To drive outcomes and ensure lasting impact, L&D teams need an effective, well-defined onboarding strategy that’s deeply connected to the career goals of new employees. By designing an onboarding program that supports their career journey, you ensure your employees are engaged, satisfied, and loyal, resulting in increased performance and lower turnover rates. It’s vital to ensure a consistent learning experience while encouraging individual growth.
To get you on the right track, we’ll focus on overcoming the common challenges of onboarding and explore onboarding best practices that can make your program as effective as possible. But first some facts about onboarding from the experts at Fosway, according to L&D professionals:
- 51% say career development is a top priority
- 47% say upskilling and reskilling is a top priority
- 40% say onboarding and reboarding is a top priority
- Only 10% of respondents say their strategy is very effective at delivering career development and only 18% say their strategy is very effective at delivering effective onboarding and reboarding.
- 46% of respondents felt that their upskilling / reskilling and career development strategies were ineffective.
The ideal onboarding program
We know that an effective program should foster a sense of belonging, develop commitment in individuals, include all talents, offer a fun experience, and support the development of individual skills. We also know that a successful onboarding program should reduce the time it takes to develop skills, entice recruitment, reduce employee turnover, improve the process of transferring skills, and enhance corporate branding and culture. But getting it right can take L&D teams a lot of trial and error!
Let’s examine some of the common onboarding challenges that lead to ineffective programs:
Not knowing what your new hires need to succeed
You can’t create a great onboarding program without being clear on what your learning objectives are before you begin. What kind of learners are your new hires? What skills do they need? How much time can your team dedicate to creating and maintaining your onboarding program, including course design, updates, and input from stakeholders? What learning resources are available to you now and what resources will you need to add to your arsenal? Knowing the answers to these questions before you get started will save you valuable time.
Lacking appropriate learning resources
Relying on PowerPoint presentations, PDFs, videos, and infographics alone is a recipe for failure. If those are all the resources you have at hand, you’re not ready to begin. You need a large suite of diverse resources delivered in different ways to give learners their best chance at success. Face-to-face, blended social learning, and self-directed online modules should all be in your toolkit. Whatever the mix, human interactions need to be a big part of it, whether that’s a buddy system, face-to-face meetings, coffee breaks, or other social events.
Getting alignment and clarity with stakeholders
Do all your stakeholders share the same vision? Are they clear on the business outcomes they expect? More practically, who will keep the program updated? Someone needs to be assigned this duty so the program doesn’t get stale and lose effectiveness. New roles will also require new onboarding courses, and a strategy revamp might be required after a major organizational change or disruption.
What exactly do learners expect from onboarding?
As you design your onboarding program, it’s important to keep in mind what new hires are expecting you to deliver. Based on recent data, here’s what we know users prefer:
- an easy-to-use, guided experience with a progressive path to completion
- everything they need in one accessible place, like a single webpage or platform
- a structured approach that keeps learners on track
- some type of facilitation that lets new hires ask questions and get answers
- human experiences with special touches like a welcome address from upper management, testimonials from colleagues, and social opportunities
- a wide variety of high-quality learning resources that help them learn the way they learn best
- topics like company culture, vision and mission, commitment to sustainability, career opportunities, and diversity
- a feeling of acceptance, belonging, and immersion in the company culture
- a suite of social activities that complements the digital aspect of the onboarding program
- an experience that makes efficient use of their time and fits into the flow of work
It’s equally important to know what learners don’t want so you know what to avoid:
- information overload
- outdated content or formats
- a list of hyperlinks with no guidance
- a lack of social activities and interactivity
- no variety in the learning resources
The good news is that there is already an effective and proven methodology available right now!
Step one: determine your employee targets and map out both learning and business objectives.
Step two: identify the skills your people have and what new skills they need.
Step three: identify subject matter experts who can create and design engaging and impactful learning content.
Step four: think of the learning journey by designing your courses with storyboards, scripts, and platforms.
Step five: implement your program and then test, review, and collect feedback from users and stakeholders.
Onboarding in the flow of work
So as not to overwhelm new hires, the first day should set aside around 45 minutes for an introductory presentation. This can include a welcome video and brief discussions of the company’s organization and health and safety standards. Then have them dedicate two to three hours of time over the course of the first week for your company’s vision and mission, career opportunities, company culture and processes, organization and departmental information, DEI initiatives, and the ways new employees can contribute to the company’s mission. Over the first three months of employment, focus five hours of time to cover more granular issues such as products and services, best practices for the position, job-specific processes and tools, compliance, if relevant, and the helpful contacts and resources new hires need to succeed.
Onboarding as part of your upskilling strategy
Onboarding is the first and only chance you get to ensure that new hires blend in seamlessly with your teams, understand and embrace your corporate culture, and become valuable, effective team members as quickly as possible. Onboarding is how you make sure new employees acquire the knowledge, skills, behaviors, and connections needed to fit into your team and thrive in their roles. That’s why it’s important to have an effective, well-defined strategy that supports the career development journey of your new hires. Follow our guidelines for a successful onboarding program and they’ll get up to speed quickly, give their best for the team, and connect deeply with your culture.