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Case study: How digital HR transformed onboarding at Novant Health



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Onboarding is usually a lengthy, manual process at most organisations. Here’s how US-based Alen Brcic, Director of HR Technology, Novant Health and his team took it to the next level with efficiency in mind and a superb digital experience.

Hiring the right talent to join our team and deliver remarkable patient care calls for an enhanced HR digital foundation. We found the remarkable candidate and they have accepted our offer of employment. What now?

Onboarding is usually a lengthy, manual process at most organisations due to stringent local and federal requirements. But, with efficiency in mind and a superb digital experience, we have taken it to the next level.

We started by asking ourselves the following questions.

  • How do we scale this across four states and become agile?
  • Why are there so many paper forms?
  • How easy is it for team members to complete onboarding?
  • What do we do with the huge amount of paperwork that is generated?
  • Why do we print, scan and shred?
  • Why so many manual steps and touches? The questions continue.

Let us tackle this one question at a time.

Why are there so many manual steps and multiple touches during this process?

Using digitisation within our applicant tracking system, we have deployed a modern onboarding approach that enables team members to complete their onboarding tasks in less than five minutes at times.

Our research shows that this has significantly personalised and enhanced the candidate experience. In this age of digital transformation and fast-paced workplace, who has time to waste on filling out all this paperwork, right?

Next, how do we scale this across four states and become agile?  

Complexity of federal laws requires the I-9 process to be completed and verified by candidates presenting work eligibility documents in person. There is no need for a long waiting line at new-hire orientation or candidates making a special trip to HR offices.

We have contracted with a vendor that offers a nationwide network of providers so that new team members can conveniently schedule where and when they want to get their I-9 process completed before their start date.

Let me tell you that it can be done and you should do it – the first step is to tell yourself just that!

Sounds good but how about all of the paper or PDF forms?

With this initiative, we have eliminated the filling out of all actual paperwork wherever it is legally permissible, leveraging digitisation.

Now hold on! What do we do with these digital records that are dispersed across multiple systems? It is understandable that people are completing forms online but how are you retaining them? Do we continue the vicious cycle of printing, scanning and shredding? Do we start saving PDF files on a shared drive and then start indexing them?

Sounds easy. Not when you multiply that by 6,000-7,000 annual hires each having over 15-20 dispersed documents across multiple digital platforms.

Remember the concept of agility? A real cross-functional team operating in sync can definitely solve this.

Having the ability to leverage modern integration technologies such as REST API and SOAP API with our vendors and automating daily loads of forms to our Hyland OnBase document repository has enabled us to streamline the on-boarding process completely.

Documents flow from our ATS and background check/I-9 vendor directly to our team member document repository. Those documents are accessible when needed within our core HCM system. Efficient and time-saving.

How to start a similar initiative at your organisation?

Let me tell you that it can be done and you should do it – the first step is to tell yourself just that! After you have overcome your own doubts, start to map your processes and identify key areas that are very manual and paper intensive.

The next question is to determine why?  Do we have a capability issue in terms of the technology that we have or we simply never asked the question?  Have we really explored our ecosystem of tools available to us throughout our organisation?

What you will find is that most companies have the digital capabilities to achieve many transformative initiatives, the only thing that is holding them back is seeking them out. They may not come as a standard pre-packaged tool set, but rather may be dispersed across your organisation.

Do not be afraid to explore and form your own cross-functional team, which most likely will be comprised from a number of different areas throughout your organisation.

This new process, thanks to a cross-functional team with innovative solutions, freed up HR resources to shift the focus on what is truly important: finding the next best talent to deliver remarkable patient care.

This is one example of how HR at Novant Health is moving away from transactional work towards being a strategic partner to the organisation. It can do the same for your organisation!


Novant Health is a four-state integrated network of 15 hospitals and more than 350 physician practices, based in North Carolina, United States. To know more, check out its Career Site.

Photo / 123RF



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