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How to Automate Employee Onboarding for SMEs using No-Code Tools

For SMEs, where resources are often limited, automating employee onboarding isn't just a luxury; it's a necessity. The traditional manual process involves mountains of paperwork, endless back-and-forths, and an increased risk of errors, not to mention the precious time it consumes.

Nelson Marteleira
Designer & Nocoder

In the fast-paced world of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), every minute counts. The process of onboarding new employees, once seen as a necessary but time-consuming task, is now ripe for transformation. With the advent of no-code tools, SMEs can streamline and automate this critical process, saving time and resources while ensuring a seamless experience for their new hires.

In this article, we'll delve into the significance of automating employee onboarding specifically tailored to SMEs. We'll explore the challenges faced by these businesses when managing this task manually and the immense benefits that no-code tools can bring. 

Keep in mind that these solutions are designed to empower non-technical users, making automation accessible to all.

Employee Onboarding Automation is an important strategy for SMEs - Image AI-Generated

Understanding the Employee Onboarding Automation Process

For SMEs, where resources are often limited, automating employee onboarding isn't just a luxury; it's a necessity. The traditional manual process involves mountains of paperwork, endless back-and-forths, and an increased risk of errors, not to mention the precious time it consumes.

With automation, SMEs can bid farewell to these challenges. They can ensure compliance, accelerate the time-to-productivity for new hires, and free up valuable human resources for more strategic tasks. The need for automation in the onboarding process is undeniable, and no-code tools are the enablers that can make it happen.

Phil Strazzulla's opinion about the importance of using no-code tools in his company

📌 Also read: How to automate an Application Tracking System using no-code tools

Exploring No-Code Tools

Zapier, Airtable and Make: powerful no-code tools for automation processes

No-code tools are the game-changers SMEs have been waiting for. They empower business users, without any coding knowledge, to create customized workflows, forms, and integrations. These tools, designed with simplicity in mind, are cost-effective solutions that level the playing field for SMEs competing against larger enterprises, making work easier without any fancy tricks.

  • Zapier: Your digital multitool. It seamlessly links apps, streamlining tasks like sharing form responses on Slack or updating your CRM for new leads—zero coding required.
  • Airtable: Picture a turbocharged spreadsheet. It simplifies intricate processes and serves as an SME lifeline for data and operations organization.
  • Make (former Integromat): The heavyweight champ of process automation, connecting apps, databases, and services. Need data sync across platforms? Integromat's got your back.

Quick tutorial on how to automate a hiring process with Airtable

Step-by-Step Guide to Automating Employee Onboarding

Example of an Employee Onboarding Process workflow
Example of an employee onboarding process workflow
  1. Identify Onboarding Needs: Assess the current process, identify all the steps and interactions, and pinpoint automation opportunities;
  2. Create Onboarding Workflow: Map the process visually, including approvals, and notifications;
  3. Select the Right No-Code Tool: Research and choose a no-code platform that aligns with your specific onboarding needs;
  4. Build Forms and Documents: Create digital forms and documents for information collection and e-signatures;
  5. Integrate with HR Systems: Ensure seamless data transfer between your no-code tool and existing HR systems;
  6. Automate Tasks and Notifications: Set up  rules for task triggers, automatic email notifications, and reminders for tasks and deadlines;
  7. Test and Iterate: Thoroughly test your automated process and fine-tune it as needed;
  8. Train Your Team: Ensure your team is well-versed in using the no-code tool.

Benefits and ROI

💰 Cost Savings

Automating employee onboarding can significantly reduce administrative costs associated with manual processes. 

An article from VensureHR shows that manual onboarding can cost businesses anywhere from $4,000 to $40,000 per new hire, considering the time spent by HR staff, printing costs, and potential errors. By contrast, automating onboarding processes can cut these costs by up to 30-50%.

