You’re hiring new employees. You’re (hopefully) training those new employees. But are you being efficient about it? There have been lots of studies that link quality onboarding to not only employee success, but also their tenure. Employees who participate in a structured onboarding process are more likely to succeed at their job and more likely to stay with your organization longer. But how do you ensure this initial training is done consistently, and is provided cost effectively? Well, move it online (duh…it was in the title of this article). Here are 5 reasons why moving your onboarding training online can be a great idea.
Onboarding Is More Than Just Training
While this is an article about the benefits of moving your onboarding training online, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that awesome onboarding is more than just training. It’s a process that actually starts before your employee walks in the door on day one. And depending on the company and the job, onboarding can last up to 6 or 12 months. This time is all about inducting the new employee into their job responsibilities and the culture of your organization. This involves training for sure, but is also about meeting people and making connections. Nobody can navigate the corporate red tape successfully on an island. This onboarding time is about building knowledge, confidence, and relationships that will make your new people successful within this ecosystem.
1. Standardize New Employee Messaging
Human delivered training is great. Ideally, your onboarding training process should include a mixture of human interaction AND self-paced learning. But the problem with instructor-led training is that it’s tough to control the messaging. Earlier we discussed a recent project with a local Park District where they were having these exact consistency issues. Every supervisor trained their new people their own way. Some took their time and spent the time needed, while others blew through the policies like they were going out of style.
In the end, switching to an eLearning format helps control this message. You get to determine the message, write / approve the script, and know that every new employee is hearing the same thing. Starting a new job is hard enough, don’t compound that issue by sending mixed messages. If all your training presents a unified front, you’ll look better, and the new employees will feel better about the process.
2. Reduce Delivery Costs
Time is money – you know that. So how much time (money) are you spending on your valuable resources saying the same thing, over…and over…and over. Depending on how many people you hire, and how often you run new employee training sessions, possibly a ton. At least for some of the basics, don’t your people have better things to do than impersonate a broken record? Of course they do!
Almost all new employee training includes some aspects of the company (culture), some general policy-type information, and job-specific stuff. Some of that is common for everyone, and some is role-specific. The more general information is, the easier it is to create a universal lesson that applies to groups of people. Design / develop once, and forget it. No doubt that eLearning takes more time and money to create upfront than ILT, but it scales, and you can more than make it up on the back end with virtually no delivery costs. The more you do, the more you save.
3. Include Remote / Offsite Learners
Do you have any employees that work remotely? If so, you should know they feel excluded from just about everything. Despite the benefits remote employees have when it comes to freedom and autonomy, they miss being a part of something. Cubicle neighbors can’t help but be up in each others’ business (for better or for worse). But remote employees don’t get that bonding experience (for better or for worse). This is even more pronounced when someone is new and doesn’t know anyone.
It’s really easy for new employees to feel like they’re on an island. In many (most) situations, it isn’t feasible to have those people work out of the office for their entire onboarding process, so how are you going to ensure they get the same experience as everyone else? Well, the more of your training that’s online, the easier it is to include them in that part of it. The connections and bonding I talked about at the outset are tougher to make them a part of, but the training is the easy part if you use eLearning.
4. Cognitive Load
I had an old co-worker that, 10 minutes into a meeting would exclaim, “my brain is full.” While this sounded silly and was apparently a case of considerably low retention capacity, the concept is a reality. We’ve all felt this way after a long training session (typically more than 10 minutes). Too often trainers try to throw everything at new employees, thinking more is better. SPOILER ALERT: it isn’t. There is empirical research supporting the fact that our retention goes down when there is too much information presented. So we need to find ways to make this information more digestible.
A better approach to this is scaffolding how onboarding training is presented. Most things presented during onboarding training could be viewed in tiers. That might be from general knowledge to more role-specific, or from basic tasks to more advanced. However you do it, a common approach is to use eLearning to construct the foundation and humans to build upon it. This type of blended approach can leverage automation to deliver foundational concepts and reserve your more valuable resources (people) to deliver the information that requires more nuance. This helps with both the human / self-paced balance and delivery cost issues.
5. Learn It When You Need It
Similar to the Cognitive Load topic, is the concept of learning things when they matter to you. It has long been known that motivation is an important contributor to the learning process. If learners don’t care about the information you’re presenting to them, they are extremely unlikely to learn / remember it. I couldn’t count how many times I’ve heard trainers say “well at least they can say they heard about X” when trying to cram everything the learner will encounter in their job into the initial onboarding training. This makes no sense. Suppose someone tells you 50 things today, and you only care about 4 of them now. Do you think that 6 months from now when you randomly hear about one of the other 46 things you’ll, recall anything about the initial ramble? Guess what, you won’t.
Along these lines, I’ve never understood why day one training ever includes training on employees selecting their benefits. Other than knowing generally about the fact they get benefits, employees don’t care about picking their plan on day one, they don’t qualify for typically 3 months. Or training employees on advanced functions or rare situations that they will not face as a noob. This makes no sense, and is why good onboarding programs last months long. Plan out when it makes sense for people to learn things based on when they’ll use them. If you won’t let new call center reps take tier 2 calls for 4 months, then don’t start training them on those responsibilities until then.
With this level of segmentation, it can be hard to have the right person ready to deliver the right information exactly when it’s needed. But if you plan accordingly, and create a library of eLearning courses that address new employee information in a structured way, you can present each employee with exactly what they need, WHEN they need it.