Maximizing Staffing Onboarding Efficiency: How to Improve Your Process

Your organization puts a ton of resources into sourcing, connecting with, and signing the best candidates out there.

But, if you’re like many firms, all that time, energy, and money may be going to waste. The culprit? Outdated, cumbersome onboarding processes.

Though most staffing and recruiting organizations have automated much of the recruiting cycle, onboarding is still stuck in the dark ages. Many recruiters are making do with old-school tactics that haven’t evolved since the days of spreadsheets and paper welcome packets. Some are still dealing with painful manual processes, like transferring information from forms by hand, which ups the risk of errors and delays. 

Disconnected from the clear goals of the recruiting process, onboarding is often an afterthought. 

And candidates can feel it. When they don’t receive the same level of attention after the contract is signed, that good recruiting experience starts to feel like an empty promise. Frustrating and time-consuming onboarding may cause them to lose faith, bow out after one contract, or even ghost.

For the ones who do stick around, they don’t just struggle on their first day on the job. New hires who aren’t properly onboarded are less productive, less engaged, and less satisfied with their experience. You may even feel overwhelmed to even know how to improve staffing onboarding for your firm.

But when it goes well? A consistent, flexible, streamlined onboarding experience has organization-wide benefits:

Here are the best practices for an onboarding process that engages candidates, supports clients, and keeps recruiters agile and responsive.

How do you create a good onboarding experience in your staffing agency?

Examine onboarding needs and define your goals.

Like every facet of your organization, a solid onboarding process should be grounded in candidate and client needs, and linked to achievable goals. Before revamping onboarding at your organization, ask yourself (and your team) the following questions to drill into what those goals are:


For your clients, onboarding should be collaborative, goal-oriented, and easy as pie.

  • What are your clients’ top onboarding priorities? How do you define these priorities with clients to ensure alignment? 
  • What are your biggest challenges in creating a smooth onboarding process for clients?
  • How can you accomplish clients’ goals with the least possible touchpoints on their part?
  • What benchmarks throughout the process let clients know that onboarding is on track? 
  • How will you define success with clients?


For your candidates, onboarding should be thoughtful, engaging, and convenient – with a human touch. 

  • What complaints or frustrations about your onboarding process have you heard from candidates in the past? 
  • How can you make onboarding as simple and effective as possible for candidates?
  • How do candidates understand where they are in the onboarding process? How do they keep track of their progress and know what to do next?
  • How can your onboarding strategy align with your recruiting strategy? How can you use onboarding to boost loyalty and increase redeployment?


For your recruiters, onboarding should be well-defined, consistent, and automated.

  • What are the biggest pain points for your recruiters throughout the onboarding process?
  • What aspects of your onboarding process can be automated, standardized, or templated?
  • What aspects of your process can be done away with entirely?
  • How do you measure and define onboarding success?
  • Where have you stumbled with compliance issues in the past? How can your onboarding process be standardized to prevent these issues moving forward?
  • How is onboarding linked to larger organizational goals? 
  • How can you connect onboarding to the metrics you pay the most attention to?

By drilling into these questions, you can create a consistent and flexible process that is easy for candidates, effective for clients, and streamlined for your recruiters. 

The Benefits of a Strong Onboarding Program

A vibrant infographic highlighting the benefits of a strong onboarding program for staffing and recruiting agencies, showcasing statistics on workplace satisfaction, new hire productivity, employee retention, agency loyalty, and leveraging current pipelines.

Collaborate with your team on the ideal onboarding process.

Once you’ve established your overarching goals, you want to build out the on-the-ground processes that put these goals into action. But a top-down process, handed to recruiters from on high, will likely meet with resistance. 

Using the questions above as a jumping-off point, start an open dialogue with your recruiters. Drill into what worked best for them in the past and what ideas they have for improvement moving forward.

When they’ve had a hand in creating what your new, streamlined onboarding process looks like, it’ll create a sense of ownership. To build on that, include their feedback and suggestions when you train on the new onboarding processes, too.