⏱️ Efficiency Gains

Manual onboarding processes can be time-consuming, often taking days or even weeks to complete. By automating repetitive tasks such as form filling, document collection, and IT setup, SMEs can speed up the onboarding process, getting new employees productive faster. Research indicates that automated onboarding processes can reduce the time to onboard new hires by up to 50-75%.

At an estimated savings of 1.75 hours per each 100 new hires, automated employee onboarding can save your HR team 175 hours of labor per year! - SignNow Team

📈 Increased Productivity

Automating employee onboarding frees up HR and administrative staff from mundane tasks, allowing them to focus on more strategic initiatives such as talent development, employee engagement, and company culture. This shift in focus can lead to a boost in overall productivity. 

📑 Improved Compliance

Compliance with regulatory requirements and internal policies is critical during the onboarding process. Automating onboarding workflows ensures that all necessary documentation is collected, stored securely, and easily accessible when needed. This reduces the risk of non-compliance and potential penalties. 

📊 Estimated ROI

Calculating the return on investment (ROI) for automating employee onboarding involves considering various factors such as time saved, reduced errors, and improved productivity. For example, a small business with 50 employees, automating onboarding processes can save an average of 200 hours per year in HR administrative tasks. With an average HR hourly wage of $25, this translates to a cost savings of $5,000 per year

Real-Life Case Study

ABC Innovations, a vibrant tech-focused SME, struggled with the traditional, labor-intensive employee onboarding process. Piles of paperwork, overwhelmed staff, and delayed new hire integration were affecting both productivity and project schedules.

To tackle these challenges, they adopted no-code tools such as Zapier and Airtable.

➞ Zapier was employed to create automated workflows that seamlessly linked their HR system to project management software. This meant that, as soon as new employee details were entered, they were automatically integrated into project teams, granted necessary permissions, and had their training schedules organized, all without manual intervention.

➞ Airtable played a pivotal role in overhauling their onboarding forms and checklists. They established customized databases that facilitated progress tracking, ensured document collection, and enabled comprehensive onboarding monitoring.

The outcomes were remarkable. ABC Innovations slashed their onboarding time by a staggering 50%, resulting in faster new hire productivity and projects completed ahead of schedule. This competitive edge was further amplified as historical challenges, like missing paperwork and communication gaps, were consigned to history. Automated notifications and reminders kept everyone on course, eliminating oversights.

ABC Innovations is a compelling illustration of how leveraging no-code tools can not only simplify employee onboarding but also amplify efficiency, elevate productivity, and enhance project timelines within an SME.

Best Practices

1. Regularly review and optimize your automated onboarding process:

  • Continuously monitor metrics like completion time and satisfaction;
  • Analyze feedback from HR and new hires to refine the workflow, addressing inefficiencies and improving the overall experience.

2. Stay updated with enhancements and new features offered by your chosen no-code tool:

  • Keep abreast of platform updates through newsletters, webinars, and forums;
  • Utilize the latest capabilities to ensure your automated onboarding process remains efficient and aligned with industry standards.

3. Encourage feedback from both HR and new employees to refine the process continuously:

  • Foster a feedback culture by gathering input through surveys and discussions;
  • Actively listen to suggestions for improvement from HR professionals and new hires, integrating valuable insights to optimize the onboarding workflow ongoingly.


In conclusion, automating employee onboarding with no-code tools isn't just a trend; it's a proven strategy that can revolutionize how SMEs manage their workforce. By simplifying complex processes, eliminating errors, and boosting efficiency, these tools empower SMEs to compete on a level playing field with larger counterparts. 

The benefits of automation are undeniable, offering, not only, cost savings, but also the invaluable gift of time. As an SME, embracing these no-code tools can unlock a world of possibilities, ensuring your business stays agile and ready for future growth.

It's time to automate and thrive.

Nelson Marteleira

Nelson is the co-founder NoCode Institute. He is an experienced NoCode specialist and developer with a solid portfolio. Nelson helps bring ideas to reality.

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