Across many businesses, fewer and fewer administrative tasks rely on paper-based processes. The rise of remote working has increasingly driven digital transformation. Yet even as recently as late 2020, surveys found that as many as 66% of talent acquisition teams in the UK were still relying on paper contracts – with candidates required to return them by post when working from home.

An inked signature on a paper contract remains the dominant method for handling employment contracts, even at a time when digital signatures have been widely adopted for onboarding new customers.

This continued reliance on paper contracts can significantly impact candidate onboarding and ultimately increase the cost-per-hire for many businesses.

The onboarding process for new hires involves significant information gathering, with checks and actions requiring signoff from multiple stakeholders. It is a lengthy, challenging, and can cause a lot of administrative strain.

For candidates, unnecessarily long onboarding periods lead to uncertainty, doubt, and severely impact talent retention – with research from Glassdoor finding that a strong onboarding process can improve retention of new hires by as much as 82%. The onboarding process is a vital part of employee experience, and in a candidate-led market, where many businesses are struggling to retain their best talent, organisations can ill afford this kind of inefficiency.

By utilising secure digital signature solutions, organisations can overcome many of the challenges that hamper the onboarding process for new recruits.

The Benefits of Secure Digital Signatures

Save Time and Money

With all documents kept digitally, time does not need to be spent printing, scanning, or posting offer letters and employment contracts. Instead, hiring managers can email these easily to new employees, and track the status of each document to check whether they have been signed. This level of expedience is particularly valuable for mass recruitment drives.

Approval workflows can also be automated, with automatic emails triggered in response to actions taken by new employees, including sending thank you emails automatically upon a signature being completed. This efficiency can reduce both the time and cost-per-hire, allowing businesses to budget more effectively and invest more into finding the right talent.

Where previously, this process would have required physical documents transferred back and forth between stakeholders, handling it digitally means that everyone required to sign a document can do so from their own preferred device within minutes, with completed documents also safely stored digitally, removing the need to keep and store physical files.

Improve Security and Compliance

Paper documents containing sensitive employee data such as bank details and other personal information represent potential security risks for businesses. If these documents become lost when sent through the post, that represents an immediate security breach. Avoiding such a scenario means eliminating a potential point of failure.

Sending and receiving documents with secure digital signatures provides multiple levels of authentication and encryption that provide many layers of security that would not be possible with physical documents.

This is equally true for storing these documents once they have been signed – instead of being kept in a physical location that needs to be locked and monitored, digital documents are stored via a secure network.

In addition, these digital documents – unlike their physical counterparts – are immediately GDPR compliant by virtue of the systems in place to encrypt and secure them and are more easily accessible for auditing purposes.

Better Employee Experience

Being able to email contracts, offer letters, and other vital new employee information allows candidates more time to read and engage with the information they are provided, instead of forcing them to wait days to receive the information, or rush through documents on their first day with the company.

For employees, it is also easier for them to keep track of these documents, without them needing to worry about losing or forgetting anything.

At a time when 94% of employees are complaining that inadequate technology is making them want to leave their jobs, being able to start a relationship with a new employee on the right foot by showcasing a digital-first approach to onboarding can be extremely valuable.

Additionally, reducing onboarding times provides candidates with more certainty heading into a new role, meaning they are less likely to drop off after the offer-stage and accept a new role elsewhere, or begin their new role with your company with doubts about whether they have made the right decision.

Innovate your Recruitment and Onboarding

Creating an end-to-end digital environment for your employees reduces friction, providing a seamless flow of data to empower your business. Hireserve ATS can transform every step of your recruitment process, from helping you to share your vacancies across multiple job boards, streamline candidate shortlisting, to improving the efficiency and experience of candidate onboarding.

We have partnered with Secured Signing to integrate secure digital signatures into our Applicant Tracking System.

If you’d like to learn more about how Highserve ATS can impact your entire recruitment process, request a demo now.

About the author

Tristan Potter

Tristan has a decade's worth of experience writing content and copy for organisations across Bristol and the Southwest of England. He has written on a diverse range of topics, including technology, philosophy, politics, and recruitment. His writing has appeared in The Drum, HR Grapevine, and The Guardian, among other publications. He joined Hireserve in March 2022.