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4 min read

eLearning for Onboarding: How to Engage and Inform New Hires with Online Training Tools

Portrait of student girl in training courseYou probably know that onboarding correlates to employee retention. In fact, according to Wynham Group research, new employees who went through a structured onboarding program were 58 percent more likely to still be with the organization after three years. Thoughtful, comprehensive onboarding is one of the best ways to get new hires engaged and integrated into your company culture and community fast.

eLearning options are a great way to accomplish onboarding for on-site and remote employees. And it doesn’t have to be expensive or overwhelming to get started.

Mix and Match Modalities

Training experts divide elearning into synchronous, asynchronous, and blended approaches (or “modalities”). Synchronous training includes in-person or web-based training sessions that take place in real-time, often with a group, on a predetermined time and date. Asynchronous training includes paper- or web-based training materials that trainees complete on their own at their own pace. Many trainers recommend a blended approach with a mix of real-time learning sessions in addition to self-paced learning activities. This lets workers balance their schedules and get their regular work done (asynchronous) but still have opportunities to meet coworkers and ask questions (synchronous).

There are options for elearning that fit any company size or budget, such as:

Self-paced learning modules – Create an onboarding portal on your website (password protected please!) or your company intranet and post a combination of documents, pre-recorded videos, and visuals like flowcharts and pictures. Include a module for each step of the onboarding process such as company history, welcome messages from leadership, paperwork and HR information, virtual tours, FAQ lists, examples of behavior expectations (i.e. answering phones, client interactions, soft skills), and anything else new hires need to be successful from the start.

You can also customize content by department or job function. As your business grows, a self-paced onboarding program is easily scaled up, whether workers are on-site or remote. This option also minimizes the disruption to the workday since employees can fit training into their schedules. It also allows people to review the information as often and as quickly or slowly as they need. Because this option does not include a “live” instructor, be sure to provide ways for new hires to reach HR with questions.

On-demand/point-of-need instruction – Trainees are more likely to remember information when they have a chance to apply it right away. In addition to formal onboarding training, consider offering bite-sized tutorials employees will need in their early weeks and months at work. It’s sometimes called “microlearning” because it’s focused on small tasks instead of entire policies or procedures. For example, it might have seemed easy to find the online leave request and schedule change forms during orientation, but a month later when they actually need the form, it’s probably harder to recall the steps. Try to anticipate needs like these, or survey employees directly about what they tend to forget. Tutorials should be tightly focused and brief so they don’t disturb the regular workflow (and if they’re easy to find and digest, there’s more chance they’ll get used too).

It doesn’t have to be time-consuming or complicated. Here are some simple examples:

  • Make screen captures or screencasts with narration of instructions for using software or navigating online menus.
  • Recruit a volunteer to film a quick video on proper phone greetings and call transferring protocols, and pair it with a picture of the dialpad with appropriate buttons highlighted to show the steps for a transfer.
  • Type up a list of written steps in a single PowerPoint slide or PDF to give employees the direction they need when they need it.

Interactive training – This can be in-person in a classroom setting or over the web via webinars or video conference sessions if workers are in more than one location. Tools for online chat and screen sharing are great ways to keep everyone focused, but for new hires, consider including at least a few video conference sessions so everyone can see and speak directly so they get to know each other.

The challenge with synchronous elearning is scheduling a time that works for everyone, but one of the great advantages is the ability for trainees to ask questions as they come up, and the chance for instructors to gauge in the moment whether the content is making sense to participants. Don’t forget that you can also record these live sessions and post them to your training portal for employees to review later.

Best Practices for Best Results

To get the most out of your onboarding program, keep these elearning best practices in mind:

  • Consider using learning management software (LMS), which lets you easily create customized courses and materials with a user-friendly interface. Some packages also let you track employees as they progress through each module and keep records on when certifications expire or mandatory training is due. Many also offer the ability to build quizzes, games, and other engaging activities. LMS software is available at a variety of prices depending on the number of users and features you want:
  • Revise content regularly to keep it fresh and up to date. Out of date information is not helpful to new hires and can be quite confusing, so make updates to reflect new policies, members of leadership teams, corporate structure, and even the physical environment, especially if you give a virtual tour.
  • Include fun ways to apply what is learned and stay engaged during training. Dull content encourages trainees to check email and tune out the message, which means they retain less. Features like games (i.e. scavenger hunt through the handbook, interactive quiz show format), humor, and opportunities to practice skills during training really help.
  • Take time to explain any technology required (i.e. webcams, browser versions, plug-ins) before remote training starts and encourage trainees to check their equipment before proceeding.
  • Check that all content conveys a consistent message. For example, use the latest versions of your company logo and mission statement across your materials.
  • Use video and written messages to showcase your company culture.
  • Provide opportunities to ask questions during live training or after the fact. For example, create a hotline or email account for questions, partner new employees with a “buddy” or mentor in their department, or identify an HR representative dedicated to proactively checking in with new hires.
  • Consider making online training sessions and portals compatible with mobile phones to maximize access.
  • Look for ways to expand elearning, and especially on-demand/point-of-need training, beyond onboarding, such as training when implementing new technology or procedures, or company-wide mandatory training.

Getting on board with elearning is a great way to engage new hires and make sure they actually learn what the need to know quickly. It’s an investment in your employees and in turn, your company’s stability. Horizon can help with support for onboarding and all things HR. Please contact us today!


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