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Top 3 Online Training Best Practices for New Hire Orientation

2 years ago, when Steve Klein walked into ABC Bank as a new hire, he was all set to give the bank his best. He looked forward to his role as management trainee with the prestigious bank and arrived bright and early, eager to start his new career. Sadly, the enthusiasm quickly faded away, only to be replaced by disillusionment. The reason – bad, unplanned induction training.

 We have all been new hires at some point – and we probably have our own horror stories to tell about induction training. Some of us tell these tales with pride – like heroes who overcame and conquered those terrible first days, weeks, or even months of training, with courage and bravery. For some others, those days were nothing short of hell. For some others, it was a walk through the park because there was no training at all – they just got in and learned – sometimes the hard way. The stories get worse with online induction training. Don’t get me wrong – I’m a big fan of online induction training – the benefits are immense – saved time, reduced costs, hastened onboarding process, reduced anxiety for learners, and an extremely high success rate; but, I kid you not when I say – your good intentions will fall to the wayside if this training is not strategically implemented.

Here is my list of three best practices that will make your online new hire training successful. Before I dive into these best practices, I would like to mention that online induction training is not rocket science – rather it’s all about understanding the psychology of learning and implementing it in an online learning environment.

1. Include the ‘human touch’

Training can be challenging when it is provided online – “unmanned,” as it were. Battling it out alone, in this new environment can be overwhelming for new employees, leaving them feeling detached from the organization. Communication is a must.

Induction training is the employee’s first introduction to the company – its rules, policies, and culture. New hires must be allowed to ask questions and get their doubts cleared to enable them to start off on the right foot. While online learning makes use of collaborative and social learning, I recommend a blended approach that makes use of both online and classroom training that gives new hires a chance to get their doubts cleared, in a non-online environment.

Other ways to create a “connect”:

  • Begin online orientation programs with a welcome video or audio message from the CEO or from the new hire’s immediate boss – even better would be to personalize this message (wherein the CEO uses the new hire’s name), to make the new employee feel welcomed – a very important first step to make them feel wanted and accepted.
  • Use this portal to introduce the board of directors or other significant employees.
  • Set goals and expectations regarding policies, procedures, and performance – this makes the organization feel “real”.
  • Include a directory of existing employees – the departments they work in and their roles – who can be contacted in case of an emergency.

2. Provide short, continuous learning vs. long, quick training 

Are you in a hurry to get your new hires onboard? If yes, then don’t push them to learn everything there is to know in a week – or in a month – or even in a year. Learning is a continuous process that happens on an ongoing basis. Absorbing large amounts of information in a short span leads to less retention – this holds good for classroom, as well as for online training. Learning must take place at a slow and even pace. Don’t “kill” your new hires’ enthusiasm to learn, by overloading them with information. Keep learning crisp, short, direct, to the point, and targeted – so there is no ambiguity attached to their roles and responsibilities.

To prevent your new hires from getting lost in a ‘sea’ of information, you can:

  • Provide short bursts of microlearning instead of one long training session.
  • Chunk content wisely into easily understandable and digestible lessons and modules.
  • Keep training content brief and to the point. Provide “need-to-know information,” and make “nice-to-know information” optional.
  • Provide Just-in-time support throughout the year to help new hires revisit and review training through the year.

The more complex a job role, the more care must be taken to provide learning in small steps. Employees with ever-changing job roles must be provided with training that extends over a year to be able to absorb and retain the various changes involved.

3. Take individual training styles and learning needs into consideration

We have said it a million times – no two individuals are alike – and in a learning context, needs and styles differ. The only way learning can take place is when learners are given a chance to explore their environment in a way that makes sense to them – by approaching learning via their unique learning style.

Here are some ways that online training can be customized to cater to the learning styles and training needs of individual new hires.

  • Include elements that cater to the needs of kinesthetic, audio, and visual learners.
  • Take into consideration the needs of millennials who are used to searching for information online, as well as those who are uncomfortable with online learning.
  • Use a variety of elements such as videos, audio recordings, animations, eLearning games, and images that will keep their interest level high.

A new hire decides whether he wants to stay with a company within the first 30 days of joining. Induction training is an opportunity to make your new hires stay on with you, and leave a lasting and positive impact that will – at the end of the day, benefit both of you.

The eLearning Champion’s Guide to Master Design, Delivery, and Evaluation