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Digital onboarding with eLearning

Save on costs, induct employees successfully, increase satisfaction


Onboarding is a time-consuming process: All new employees need to get to know the company’s products and services, receive instruction on compliance guidelines and key internal processes, and perhaps even learn to use new software or equipment. An immense but unavoidable and important undertaking if you want your new employees to be ready to start work quickly and to be satisfied. What if you only had to design your onboarding process once, no matter how many new employees you welcomed in the future? 

With eLearning, you can transform your analog onboarding into a digital and reusable learning format that all new employees can use independently. Read about the benefits of digital onboarding, the perfect digital content for onboarding, and what implementation might look like in practice.


You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression

Did you know a recent StepStone survey of 13,000 specialist and executive staff revealed that just 50% of employees were greeted by their line manager on their first day? And that for about 15%, not even their team was informed of their arrival? A fatal starting point for many companies, given that the first day of work and the subsequent four weeks determine how far new employees identify with the company and become committed to it in the future. So why not use these crucial days to welcome new employees with a comprehensive onboarding process? Scarcely any process offers a better chance of prompting a positive and cheerful answer to the question: “Does my employer take care of me?” 

One drawback that probably also leads to inadequate onboarding processes is that analog onboarding is time-consuming and resource-heavy. Find out below how to digitalize your analog onboarding process, taking it to a whole new level—and saving time and resources.


Digital onboarding content

What digital onboarding is best for

eLearning makes it easy to deliver almost every aspect of onboarding that does not necessarily require interpersonal contact (e.g. welcoming new colleagues personally over a meal together in the canteen). Even better, eLearning enables onboarding to be significantly more detailed and in-depth, and to be delivered in a wide variety of formats.


Introducing the company

To work successfully in a company, employees have to develop an understanding of it. Your company’s guiding principles, mission, vision, corporate culture, corporate language, values are important and should be embedded in the minds of new employees from the outset. An online course on this topic is useful for new employees, but can also provide a reference point or refresher for existing employees on specific issues, to enable all employees to make regular use of the information.

Introduction to products and services

People who work for a company have to understand it, its services, and its products. Employees often embark on a journey of discovery, independently researching various departments. Companies that prepare, present, and explain their services/products on a digital basis can also, for example, provide additional materials, such as links to important documents, to ensure that knowledge of their core business is disseminated throughout the entire company. This too applies not only to new employees, but to every employee in the company—everyone needs to be kept constantly up to date with regard to products and services.

Compliance training

Occupational safety and health, data protection, data security—some training sessions are compulsory for every employee, and required by law. These are training sessions that employees have to be able to demonstrate they have completed regularly. And this is in itself good reason for companies to deliver compliance training digitally. It cuts costs, facilitates flexible learning, and, once a training session is created, it can be made available to as many participants as desired. Such training courses are also a mandatory part of the onboarding process, and this means that content is doubly useful: As well as new employees, it is relevant for existing employees, who are required by law to undergo regular training on these issues.

Introducing important processes

Every company has its own internal processes, procedures, structures, and responsibilities. For new employees, this can be a bit of a jungle at first. But here, too, processes can be explained and presented digitally: interactive explanations with practical examples can help employees understand and get to grips with complex issues rapidly. Once again, the precept is that internal company knowledge is accessible to everyone and can be retrieved by all employees when they need it. In future, questions such as: “Where should I send my health insurance certificate?” “What do I do with invoices?” “Who is the contact for product news?” “Who do I need the approval from?” will be provided with error-free answers in the form of units of digital knowledge that enable faster searches.

Introducing colleagues

From one day to the next, your new employee will have 50 new colleagues (or 30 or even 100) to work with. And as we all know, getting faces, names, and positions right takes time. However, new employees still need to know whom they have just met, what a particular colleague looks like, or whom they should approach on any given issue. And of course, they might also want to learn a little more about the people they will now be dealing with. And especially in these times of remote working, putting faces to names is a good starting point in social terms. Digital flashcards can be a fun and relaxed way to learn names, faces, and positions, for example. Personal details, such as how people take their coffee, loosen people up and engage the emotions in eLearning.

Introducing the working environment

Anyone who can’t explore everything in person right away can simply take the virtual path. This even enables additional information to be included. In offices, this could be about the printer, the copier room, the washroom facilities, or the locations of fire extinguishers. In large companies, virtual tours can go far beyond that—especially when it comes to manufacturing. Which commercial sector office employee ever enters the warehouse or production hall in real life? How do workers find their way around the factory? Where are the different machines located, what are they used for, and how do they actually work? Virtual tours allow complex knowledge to be acquired bit by bit, with each “stop” on the tour providing even more in-depth information. 

Software training

New employees have the right specialist knowledge. However, the software their new company uses can be unfamiliar, and completely alien to them. In this context, it’s important to familiarize new employees immediately with the key tools for them. They need to learn about the software and its application gradually and in appropriate stages, and to be able to familiarize themselves directly with the software, trying out what they have just learned. For example, a final training task for new employees could also be their first practical challenge, enabling them to acquire new knowledge at the same time. P.S.: Specific online training courses on the various software solutions at your company are also a great way of providing existing employees with further qualifications.


Nevertheless, digital onboarding should not completely replace personal induction training. It is therefore important to ensure that new employees still have personal mentors who can supplement eLearning with the necessary emotional and social support.


Benefits of digital onboarding

Digital onboarding brings many benefits—not only for new employees, but above all for you and your company.


