Training New Employees Starts with an Effective Onboarding Program
Training new employees may be among a series of to-do items on a first-day checklist, but it should also be well planned and strategically developed. It's widely understood that the new employee onboarding experience is a key element in the ability to retain a new hire. What's critical is identifying and implementing training and onboarding techniques that can result in new employees who are eager to invest their skills and enthusiasm into your business.
Here are some techniques for training new employees to bolster your onboarding program:
Clarify the underlying purpose. Effective onboarding involves much more than simply outlining the responsibilities and job duties of a new hire's position. The broader purpose is to instill an in-depth understanding of your company's history, culture, and mission. Presented in a positive, all-inclusive manner, this approach can result in a burgeoning sense of pride on the new employee's part, and a strong willingness to hit the ground running.
Present the resources available to new employees. A certain amount of knowledge must be conveyed at the outset of the training process, but too much information all at once may become self-defeating. Instead, provide all the materials a new hire needs to learn on his or her own during the onboarding process. This can include handouts, newsletters, and links embedded in your online training program, so new employees can easily locate and refer back to this information. Self-starters will be happy to explore these resources on their own.
Design each training session with distinct goals and content. Structure is essential. Assuming your training program is based online, set up individual sessions (or modules), each with its own objective, and the tools needed to work through that session. As for the content of these modules, simple is often more effective than complicated.
The same can be said for what you're attempting to communicate (information about policies, vision, etc.) and how you express it. Where possible, avoid lengthy blocks of text and also avoid in-house jargon that a new hire can't be expected to understand. Opt instead for easy-to-grasp bullet points and graphics that convey the essence of your message as clearly as possible.
Employ a variety of learning tools. Not everyone learns at the same pace or by the same methods, and successful onboarding programs embrace a variety of learning resources. Offer an assortment of training media (video, interactive games, webinars, apps, animation, etc.) that promotes greater interest and engagement.
It also helps to offer some "real-life" experiences, such as shadowing another employee or establishing mentoring programs. Wherever new employees can apply what they've learned online to the actual workspace increases their sense of comfort and builds confidence in their ability to master an unfamiliar work environment.
Develop an accessible, ongoing training program. Building on the prevalence of mobile devices, consider optimizing your training program for mobile use and making it readily available to new hires. More importantly, mobile-friendly programs reinforce the idea that training is ongoing, rather than something that new hires must simply start and complete during their first days on the job.
Consider setting up a schedule of training sessions – at least once a month – during the first 90 days, both to reinforce what's been taught previously and to introduce new elements. Knowing that training is part of their job makes the experience feel more consistent and relevant to their growing knowledge base.
Seek employee feedback. After the initial training is over, invite your new staff to offer insights into what worked and what was less successful during the onboarding process. Understanding what elements of the program were most gratifying as well as what could have been better for easing in to a new workplace are crucial learnings for HR teams. Based on this input, you can consider refining the program to better ensure a higher level of success for future new hires.
Effective onboarding often translates into a sense of confidence and belonging on the part of new hires – a key factor in determining whether they will remain part of your workforce. And their tenure at your organization is crucial: retaining talented employees can directly translate into greater stability and productivity for your business.