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Automate Employee Onboarding for Remote and Hybrid Teams in Baserow

Baserow, Slack and Zapier logos

Remote work has become the norm in 2022. More and more employees are working remotely due to the ever-changing work environment. While many businesses have embraced the shift and are now managing fully remote or hybrid teams, it was inconvenient for those that had not intended to operate remotely.

Particularly, companies have had to adjust their onboarding processes to accommodate this change. A collaborative online database can help with this process by allowing employees and recruiters to work together. By leveraging Baserow to handle every aspect of the onboarding process, from gathering employee data to organising checklists, you can simplify the transition for your new hires.

How Does Onboarding Work?

Employee onboarding is designed to prepare new employees for their new work environment while also setting expectations for their roles and goals. Making new employees feel welcome is crucial because it sets the scene for their time working for the company.

A defined onboarding structure will encourage new hires to feel included and engaged in their role from day one. HR professionals can create accessible resources that the new hire can review as the onboarding process begins.

The company must be open and honest about what it expects from new hires by communicating information in a central database. Baserow organizes all your data into tables that are easy to create, collaborate on and look through. When there’s one database for all workflows running in your company, everyone knows exactly where to look for what.

What we will build:

You will learn how to make an easier onboarding process in this tutorial:

  • Set up a Baserow database to collect and manage employee data
  • Distribute forms to new hires so they can submit their personal information
  • When a new hire fills out your Baserow form, add their response to the database
  • Create an employee profile and make a row for each new hire in the company’s database
  • Automatically send emails of vital documents, contracts or links to resources
  • Automatically invite new employees to the Slack workspace
  • Notify the team via Slack

Set up a Database

First, we want to build a database that will contain information on all of our employees.

The first step is to create a group. If you haven’t already, log in to Baserow.io. Click “+ Create group” link on the Baserow Dashboard page to create a new group. Enter a group name then click the ‘Add group’ button:

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If you are just getting started with Baserow, we recommend you read our user documentation on how to create a Group and how to add collaborators to your group.

A good way to handle bringing on new employees is to come up with standard tasks and streamline all of the necessary onboarding activities. A better way to do this is to use the new hire onboarding template to take advantage of a pre-determined structure and layout to help you organize the tasks.

To start with this template, log in to your Baserow account and choose the group into which the template will be installed. Click on ‘+ Create new’ and select ‘From template’:

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To learn more about creating a database from a template, read our documentation on how to add a template.

Create an onboarding checklist

It can take a lot of effort to assist new hires in completing all the required documentation prior to their start date, especially when there are numerous new hires to keep track of. How can you simplify employees’ onboarding? Make a to-do list in your Baserow database.

Employees frequently spend the early days of a new job trying to familiarise themselves with the new processes:

  • Document signing
  • Document submission for compliance
  • Orientation, company brief and tour schedule
  • Account enrollment
  • Team introductions - Scheduling meetings to introduce new employees
  • Access to apps and logins

From the newly added database, navigate to the Tasks table to view all tasks for new hires. The Tasks table contains and organizes all of the standard onboarding tasks that can be included in every new hire’s checklist. It also identifies who in the company is in charge of overseeing and keeping track of certain onboarding tasks:

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Create a new employee profile in Baserow

Forms can be automatically created from your database. With Baserow form view, you can easily build forms with click-to-add functionality - without the need to build from scratch.

By integrating the form, your HR team can quickly generate new employee profiles. First, we need to set up the form structure.

Add new hires to rows from new form submissions

For this tutorial, we’re using the Employees table in the New Hire Onboarding database. To create a new employee profile, go to the Employees table within the New Hire Onboarding database.

Within this table, select the Add new employee form view in the upper left-hand corner:

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From the form view sidebar, you can add and configure the display information. Employees can complete a form with extra information, such as a brief bio.

After the form is set up, you want to make this form public. Anyone, including Members, can share a form. To share the link with anyone, click on ‘Share form’ at the top of the screen and proceed to create a private shareable link to the form.

Tip 💡Forms can be prefilled to help the user fill in the form faster. Use pre-fill parameters in the URL of the form to pre-fill specific fields making forms even more powerful.

After you create a private shareable link to the form, you will find the link settings in the ‘Share form’ pop-up of your form.

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Copy and paste the link to easily share your forms with HR or employees or embed a form via an iframe tag.

To learn more about setting up Baserow forms, read our documentation on creating a form view.

