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Re-think your onboarding with creative eLearning techniques

by Susan Dumas - June 19, 2018

Research shows that a well designed onboarding process has the biggest impact on employee engagement and sets new employees up for success. First impressions last, and you won't have a second chance to create a first impression! Using eLearning for onboarding can help you standardise the process and use a variety of tools to connect employees quickly to your organisation. 

Getting onboarding right

 Onboarding new employees is an expensive and time-consuming exercise and eLearning allows a repeatable and consistent onboarding experience for all employees. It also allows companies to monitor and support their progress. And with new social and collaborative ways of working and learning together, onboarding can connect new employees from different locations all over the world – gather the collective wisdom right from the start of their careers with you!

Using eLearning for onboarding can also help you to extend onboarding to the recruitment and selection phase. Where do potential recruits go to find out what it is like to work with you, for example?


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Impact of effective onboarding

According to the Allied Workforce Mobility Survey, companies lose 25 % of employees within a year:

  • Almost 30% of companies reported that it takes a year or longer for a new employee to reach full productivity
  • 25% of companies said their onboarding program did not include any kind of training
  • 60% of companies indicated they don’t set any milestones or goals for new hires


If attracting and retaining talent is still one of biggest
challenges that CEOs cite, then we need to do better!


A good online learning course provides the potential for a much more exciting and memorable teaching experience than handing a new employee a bunch of documents or asking them to read the company website. If you want to commission, or are involved in the design of an onboarding programme, let me share the benefit of my experience with these 5 tips.

5 tips for creating better onboarding using eLearning

1. Know the bigger picture

If you're writing an onboarding course, remember that it's likely to be just one part of a bigger onboarding process. It's essential that you find out how employees are onboarded currently; the course may be replacing an existing part of the process or it may be an additional resource. Find out what part(s) of the process learners like and dislike, and why, and use that information to the benefit of your course. In short, do your homework first!

2. Speak to the right people

Try to speak to those who are most directly affected by the training. Speak to some pending or recent new hires to find out their greatest fears starting out and what they hope to learn from an onboarding course. Likewise, it's important that you understand the business objectives of the piece. What does HR or the L&D Manager expect new employees to know and/or be able to do after taking this course?

At a minimum, an onboarding course should aim to:

  • Make new employees feel welcome
  • Give a good first impression of the organisation
  • Explain the brand, culture and values (reinforced through the tone and visuals of the course)
  • Explain what's expected of employees in terms of acceptable behaviour, regulations to be complied with etc
  • Explain how things work e.g. Where’s the cafeteria? What's the dress code? How do I book time off?
  • Help them understand their place in the organisation
  • Make them feel them feel enthusiastic about how their role/input can make a difference

3. Personalise and make the learning experience timely

Those of you of an age will remember the joy of getting a 'mixed tape' as a present from a friend or partner. It was a playlist of songs, each chosen because it meant something to you. In the same way, a good onboarding experience should be tailored to the needs of the learner. What is essential information for one new hire may be irrelevant for another in a different role. Everyone may need to learn about the company history and values, but do they all need to know the procurement process? Or more importantly, do they need to know about it during their first few days or weeks of employment?

Only teach what's useful and essential; don't overwhelm new employees with irrelevant or 'nice to know' information. To achieve this, you need to need to find out all you can about the learners/new employees. What roles will they be performing in the company? What information do they need to know to do that? Also try to allow some flexibility and autonomy for learners to dip in and out of the course. Make it mobile-responsive to allow learners study at a time and place that suits them.



4. Tap into existing resources

Don't reinvent the wheel if you don't need to. Many companies have lots of useful information on their website or intranet that you can reuse, e.g. an animation or company video, or link to common resources like company history or organisation charts.

While you want the onboarding to be a comprehensive reference point for new employees, think about what the essential information is and where you feel you can add most value. Use your time and budget to find creative ways of presenting that information, rather than just reiterating what learners can read on the website. For example, rather than repeat a HR policy on bullying or discrimination, you could use immersive scenarios to demonstrate everyday examples of how these issues can play out in the workplace, their consequences and impact – and what staff should do to help with prevention.

5. Keep it real – encourage story collection and storytelling

Probably the most useful and memorable thing you can provide a new employee is good advice from someone who knows. Existing employees have an insight into the company and working life at that company that can't be gleaned from reading a website. Tap into this resource by including stories or short video clips from colleagues who have 'been there and done that,' be it to illustrate best practice learned from years of experience, or to preach a cautionary tale of 'the time it all went wrong for me!' It is also a good idea to include a welcome message at the start from a key person or people within the organisation and finish with a 'good luck' or reassuring message.

One particular example of this that has worked well – set up a ‘Treasure hunt’ where new employees have to interview and ask certain questions to selected employees. The winner of this game is the best answers in the shortest time. This encourages all sorts of engagement and makes it easy for new employees to get to know existing staff. The questions need to be relatively open and not just black or white answers. For example:

  1. Find someone in this organisation who has been here more than 10 years and ask them to summarise the changes
  2. Find someone who manages the xyz function and ask how they became qualified for that role
  3. Find someone who is close to retirement and ask them to share their best and most challenging times with the company

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Are you onboard with eLearning?

If you want to talk to us about ideas for your onboarding or an induction programme, check out our content development services. We've created onbarding programmes for many clients including Mastercard, Bank of New York Mellon, FEXCO and eir


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