployment and convenient access via cloud-based hosting.
- Ready-to-use training content available in Rippling’s library can fill in gaps in your current training resources.
- Automated compliance support for teams with governance, risk and compliance concerns.
- Comprehensive automation functionality minimizes busywork and redundancies.
- Native functionality for compliance, certification verification and training management.
- Expansive library of training resources available to use.
- Listed pricing provides base cost, but still requires a quote for full pricing.
- No available free trial.
- Automation features come with a steep learning curve.
For more information, read the full Rippling review.
Paycor: Best for midsize to large companies
Paycor bills itself as a full-fledged human capital management suite, complete with built-in compliance solutions. Covering HR duties such as payroll, expense management, benefits and others, it boasts robust financial tools for brands that need such functionality in addition to onboarding and training support. Perhaps most notably, Paycor features leadership-specific advancement training, helping teams level up their middle management.
- Contact Paycor for pricing.
- Contracting Officer’s Representative Leadership framework helps train management staff and improve their skills.
- Can be configured for industry-specific implementations, from healthcare to education and beyond.
- Enables HR staff to begin the onboarding process before a new hire’s first day, helping new team members hit the ground running.
- Digital documents and task automation minimizes busywork, document management hassles and record keeping woes.
- Helps reduce compliance risks across a number of heavily regulated industries.
- Eliminates the need for physical documents related to employee onboarding.
- Enables teams to begin engaging new staff early and keep them engaged longer.
- No publicly listed pricing information.
- Most plans require additional setup fees to get started.
For more information, read the full Paycor review.
Zenefits: Best employee experience
The only entry in this list to heavily feature their mobile functionality in their branding, Zenefits is a solution for end users, first and foremost. While other tools (including some on this very list) prioritize ease-of-use and optimized processes for HR staff and back-end labor, Zenefits instead puts convenience for the rest of the team front and center, making it easier for management to get buy-in and increase adoption rates.
- Essentials: $10 per month per employee or $8 per month per employee billed annually.
- Growth: $20 per month per employee or $16 per month per employee billed annually.
- Zen: $33 per month per employee or $27 per month per employee billed annually.
- Recruiting (add-on): Starts at $35 per month.
- Empower new hires to complete onboarding tasks in under 10 minutes.
- Make job offers directly from the platform.
- Manage candidates, new hires and current staff all from the same platform.
- Functionality covers HR, benefits, payroll and even time tracking and scheduling.
- Reduce time spent onboarding employees by 50%.
- Give users access to the platform via mobile, simplifying onboarding, benefits management and more.
- Boost new hire task completion rates and adoption rates for current staff.
- Recruiting and onboarding features require an add-on for full functionality.
- Lacks the same robust compliance enablement as other entries on this list.
For more information, read the full Zenefits review.
Seismic Learning (formerly Lessonly): Best for sales teams
Known previously as Lessonly, Seismic Learning is the onboarding and LMS portion of Seismic’s larger platform. Adept at facilitating ongoing training and intensive onboarding, Seismic Learning is a prime candidate for teams that need to provide extensive instruction to new hires and regular refreshers for veteran staff. Sales teams, customer support staff and other disciplines that benefit heavily from difficult-to-achieve standardizations are the target users.
- Contact Seismic for pricing.
- Designed around personalized coaching, empowering teams to learn and adopt best practices.
- Seamlessly integrates with an expansive variety of apps, making it easy to slot into existing tech stacks.
- Modules, packages and learning paths can be customized to employee experience, competence and needs.
- Built to support growing teams and exponential scaling.
- Supports concurrent training modules.
- Quickly design and deploy new courses with minimal learning curve.
- Many core features are separate add-ons.
- Minimum user count is 25, which may deter smaller organizations.
- Works best with a dedicated admin managing the learning system.
Key features of onboarding software
There are all kinds of bells and whistles that software as a service brands will happily flaunt in an effort to demonstrate their value. Not all of those features are directly related to your specific needs, though, or even with the foundational concerns that an effective onboarding solution should be addressing. Whatever your industry, whatever your niche, there are certain factors that will apply to nearly every decision-making process for brands looking for onboarding tools.
Unlike the tools that teams will leverage in their daily work, which will be specialized to their particular field of expertise, onboarding systems have to be used by everyone. At the same time, many learning systems only see implementation during an employee’s initial training period.
In other words, everyone will use it, but they may only use it once, so there’s no room for steep learning curves. It will have to accommodate all possible levels of tech literacy and provide the needed customization to meet the organization’s needs.
Onboarding staff involves a lot of paperwork, and using physical documents for that process only bogs things down. The user experience is better if documents can be filled, signed and stored digitally. Such a system is also more efficient for HR teams. Beyond that, digital storage makes retrieval, modification and other management tasks easier, as opposed to digging through filing cabinets.
Your onboarding platform may very well be part of a broader HR suite, but it might not be. Either way, there’s likely a number of other apps in the tech stack that handle a lot of the same information. Whether that’s calendar apps for scheduling onboarding and performance reviews, content libraries in the company intranet or even project management tools that assign training-related tasks to staff, integration can make a world of difference for both efficiency and ease-of-use.
Speaking of project management, making sure the correct training material is administered can prove problematic if there’s no way to keep the new employee on track. Setting up lesson plans, workflows and checklists are a critical part of the process if any amount of self-service is intended. Otherwise modules will likely go unfinished, or staff may complete irrelevant ones.
Reporting and oversight
Once all of the above is put in order, there has to be a way to track progress, see completion rates and gather data related to the whole process. Onboarding and training programs shouldn’t be stagnant — they should be optimized and improved over time. But any change is a shot in the dark unless you have data that can point to successes and failures. That’s where the reporting features come in.
How do I choose the best onboarding software for my business?
As with anything in the SaaS, platform as a service and infrastructure as a service markets, it all comes down to use case. Do you need compliance support? Are you struggling with adoption rates among your staff? Would outsourcing HR tasks be beneficial? Each tool and solution is designed to meet the demands of a handful of primary implementations, and outside those boundaries, the value props get a little fuzzy. So take a close look at what features are the most critical and start your search there.
While writing this article, we researched the vendors and their websites, as well as customer reviews and ratings to gain a full understanding of where each solution fits into the market landscape — and who they serve most effectively.
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