Communicate Goals and Expectations with Automation

Use Baserow and Zapier to manage employee onboarding checklists so that everyone (including you) can keep on top of onboarding tasks.

With Zapier, you can build workflows that can execute actions in response to a trigger. A Zap is an automated workflow that connects your apps and services together. Zaps help you save time and prevent mistakes by automating some aspects of employee onboarding.

Each Zap consists of a trigger and one or more actions. A trigger is what starts the Zap. When you start automating your operations, it’s easy to see how Zaps might free you from manual tasks.

Trigger: Set up multi-step zaps from form submission

After a new form is successfully submitted and a new row is created in your Baserow database (trigger), we want to initiate a set of actions to happen.

To set this process, we will create a multi-step Zap that has several actions all based on a single Baserow trigger.

Connect Baserow on Zapier

First, set up a trigger containing the data you want to add. Here is the list of possible Zapier triggers with Baserow:

  • Trigger when a new row is created.
  • Trigger when a new row is created or an existing one is updated.
  • Trigger when an existing row is updated.

For this tutorial, we will create a Zap trigger for when a new row is created in your table. Select Baserow as the app and Row created as the Event:

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Click Continue and proceed to sign in to your Baserow account to connect to the New Hire Onboarding database.

Next, you need to authenticate the Baserow API on Zapier by providing your API token in the Baserow API token field. An API token is similar to a password and allows Zapier to authenticate to Baserow to perform specific actions.

Get Baserow API Token

To access your Baserow account page and retrieve your API token, click on the dropdown arrow next to your account name in the top-right corner of the home screen.

Next, click ‘Settings’ from the dropdown menu. You can find your Baserow API token by clicking on your account in the top left corner → Settings → API tokens:

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To create an API token, select the ‘API Tokens’ tab within your ‘Settings’ page then click on the ‘Create token +’ button. Input the name and select an existing group. Click on the ‘Create token’ button to create a new API token for the selected group and the authorized user:

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From the Personal API tokens page, select the ellipsis ••• beside the ‘New Hire Onboarding’ database. Copy the token to your clipboard:

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For more information about Baserow API token, read our user documentation on connecting Baserow with other software.

Enter your API token on Zapier to link your Baserow account and grant Zapier access to your Baserow account:

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Click ‘Yes, Continue’. Click ‘Continue’ again in the Zapier editor to proceed to set up a trigger.

Get Baserow Table ID

Next, we want to set up the trigger to map the table where new rows will be added after a form is submitted.

To trigger the actions when the row is created, identify the specific table you want to link to in your database and retrieve the table ID. Find your Baserow table ID by clicking on the three dots next to the ‘Employees’ table. It’s the number between brackets:

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Next, enter the Baserow table ID on Zapier:

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Continue to test the trigger.

Zapier will find a recent row in your Baserow API authentication account to confirm that the right account is connected and your trigger is set up correctly:

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Tip 💡If no rows are found, create a new row in your Baserow table and test your trigger again.

Click Continue.

Next, you may set up automation to send new employees an email (action) after a new row is created in your table (trigger).

Click the plus icon to add an Action step to your Zap.

Action #1: Delay workflow until a specified date

Onboarding technically begins on the first day, but you can opt to keep your new hire engaged by starting as soon as the candidate accepts the offer. This may or may not correspond with the date the row is created.

You can choose to trigger the onboarding actions on the start date or grant early access to onboarding tasks weeks before their start date.

To delay the onboarding process so that the workflow does not start when the row is created, control the timing of Zap actions and pause the start of your Zap’s activities for a specific duration.

  • In the Zap editor, click the Action step or the plus + icon to add an action.
  • Select Delay.
  • In the Choose app & event section, click the Event dropdown menu and select Delay Until. Then, click Continue.
  • In the Date/Time Delayed Until field, enter the date the Zap will be delayed until before it moves on to the next step. You can use the acceptance date or start date field from a previous step. You can also choose how Zapier should handle instances where the date has already passed when the Delay Until step is reached. By default, the Zap will continue if the date is within 1 day of when the step is reached.
  • Click Continue.

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When we create a new employee in the table with a starting date somewhere in the future, the start date will trigger the workflow. Note: Delays cannot be set for more than one month in the future.

Next, test & continue.

Action #2: Invite new members to your workspace

When a candidate accepts a job offer, you may provide them access to the Slack workspace instead of using emails for all interactions and queries. We already have the employee email address in our database, now we want to automatically invite the new hires to the Slack workspace when the workflow is triggered.