Collaboration creates ownership. Ownership creates buy-in. Buy-in creates process compliance, which ultimately helps ensure the new processes become daily habits.

Prioritize consistency and flexibility

Perhaps more than any other aspect of your recruiting cycle, onboarding needs to be both consistent and flexible. 

Onboarding should be defined enough to provide consistency. New hires need to move smoothly through bureaucracy and training, with each employee receiving the same information at the same pace. 

To maintain a reputation for reliability, compliance goals need to be met like clockwork. Communication breakdowns, missed deadlines, and training gaps can all delay deployment, which can tank good candidate and client relationships.

But, you can’t sacrifice a good experience in the name of consistency, either. Being too rigid or fixated on a specific way of accomplishing goals can alienate folks, too. 

You need to bridge the gap between client and candidate and respond to each of their specific needs. This requires that your team be flexible enough to accommodate unique workplace cultures, different candidate learning styles, and the inevitable unexpected.

This is where a marriage between the right tech, the right processes, and the right team makes all the difference.

Tech should empower and accelerate onboarding process goals

Let’s face it. The reason that many staffing and recruiting organizations have lackluster onboarding processes is that recruiters don’t have the resources they need to make vital changes. In a 2018 onboarding study of 350 HR leaders, more than half (57%) said lack of bandwidth is a barrier to improving onboarding.

The most clearly-defined goals, gold-star processes, and total team buy-in alone won’t set you up for success. Your recruiters will still be stretched thin, trying to do the job of three people at once. 

To save your team’s time, money, and energy, onboarding – like your recruiting cycle – needs to be accelerated through the right tech.

How can the right ATS accelerate your onboarding process?

The right ATS can increase onboarding efficiency, improve candidate experience, and prevent reputation-tanking compliance errors. It can boost productivity and free up your recruiters’ time to focus on the human aspects and relationship-building opportunities during the pre-hire phase. Here’s how.

Flexible workflows

Onboarding requires that your team manage an immense amount of information. The right ATS can organize this information into different standardized workflows. 

These workflows guide candidates through credentialing verification and work authorizations, getting set up with payroll, and accessing benefits. They can also move candidates through client-specific training, such as company introductions, facilities tours, and scheduling initial meetups.  

While these workflows will speed up the onboarding process over manual processes, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. 

Just think about the difference between onboarding a travel nurse and onboarding a software engineer. Night and day. 

Therefore it’s crucial that your onboarding workflows be fully customizable so you can adapt your tech to the way your team works, what your client needs, and what your candidates expect.

Sequencing and automation

Each workflow should be fully automated so that your ATS moves new hires through each onboarding stage without a hitch. 

By automating the more repetitive processes, such as gathering pre-hire information, scheduling candidates for training, and sending reminders when key documents need to be signed, you can guarantee a consistent, timely, and smooth experience for candidates and clients alike.

The right ATS will also have customizable checklists to help recruiters track each candidate’s progress through the vital onboarding steps. You should be able to associate the checklist items with the candidate record, too. This not only helps ensure a seamless pre-hiring process to meet client expectations, but it will also help recruiters maintain the kind of positive candidate relationships that lead to redeployments.

Compliance failsafes

Compliance and technology go hand-in-hand. Leaving credentialing and legal approvals up to manual processes is a surefire way to find your organization in hot water. There are plenty of HR horror stories out there, from deepfake remote employees to millions in fines for incorrect employee classification or violating child labor laws. Cautionary tales like these illustrate how much time and money can be saved – and suffering prevented – with due diligence and ironclad documentation procedures. 

With templated forms and routinized outreach, compliance issues can become a relic of the past. With a template bank, you can establish predefined items – such as tax forms, work visa verification requests, and medical requirements – which can be reused and customized based on client and candidate needs. 

An ATS with integrated eSignatures and eVerification also allows you to add another layer of security and accountability to compliance documents. eSignatures increase document security, provide transparency and timestamping, and eliminate the inconvenience of in-person or paper signing. eVerify can improve wage reporting, ensure workers are authorized for employment, and prevent fraud.

