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Onboarding is typically seen as a time to train new hires on the company and their roles within the company. While these areas are definitely an important part of the process, they are very employer-centric and often fail to address the individual employees’ needs.

If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that this model does not work. Your employees are your most valuable asset and treating them as such is the foundation of business success. We saw hoards of employees jump ship over the past three years for organizations that put workers first. And while this has leveled out due to the impending recession, the shift is largely here to stay. 

The Case for Employee-Centric Onboarding

Today’s top companies are rethinking how they bring new hires up to speed. After all, this period really sets the stage. Onboarding gives employees a first impression of your culture and your commitment to their growth and development. 

Those first few days, hours, and yes, even minutes, shape very deeply how an employee thinks of their employer — and if they’ll stay with the company long term,” writes Geoff Webb for Training Industry. “Delivering a better employee experience has become top priority for many employers: 83% of human resources (HR) leaders say it’s a priority this year, so why not start with those first set of interactions?”

Plus, the data tells us these efforts are always worth it. A well-designed onboarding program can increase new hire retention by 82% and 69% of employees are more likely to stay with a company for three years. This means huge cost savings for organizations since employee turnover is expensive in terms of dollars and resources. 

So what does a stellar onboarding program look like in 2023? Employee-centric onboarding sets new hires up for success while offering an engaging learning experience, connection to their work and professional growth. Gone are the days of lengthy paperwork and self-guided desk learning. And unfortunately, the long, generic training sessions and stale LMS content that have been recycled for years have no place in today’s workplace. But if we are being honest, this is for the best. This model of throwing a ton of info at someone and hoping it sticks never really worked anyway. It’s just not how the human brain absorbs and stores information. Today’s workers learn by doing and taking part in a variety of training activities. Let’s dive into the five key characteristics of a modern and effective onboarding process.

Employee-Centric Onboarding Is Blended

To address shorter attention spans, organizations must use a mix of training activities. For example, a blended learning program might include E-learning modules, shadowing and interaction with colleagues, classroom training (yes, it still has its place from time to time) and practice in a pilot-like setting or under supervision. Microlearning should be a part of this approach as it allows you to reinforce the most important information needed to perform the job. It also allows you to use scenario-based questions to build skills and confirm employees are ready to hit the ground running. Think of it as the glue that holds your learning ecosystem together, ensuring you get the most out of your other investments and offering the data to prove your program success to the organization.

Employee-Centric Onboarding Is Convenient

Learning a host of unfamiliar tools and systems when you start a new job is daunting enough. Asking new hires to access training across multiple systems and manage a running list of logins only contributes to making them feel like fish out of water. You can easily improve this experience by integrating your HR and learning tech stack to deliver training in the tools employees use each day. Consolidating all training materials in one central location such as an LMS or LXP eliminates the need to toggle between multiple systems and prevents a decline in engagement.

A central learning hub also puts learners in the driver seat and empowers them to take charge of their own professional development. They can take courses of interest during down time and consult material when they need a refresher in the flow of work. 

Microlearning takes this one step further by delivering questions on the most important training material. These challenges, which can quickly be answered on any device, help new hires assess their progress and build the confidence needed to succeed in their new roles.



Employee-Centric Onboarding Is Relevant

While some of the content delivered during onboarding, such as company history, mission, vision and goals, will be universal, the bulk of the material you deliver to new hires should be role-focused. HR and training teams can work with managers to build programs for each department that teach the critical skills and knowledge needed to start. As previously mentioned, other might-need content can be delivered at a steady pace over time or made available as needed in your LMS or LXP.

To further personalize learning, allow new hires to test out of certain areas they have already mastered. Being required to complete training on topics they already know is an instant engagement killer, a waste of money and sends the message that you don’t value your employees’ time. Microlearning software can be used to assess baseline knowledge before creating a plan for each individual. This allows new hires to focus solely on the skills they need to start making an impact quickly. This Microlearning program data can then be used to bridge a conversation about long-term career goals to retain employees and assist in succession planning.

Additionally, microlearning can facilitate branched learning, allowing employees to embark on their own distinct career journeys. Moving toward an integrated learning ecosystem can even automate these processes for organizations. Let’s look at an example of what’s possible with this approach. 

  • A new sales rep completes an instructor-led course on objection handling
  • They are auto-enrolled in a microlearning challenge to assess what he learned on the topic
  • The data reveals that they struggled in a particular area of objection handling that involves competitive intelligence.
  • This then triggers an enrollment into an e-learning course for more information on the company’s competition and position in the market
  • To confirm mastery this time around, they are then re-enrolled in the microlearning challenge

While all of the above is unfolding, managers are using microlearning analytics to simultaneously coach them where they need it – addressing any questions and offering encouragement. The possibilities are endless and the automation that exists today makes it all happen seamlessly in the background. Multiple areas of the organization can contribute to learning and growth, all without having to add more work to someone’s plate.

Employee-Centric Onboarding Is Future-Focused

It’s never too early to discuss career paths. In fact, a major selling point for many of today’s workers is companies that offer robust and actionable career development plans. Broach the subject during interviews to learn goals and then work them into the onboarding process, aligning key job functions and training milestones with company objectives. Where applicable, connect the employee’s role to driving business goals as much as possible. This creates a sense of purpose behind day-to-day tasks.

Managers should also begin exploring career goals during this time and come up with a plan. Outline clear paths, milestones and resources at their disposal, and set aside regular time during one on ones to assess progress and make any adjustments. Of course, this requires giving people leaders insight into their direct reports’ performance. The frontline manager dashboards in Qstream’s microlearning software offer real-time insight into areas where their direct reports are excelling and where they might be struggling. These precise coaching opportunities help busy managers offer targeted, more meaningful development to team members.

Finally, schedule time for new hires to meet with mentors and connect them with those at the organization that have successfully followed a similar path.

Employee-Centric Onboarding Is Fun Yet Foundational

In an age of shorter attention spans and constant digital distractions, I think this one goes without saying. To keep new hires engaged with learning, you must keep the material quick and interesting, and deliver it in a way that keeps them coming back for more. 

Light gamification, or game mechanics, as we call it at Qstream, via team and individual leaderboards incentivize employees to answer microlearning questions. They can easily assess their own progress and see how they stack up against their peers. In turn, they have a clear picture of the areas they need to work on and can easily track their improvement.

Training teams and managers can also have peace of mind that new hires have the baseline skills needed to start in their roles. This is especially important for high-compliance industries such as healthcare and pharma, where failure to recall knowledge puts people’s lives at risk. 

Interested in learning how Qstream’s microlearning platform contributes to an outstanding learner experience? Click here to enroll in our free trial today.

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