Digital onboarding with eLearning
Save on costs, induct employees successfully, increase job satisfaction
Onboarding is a time-consuming process: All new employees need to get to know your 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 happy in their work. What if you only had to design your onboarding process once, no matter how many new employees you welcomed in the future?
eLearning allows you to 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%, their team was not even 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 are committed to it going forwards. 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 look after me?”
One drawback that probably also leads to inadequate onboarding is that analog onboarding is time-consuming and resource-intensive. 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 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 be successful in a company, employees have to develop an understanding of it. Your company’s guiding principles, mission, vision, corporate culture, corporate language, and values are important and need to be embedded in the minds of new employees from the outset. An online course on this topic is useful for new employees, but it can also act as a reference source or refresher for existing employees on specific issues; it allows all employees to access this information on a regular basis.
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. Once again, this concerns not only new employees, but every employee in the company—everyone needs to be up to date on products and services.
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. These kinds of 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 principle is that internal company knowledge should be accessible to everyone and can be retrieved by all employees when they need it. In future, reliable answers to 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 to approve this?” will be available in the form of rapidly searchable units of digital knowledge.
From one day to the next, your new employees will be working with 50 (or 30 or even 100) new colleagues. And as we all know, getting faces, names, and positions right takes time. However, new employees need to be able to find out who they have just met, what a particular colleague looks like, or whom they should approach on a given issue. And of course, they might also want to learn a little more about the people they will now be dealing with. In the era of remote working in particular, putting faces to names is a good way to make some initial social contact. Digital flashcards can be a fun and relaxed way to learn names, faces, and positions, for example. Personal details, such as how everyone takes their coffee, can 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 allows you to include additional information. In offices, this could be about the printer, the copier room, the washroom facilities, or the location of fire extinguishers. In large companies, virtual tours can go far beyond that—especially when it comes to manufacturing. Do office staff in the commercial sector ever enter 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.
New employees have the right specialist knowledge. But 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. They need to learn about the software and its application gradually, in appropriate stages, and to be given the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the software, trying out what they have just learned. For example, a final task for new employees in training 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 does not aim to replace face-to-face induction completely. 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.
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 person. And before you know it, the same information is being communicated twice or even three times. 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 does not even arise.
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 priorities on their to-do lists. When it comes to onboarding, people are especially 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 only needs to be created once and can then be reused as often as required. In addition, the digital content acts as a reference guide for anyone who has forgotten something.
Structured digital coaching not only minimizes redundant communication, it also ensures that new employees get absolutely all the information they need—high quality, verifiable, and consistent.
The more quickly employees are inducted into the company, the happier they are, and the more efficient induction 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 how committed they will be in the future. Comprehensive digital onboarding allows you to take advantage of this “hot phase”, demonstrating how well you look after your employees.
When you take an attentive approach to your employees, word gets around; and of course this will attract new applicants. Because if you know that your employer has effective onboarding, you don’t have to worry about potentially getting off to a bumpy start with your new job.
Each of the above arguments points toward one central benefit: Digital onboarding significantly reduces costs—both directly and indirectly. Because even if, in contrast to all the other factors mentioned, increased employee loyalty cannot be measured, it is also an essential economic component. 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.
Suitable eLearning formats for digital onboarding
Traditional online courses
Onboarding can mostly 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.
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.
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 via a podcast, for example, and illustrated with practical examples.
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.
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.
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 you don’t need to 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 method 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 need 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 about very different areas. New employees should never feel overwhelmed; they need to find a way to acquire the appropriate knowledge at the best time for them. Learning paths enable you to provide your new employees with 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 through 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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