Comprehensive dashboards 

The best ATS system in the world wouldn’t be worth much if it didn’t give you insight into the overall health of your business’s primary functions. Comprehensive dashboards will:

  • help you and your team maintain organizational oversight on onboarding.
  • keep you up-to-date with candidate progress at every stage of the hiring process, from credentialing to first-day orientations to redeployment. 
  • allow you to loop in key stakeholders as needed as well, so your process is never delayed by being siloed in the wrong hands.

Bonus: Redeployment reminders 

Onboarding is an opportunity to continue to nurture talent right through their contracts and establish the strong relationships that lead to renewals and redeployments. 

The right ATS can act as a digital assistant in that process, keeping your organization top of mind for candidates as their contracts near completion. 

Internal redeployment reminders also help recruiters connect with candidates at the right time to ensure that they remain a part of your agency.

How do you keep candidates engaged throughout the onboarding process?

Many in the staffing and recruiting industry still think of onboarding as checking off some bureaucratic boxes and checking in with new hires on their first day on the job.

But, really, onboarding is part of recruiting. And improving onboarding will keep your candidates happy. In our candidate-driven market, onboarding is another opportunity to impress, connect, and create the kind of loyalty that makes new hires stick with your agency. 

Here’s how to keep candidates engaged throughout the process.

Communicate clearly and effectively with candidates throughout the onboarding process

By combining thoughtful automation with recruiter-led check-ins, you can make sure that your new hires know exactly what’s expected of them – and who they can turn to.

Just as workflows help your team stay organized and compliant on the backend, candidate-facing workflows can help orient hires on where they are in the onboarding process, stay on top of deadlines, and be fully prepared for their first day on the job. 

When candidates forget to send in a form or miss a requirement, task reminders can help keep them on track. 

And, by automating workflows and task reminders, your ATS system does the tedious work, keeping recruiters free and responsive to communicate with candidates about their individual needs.

Personalize key onboarding touchpoints to help increase responsiveness

To give onboarding that human touch, you want to customize your automated processes, creating space for recruiters to continue to nurture hires toward redeployment. 

To do this, tailor the onboarding process to each candidate’s needs, the specific job description, and credentialing requirements so that they are never inundated with irrelevant requests. Tap template banks and toggle onboarding modules to protect candidates from irrelevant info.

You also want to set up workflows to create individualized calls-to-action and double-check for automation errors. Nothing makes a candidate feel like a number faster than “Dear first name.”

Finally, encourage recruiters to check in at intervals before the first day to create the kind of one-on-one experience that builds loyalty and trust.

Taken together, these personalizations will encourage quicker responses and keep candidates on schedule and engaged.

Give candidates a single, mobile-friendly portal to track their onboarding progress

Old-school onboarding processes are often distributed across multiple websites, emails, and even paper forms. This is cumbersome and confusing, making it difficult for candidates to know where they stand in the process. The more clicks, logins, and redundancies you require during onboarding, the more errors, drop-offs, and ghosting you’re going to see.

Instead, provide a single source of truth, in the form of a mobile-friendly online onboarding dashboard. You want to meet candidates where they are, which is largely on their mobile devices. You also want to streamline the process so they can access their documents, engage with their orientation materials, and track their overall progress in one place.

How will improving your onboarding process help your staffing and recruiting organization?

A good onboarding experience is about more than just compliance and forms. It’s not even about making sure candidates and clients are the best fit possible – though that factors in. The real purpose of a good onboarding experience is to communicate your value to the people who are most important to your staffing and recruiting organization. 

By providing your candidates with the tools they need to get to work in a timely manner, you communicate that you put them first, even after you’ve got their first contract signed. 

When you make onboarding as invisible as possible for clients, you convey that you are a strong partner whose service prioritizes their needs and objectives.

By automating and streamlining your onboarding process in-house, you show your recruiters that you value their time and energy and that you want to support them in hitting their goals.

When you combine a candidate-focused process like onboarding and combine it with an ATS that automates and enhances your processes, you’ll get extremely happy clients and candidates. A satisfied clientele and a steady stream of referral traffic are surefire signs of success. And a recipe for growth.

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