How to Automate Your New Hire HR Onboarding Paperwork and Tasks

by Mike Tannian on July 14, 2022

It’s time to overcome the challenges inherent to a manual onboarding process. Learn how to automate your public sector hiring with employee onboarding software.

Article Highlights

While a hiring manager might sigh in relief after a candidate accepts a job offer, every HR professional knows her job is just getting started. Before new hires can officially start their new roles, human resources must create, assign, and track all onboarding documents for completion.

With a manual onboarding process, HR has to maintain regular contact with the new hire to ensure these tasks are completed promptly. This can be overwhelming for everyone involved, especially if there isn’t one centralized place to track progress towards completing these time-sensitive tasks.

Put simply, a manual onboarding system not only increases the probability that important tasks fall through the cracks, but it also requires a much greater dedication of time and energy from both human resources and new hires.  

In this article, we’ll dive into the specific tasks that HR must complete as part of the onboarding process, including the challenges associated with a manual onboarding process. Then, we’ll discuss how NEOGOV’s new hire onboarding software, Onboard, alleviates these challenges by facilitating an automated onboarding process.  

The Problem: Manual Onboarding Processes

Human Resources must ensure that every new hire completes certain paperwork and onboarding tasks, some of which are federally mandated, within a specific timeframe. Below we discuss these tasks, including why it’s difficult to efficiently manage them with a manual onboarding process. 

HR new hire paperwork and onboarding tasks

The two forms listed in the table below are particularly significant when it comes to HR onboarding paperwork, as all employees are required by the federal government to fill them out. 

 Form Type

Purpose 

Federal W-4 Form

The W4 new hire form determines how much an employer needs to withhold from an employee’s paycheck for federal taxes.

Federal I-9 Form 

I-9 forms verify that an employee is legally authorized to work in the United States, whether he or she is a citizen or noncitizen.

 

Using tax forms like the W4, new employees enter information like their Social Security number, number of dependents, and marital status to determine their tax withholding. If a new hire doesn’t complete a W-4, then the employer is still responsible for withholding taxes at the single filer standard deduction rate.  

As required by the IRS, employers must withhold taxes “no later than the start of the first payroll period ending on or after the 30th day from the date you received the revised Form W-4.” This same rule applies to current employees who submit a revised W-4 form.

New hires must also complete and sign Section 1 of the I-9 form by the end of their first day of employment. It’s up to employers to complete and sign Section 2, which must be done within 3 business days of the date of hire.

Most public organizations require that employees complete a new hire orientation as part of their onboarding experience. HR designs and hosts these trainings to help new hires acclimate to company policies, procedures, and organizational culture. To do so, HR collaborates with other departments in the organization. Job training topics may include: 

  • Anti-harassment
  • Diversity and inclusion
  • Cybersecurity
  • Data protection and privacy
  • Workplace safety

During the onboarding program, new hires also receive an employee handbook, HR onboarding paperwork like the new hire form I-9, and forms to sign up for direct deposit and health insurance.  

What makes a manual onboarding process so difficult? 

The challenges involved with a manual onboarding process are evident. Before any of the tasks discussed above can happen, Human Resources must physically create or compile relevant forms, including manually entering data about the new hire. 

Then, they need to assign to-do items for:

  • Members of the hiring team, including direct managers
  • Employees in other departments (such as IT and Finance/Payroll)
  • The new hire 

Because new hires are legally required to complete forms like the new hire form I-9, Human Resources must also create a system to track progress towards completing these forms, documents, or trainings. This means sending multiple follow-up emails or making phone calls to ensure each crucial step is completed on time. 

Similarly, HR professionals have to maintain regular contact with others in the organization to ensure the entire onboarding process is continuing on the necessary timeline. For example, HR may need to collaborate with IT for cybersecurity training, or work with finance to process payroll paperwork. This may even require HR to set up approval workflows that span across employees, groups, and departments. 

Not only does creating this new hire process flow chart take more time and energy than an automated onboarding process, but the back-and-forth involved also increases the likelihood that the onboarding process takes longer to complete. 