No redundancy

You’re bound to be familiar with the scenario, or at least be able to imagine it: Analog induction processes are usually conducted by more than one individual. And before you know it, the same information is being communicated twice or even three times. But this unnecessary redundancy is time-consuming both for new employees and for their mentors, and thus costs your company valuable resources. Digital onboarding, on the other hand, can be precisely customized so that redundancy cannot even arise in the first place.

Minimal time investment

Digital onboarding takes significantly less time—particularly for mentors, but also for new employees. It frees up mentors to focus exclusively on the social aspects of induction, and allows new employees to adapt induction to their schedules and the first tasks on their to-do lists. With onboarding, people are highly motivated to take individual courses on the way to work or at home on the sofa—options that are not available with analog onboarding.


While analog onboarding has to be delivered separately to each individual new employee, involving repeated time investment, a digital onboarding process is created just once and can then be reused as often as required. In addition, the digital information serves as a point of reference for anyone who has forgotten something.


Structured digital coaching not only minimizes redundant communications, it also ensures that new employees get absolutely all the information they need—in consistent, high, and verifiable quality.

Increased productivity

The more quickly employees are inducted into the company, the happier they are and the more efficient the induction process is, the faster they can become productive. Professional induction and onboarding also have a positive effect on motivation and employee loyalty.

Increased employee loyalty

Employees’ initial impressions of companies and their culture are created within their first four weeks on the job. This short period of time is critical, determining how new employees engage with the company and thus also how committed they will be in the future. Extensive digital onboarding allows you to demonstrate how well you take care of your employees in this “hot phase”.

Image building

When you take an attentive approach to your employees, word gets around; this, of course, also becomes an important factor for new applicants, because the prospect of effective onboarding means there’s no need to worry about having a potentially bumpy start to any new job.


Each of the above arguments points toward one central benefit: Digital onboarding significantly reduces costs—directly and indirectly. Because even if, in contrast to all the other aspects mentioned, increased employee loyalty cannot be measured, it is also an essential economic factor. Did you know that, according to the National Business Institute in Texas, when a good employee resigns, it costs 150% of that employee’s annual salary? The higher your employee retention, the lower your costs resulting from resignations and new hires will be.

Magda Lehnert | Blogger

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Suitable eLearning formats for digital onboarding

Traditional online courses

A large part of onboarding can be covered by traditional online courses—provided your authoring tool has the appropriate features. If it does, you can create appealing, responsive online courses with texts, pictures, video messages, explanatory videos, digital tours, appropriate tests and quizzes, in the blink of an eye.

Digital flashcards

Enhancing online courses with simple features such as quizzes or digital flashcards, is another good option. They make learning not only easier, but also much more fun—a great way to give new employees a warm and friendly welcome.

Digital coaching

Integrating an interactive coach provides you with a scenario-based communication trainer that enables you to take a playful approach to training your new employees for specific corporate situations. This is particularly effective for new sales staff and account managers, for example, helping them to optimize their communication skills, get arguments across, and strengthening their empathy. 


Some topics are more easily grasped through listening than through reading, and are more effectively explained verbally than by being presented in writing. Your company philosophy, mission, vision, and values could be presented in a podcast, for example, and illustrated with practical examples. 

Video training

Like podcasts, videos are much more motivating for learners than texts; they also appeal both to auditory and to visual learners. In particular, they make it easier to present complex topics in ways that learners can understand.

Virtual reality

Just imagine: Your new employees are able to learn about your company and move freely around it in a virtual space. This allows them to go on their own journeys of discovery, getting to know your departments and employees, and the areas in which you are involved.


Expert tips

Pre-tests for even more effective digital onboarding

The word “individual” scares most people, because it sounds like a great deal of extra effort. But don’t worry. Smart eLearning and smart features in the tool enable you to make clever adjustments to meet individual learners’ needs. You can incorporate what are known as “pre-tests” into onboarding, for example, allowing new employees to check and evaluate their own knowledge level before starting the online course. This methodology is well-suited to software training, for example. Instead of simply starting the online course, new employees can answer a range of questions about the software in advance. Their results will determine which parts of the online course they then have to complete. Beginners thus get the information they actually need while more advanced learners start at an appropriate level, ensuring they are not bored by having to repeat beginner-level knowledge. This ensures that participants are neither overwhelmed nor underchallenged, and at the same time saves you valuable time.



Learning paths for usability

Starting in a new company always requires employees to absorb a lot of new knowledge from very different areas. New employees should never feel overwhelmed; equally, they need to find a good way to acquire the appropriate knowledge at the best time for them. Learning paths enable you to offer your new employees a perfectly prepared path that takes them through various stages. Learners follow the path, stopping at different stages, and acquiring the key knowledge for the precise point they are at. Afterwards, they continue on their way, one stage at a time—without feeling alone, and without being overwhelmed or underchallenged. New employees can view their progress within the learning process at all times, which in turn has a demonstrably positive effect on their motivation.


The bottom line

Onboarding has long had huge potential for long-term and successful employer–employee relationships—potential that has thus far been underestimated by many. This potential should not be overlooked, especially in times of skills shortages. Onboarding also has the potential to generate rapid cost savings and to make employees effective more quickly.  The benefits of digital onboarding are clear: It makes new employees feel welcome and generates emotional attachment to the company, whilst delivering savings on many valuable resources that would otherwise have to be repeatedly invested in the process. This is a win–win situation for both sides.



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Magda Lehnert | Blogger
Magda Lehnert

Image source: Prostock-studio/shutterstock.com

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