5 ways to leverage training to improve employee onboarding

Employee onboarding has long been recognized as a pivotal process for organizations. However, in the wake of the pandemic, with the shift to remote-first and distributed workforces, it has taken on an even greater significance. Organizations need to reimagine their onboarding strategies to ensure new hires are integrated, motivated, and prepared for success in their roles.

Research underscores the critical nature of effective onboarding procedures and the potential they have for strengthening employee retention, productivity, commitment, and overall achievement:

  • Onboarding boosts new-hire retention – Research from Brandon Hall Group reveals that companies using solid onboarding practices experience an impressive 82% boost in new-hire retention. This statistic emphasizes the significance of providing a comprehensive onboarding experience that helps new employees feel welcomed, supported, and integrated into the organization.
  • Onboarding increases productivity – Companies that implement effective onboarding experience a 54% increase in productivity. By providing new employees with the necessary training, resources, and support from the start, organizations can accelerate their learning curve and enable them to contribute to the company’s goals more quickly and efficiently.
  • Onboarding cultivates commitment – Employees who undergo a comprehensive onboarding process are reportedly 18 times more committed to their organizations. By investing in a robust onboarding program that aligns with your company’s culture, mission, and business goals, you can move beyond a “one-sized-fits-all” orientation module, or a “check-the-box” compliance course to cultivate a sense of loyalty, engagement, and dedication among new hires.
  • More than half of organizations aren’t optimizing their onboarding – Despite the proven impact of effective onboarding, 58% of firms predominantly concentrate their onboarding efforts on procedures and paperwork, according to Sapling HR. While paperwork will always be a part of onboarding, the best onboarding gives new hires an opportunity to learn more about their employer. To truly enhance the onboarding experience, organizations should move beyond administrative requirements to provide a holistic approach that focuses on their company’s cultural values, goal alignment, relationship building, and ongoing support.

It’s tough to argue with those numbers, so let’s just get into how to create a training-driven onboarding process that takes your people from pre-hire to long-term contribution and leadership. Here are five ways that training can be used improve employee onboarding:

  1. Centralize: It’s critical to make it easy for employees to find courses and supporting materials. Sure, you’ll still have some documents and processes that live in the HR/payroll system, but hosting your training and just-in-time materials within your learning management system (LMS) gives new hires an easy-to-access home base for their onboarding experience. Use your LMS to make it easy for new hires to follow their personalized learning paths, and for managers to track completions. Those administering new hire training will be grateful to work within a single, centralized system, rather than having to post, manage, and track materials across multiple systems.
  2. Mobilize: In increasingly remote-first and distributed workplaces,  it is crucial to leverage technology to mobilize the onboarding process. An LMS can serve as a centralized hub for new hires to access training courses, materials, and resources from anywhere, on any device – online or offline. Mobile training is a must in today’s fast-paced work environment, as it allows new hires to access training materials on-the-go and at their own convenience. This flexibility not only accommodates a variety of learners’ needs, but also helps new employees feel more in control of their own onboarding experience
  3. Personalize: By investing in a robust onboarding program that aligns with your company’s culture, mission, and business goals, you can move beyond a “one-sized-fits-all” approach, to truly bring new hires into the fold. Following a self-paced learning path that supports their unique career trajectory will give learners more ownership of their onboarding. Adding gamification like badging and leadersboards is also a great way to bring new hires on board; it gets them in the game (literally) and begins to create some of the fun, competition, and camaraderie needed to retain today’s workers.
  4. Bitesize: In order to avoid overwhelming a new person, you can break onboarding courses into smaller pieces (i.e., microlearning). This approach can helps with knowledge retrieval as well as increase engagement in a multi-screen, attention-depleted world. Forcing new hires to participate in long, multi-hour classes (even virtual ones) is no longer the standard. Now, it’s about embedding training throughout the experience, whether on Day One or Day One-hundred-and-one, and embracing the value of continuous learning.
  5. Informalize:  The 70:20:10 model proposes that 90% of learning should be accomplished through on-the-job experiences and interpersonal interactions. Encouraging informal learning through mentorship and coaching, and making self-service access to learning materials easy through your LMS can ensure that your new hires gather the information and connections they need to succeed in their new roles.

By leveraging training and embracing technology, organizations can improve new-hire retention, increase productivity, foster commitment, and create a positive onboarding experience that sets employees up for long-term success. It is crucial for companies to prioritize onboarding beyond procedures and paperwork and invest in comprehensive employee training that address the unique needs and challenges of the modern workforce.