With a manual onboarding process, an HR professional is also responsible for reporting new hire onboarding progress to hiring managers and others in the organization. Because this information isn’t tracked in one place, HR has to regularly update a separate employee onboarding checklist. Then, they must communicate onboarding program progress to everyone involved, which means spending additional time scheduling meetings or check-ins. 

The Solution: An Automated Employee Onboarding Process

But onboarding doesn’t have to be that complicated. Onboard is a new hire onboarding software by NEOGOV that reduces the headaches involved with a manual onboarding process through automation. Using Onboard, you can minimize roadblocks and facilitate a more streamlined experience for both employees and HR professionals alike. 

Below, we outline the software’s key onboarding tools that help public sector organizations stay on schedule with an automated employee onboarding process.

Form builder 

This new hire onboarding software includes predefined federal forms like the I9 and W4 that new hires can access, fill out, and sign before their first day on the job. NEOGOV also gives HR professionals access to a Global Form Bank. This allows users to view and use onboarding template forms from other public sector agencies. 

And if you can’t find the form you need, you can build your own custom HR forms for new hires. For example, new hires may be required to register their vehicle for parking near City Hall. Human Resources can build and store a custom onboarding template form that enables users to quickly fill in information like the make and model of their car. 

Auto-fill form

New hires will appreciate Onboard’s auto-fill form feature. Important information, like a new hire's name and address, can be auto-filled onto forms. This makes the form filling process less tedious and allows new employees to focus their energy on the important stuff, like getting to know their co-workers, instead of repetitive data entry.

Customization

Onboard is highly customizable, enabling Human Resources to tailor required form fields and set up specific approval workflows by employee type, group, and department. HR can assign tasks to an entire employee group, allowing any member of the group to complete the task. This is especially helpful for tasks in which responsibility may not fall to one specific person (such as processing payroll paperwork). 

Scheduling automation

Using our HR onboarding software, human resources professionals can schedule when onboarding paperwork should be sent to a new hire or other members of the organization according to their new hire process flow chart. This ensures everyone receives forms and to-do items as they’re needed, rather than being bombarded by everything all at once and potentially missing something important in the mix.

Checklists

Human resources professionals can configure an onboarding checklist in Onboard and assign tasks based on roles, positions, groups, divisions, and more. Additionally, HR staff can assign HR onboarding paperwork to other contributors in the organization who are involved in the hiring process. NEOGOV’s employee onboarding software even includes reminders and overdue notices to ensure that no HR forms are forgotten. 

Reporting

In Onboard, HR can also create reports and track new hire and employee progress throughout the onboarding process. Because this software is cloud-based, multiple people in an organization can view the current onboarding status, reducing the necessity for back-and-forth communication or redundant meetings. This tool is particularly helpful for tracking remote onboarding progress.

Benefits of New Hire Onboarding Software

Automating your manual onboarding process results in an easier, less cumbersome experience for both managers and new hires. It enables you to save time that can be better spent elsewhere, such as building a stellar organizational culture, sourcing potential candidates for other roles in your organization, or cultivating professional development opportunities. 

Onboarding software also helps Human Resources move away from physical paperwork, so there’s less risk of documents that contain sensitive information, like Social Security numbers, getting lost in the shuffle. New hire onboarding software enables individuals to complete paperwork online, including federal forms like the W4 and I9, before they even start their first day of employment. 

Plus, using an onboarding checklist makes it easy for HR to check the progress of new hire paperwork without having to call or email the new employee. Similarly, HR can make sure that paperwork has been processed everywhere it needs to go in the organization, from the hiring manager to IT or Finance. 

And the icing on top of the cake? An automated employee onboarding process not only makes the lives of HR professionals easier: it also promotes a positive employee experience, increases time to productivity, and improves new hire retention rates. Talk about a win-win. 

Final Thoughts

Don’t waste your valuable time trying to maintain inefficient manual practices. The Onboard software solution makes an automated, effective onboarding process completely accessible to your organization.

To learn more about how NEOGOV can improve your organization’s employee onboarding process, book a free demo today.

Mike Tannian

Mike Tannian is the Director of Content Marketing at NEOGOV. With a talented team of writers by his side, he aims to produce content that delivers real value to public sector HR professionals at every stage in the buying journey.