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How Epic Turned New Hire Onboarding Into a Candidate Experience Dream

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Looking to improve the new hire experience, Epic set a goal to make it as seamless and engaging as possible, striving to connect new hires with each other while automating processes to save time.

As most of their efforts are concentrated on campus recruitment, many new employees are hired four to twelve months before starting. The challenge? Keeping them excited and engaged about their future career at Epic.

The vast majority of the hires we have in a calendar year are entry-level and with that, we focus pretty heavily on campus recruitment efforts. So in the fall of the 2021 semester, we attended around 185 campus recruitment events. It’s a huge initiative for us.”

– Jeff Sonntag, Recruiter and Recruiting Systems Administrator at Epic

About Epic

Founded in 1979 by a software developer, Epic Systems is a healthcare software company that has been continually innovating and breaking the mold for patient care worldwide over the past four decades. They continue to be a company that’s run by software developers, with a yearly growth of 15 to 20 percent in the past ten years.

Epic develops electronic medical record software, with 75 percent of the US population having a patient record in their software. Being a tech company with headquarters in Wisconsin, they are constantly competing for talent with Silicon Valley companies and looking for new ways to engage their latest hires.

The Epic Challenge

So what was the turning point for Epic? Jeff Sonntag explained that it was a presentation from a New York Times bestselling author who inspired their decision to overhaul onboarding.

Chip Heath explained in a talk on “The Power of Moments” that a new hire’s first day at work is a critical transition. Epic decided it was time to provide their new joiners with a personalized onboarding experience that would decrease stress levels during that period and turn it into an enriching first moment in their new job.

Looking into their process, a few things stood out that needed changing. With many new hires signing their contracts months before their actual start date, it was of great importance to Epic to engage them throughout this entire period. Their old ways weren’t working and they needed something new to effectively nurture those relationships and make the entire experience much friendlier and unforgettable.

Given we’re hiring our staff so far before their start date, we do a lot to try and keep them engaged. And prior to implementing Avature, we were using a Facebook group to help promote networking with new staff. That created some challenges for us, both from a branding standpoint as well as moderation.”

– Jeff Sonntag, Recruiter and Recruiting Systems Administrator at Epic

Epic was also facing outdated processes when it came to communication methods. They were sending many documents by mail (yes, we’re talking envelopes and stamps here) and had to field a large number of emails requesting information on everything from benefits to how the relocation process worked. This was proving to be a burden for their team.

At this point, Epic had already been working with Avature to improve their recruitment process, implementing Avature ATS and CRM for a while with great results. It was a no-brainer to work together again for their new onboarding experience.

Basically, if there’s a new problem that we’re faced with, we first say “Can we put it in Avature?” And that’s sort of the first question that we always ask our team when we sit down to figure out and solve a new problem.”

– Maria Szychlinski, Recruiter and Recruiting Systems Project Manager at Epic

An Epic Approach to New Hire Onboarding

When it came down to engaging new hires and providing them with a unique candidate experience, Avature Onboard helped Epic tackle this challenge in several ways. Firstly, by leveraging Avature workflows and scheduled actions, they’re able to send automated newsletters full of inspiring content that give their new hires insights into life at Epic. It requires no real-time input from recruiters, who benefit from automation that takes care of the process of cultivating relationships with new hires.

So, we use Avature for everything. And we feel that the workflows are so powerful because it allows you to systemize something that maybe you were putting in a spreadsheet or had on an info path form.”

– Maria Szychlinski, Recruiter and Recruiting Systems Project Manager at Epic

Another step they’ve taken to drive engagement is the implementation of Avature DNA. With the objective of creating a professional networking space for new cohorts, the employee hub can be moderated and requires no maintenance. Groups are created for each new start class, with quick links embedded for resources related to the company and the local area.

We ended up implementing Avature’s DNA solution to allow our staff to have a centralized, professional networking tool available from Avature’s onboarding portal to start getting to know their future coworkers before meeting them in person.”

– Jeff Sonntag, Recruiter and Recruiting Systems Administrator at Epic

In addition to DNA, Epic enhanced the experience for new cohorts by leveraging the Avature onboarding portal. They provide new employees with all the information they might need, such as the benefits they’ll be eligible for and their upcoming training program. It’s tailored to each new joiner, allowing them to complete a series of steps that include signing relocation agreements and confidentiality notices.

Their onboarding portal is continuously being updated, not just based on wanting to add new features for the sake of it. They do this based on the new hires’ feedback as well. They collect feedback on the onboarding process and portal to improve the experience, their goal for this being to achieve a process that’s more near to what their recruitment process looks like and set the same high bar for this experience.

One way that we work to stand out is through our recruitment process. Avature has helped us make it personalized, seamless and also fast.”

– Jeff Sonntag, Recruiter and Recruiting Systems Administrator at Epic

With many moving to Wisconsin to start at Epic, relocation is an important step in the onboarding journey. As such, they’ve also built a relocation portal within their onboarding one, tailored to showcase a new hire’s relocation package. A process that used to involve a lot of emails is now centralized into one place, where joiners can find resources, FAQs, forms and more, saving the HR department over 100 hours a year.

Epic Results With Avature Onboard

Epic’s new approach to new hire onboarding not only helped them to better engage with new hires and provide them with a meaningful experience. It also allowed their team to save:

  • Time as they no longer have to stuff envelopes, sort through mail and send resources.
  • Over $50,000 in stamps alone by enabling new hires to sign documents electronically on their onboarding portal.
  • Over $30,000 in materials for employee handbooks.
  • Paper as they no longer need to print documents, handbooks or agreements.

Overall, I would recommend that if you don’t know where to start with improving an onboarding experience for your new hires, get feedback from them. Consider surveys or focus groups as a starting point. Figure out what went well and what could be improved and use that to help you identify areas you could make improvements on, even small ones as they’re going to significantly add up over time.”

– Jeff Sonntag, Recruiter and Recruiting Systems Administrator at Epic

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