First, you need to get the invite link for your Slack workspace. To share an invitation link from your Slack desktop,

  1. Click on your workspace name in the top left.
  2. Select Invite people to [workspace name] from the menu.
  3. Click Copy invite link. Note that for security, invite links can be used by up to 400 people and can be set to expire.

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Send welcome emails to new employees

Whenever new employees are due to start, a Zap that sends an email can streamline communication. Next, we want to send the Slack invite and other onboarding tasks via email.

In the Zap editor, click the plus + icon to add an action step.

  • Search for and select choose your preferred email platform from the list of available apps. For this tutorial, we will use Gmail.
  • Click the Event dropdown menu and select the Send Email option. This action will create and send a new email message to an email address you choose when the Zap runs:

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Click Continue and choose an account or select an existing account from the dropdown menu.

Next, set up action by mapping the required fields. You can customize the recipient field, subject, and message, and add attachments:

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Click Continue and then proceed to test and review:

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The onboarding email will be sent to the new employee on the trigger.

Action #3: Send a team channel message

It takes several departments to onboard a new employee. While the tech team needs to know who needs new accounts created, another team may need to assist the new employee in adjusting to their role.

You can add a zap to send Slack channel alerts for new employees. Although this can be communicated to the existing team via email, there are many more advanced options for collaborating virtually. Microsoft Teams and Slack are the most popular remote collaboration applications, and both are excellent for rapid communication.

In the Zap editor, click the plus + icon to add an action step.

  • Search for and select Slack from the list of available apps.
  • Click the Event dropdown menu and select the Send Channel Message option. This action will post a new message to a specific #channel you choose when the Zap runs.

You can alternatively select the Send Direct Message option to send a direct message to a user or yourself from the Slackbot or schedule a message for later:

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Click Continue.

Next, if you don’t have a Slack account connected, click the ‘+ Connect a new account’ button and follow the on-screen instructions to connect your Slack account to Zapier. Zapier will request permission to access your Slack workspace.

After you connect your account, you will be able to select the channel from the dropdown menu. Select your Slack channel from the dropdown menu where alerts for new Baserow Form submissions should be sent.

Click Continue.

Map the form submission to the channel to promptly alert Slack channels/users when feedback is received:

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To test Slack, Zapier will create a new send channel message. Click Test & Continue to initiate this process. A Send Channel Message will be sent to a Slack channel when new employees are added to the Baserow table.

Publish Zap

Finally, click on Publish Zap button. Once you turn on a Zap, Zapier will monitor for that trigger event.

When the Zap runs, it will execute all actions simultaneously. You can always add extra steps to any Zap to complete the onboarding process in a single Zap.

Monitor the onboarding tasks

Anyone who has started a new job knows that when the offer is accepted, the paperwork keeps coming in. Try keeping everything in a database instead of constantly sending links to handbooks and slides to new hires.

With the Kanban View, new hires can view tasks by priority, category, type or deadline. This view allows them to visualize data at a glance for easy access to resources.

This view is restricted to the premium version only. Users on the free plan cannot create a kanban view and prioritize moving those tasks through the workflow.

To create a Kanban view to track the tasks of new hires:

  1. Select the view switcher (current view option at the top of the table) to reveal the view pop-up.
  2. Select the ‘Kanban +’ button and enter a name for this view
  3. Click ‘Add Kanban’.
  4. Select a single select field the cards should be stacked by or click ‘+ add single select field’ to create a new single select field:

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Hide or show hidden fields in a kanban view by clicking the ‘Customize cards’ button in the view bar.

When the view is set up, you want to make the resources public to hires. To share the link with anyone, click on ‘Share view’ at the top of the screen and proceed to create a private shareable link to the form.

For more information about Kanban view, read our user documentation on how to create and manage a kanban view.

What’s Next?

The aim of the onboarding process is to manage expectations. To work their way toward achieving those objectives, new employees must have a clear grasp of what the company expects from them.

While the process of onboarding a new employee can be managed asynchronously, even the most basic duties can occasionally slip your mind when data is not properly managed. Without keeping everything in sync in a database, it might be daunting to manage new hires quickly as your business expands and the number of staff increases.

Need help getting started? Use this new hire onboarding template. Upgrade to a Baserow paid plan for access to the premium features, like kanban board and row commenting.

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