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3 Onboarding Training Best Practices

3 Onboarding Training Best Practices that get Results

At AllenComm, it’s our privilege to assist great businesses and brands in the pursuit of quality custom corporate training, including onboarding training: training that instructs and acclimates new hires.

In our many years of experience, we’ve learned that there are lots of best practices for creating onboarding training. Here are three recommendations that are must-haves in any onboarding situation.

Employee Onboarding Should Match the Culture of the Organization

Culture is key in every organization. It’s “defined by the values that lead a workplace to choose certain policies or encourage certain behaviors.” If your workplace values honesty, sharing ideas across departments, and working from home, then that’s part of your culture. Culture is also shaped by how your company represents itself internally and externally. For example, even at the corporate offices of Harley-Davidson, employees wear jeans and company apparel, something that cements their casual and adventurous image to each other and to their professional contacts.

Onboarding should be true to culture. If your organization has a flat reporting structure and little red tape, don’t make new hires jump through approval hoop after approval hoop to complete their onboarding. If your workplace frowns on lunch outside the office, don’t arrange a series of first-week lunchtime outings just to make new hires feel welcome. If your office is a little stodgy, don’t give new hires training courses featuring an animated dog. You’re not doing new hires any favors when you pull a cultural bait-and-switch, even if it’s done with good intentions.

The onboarding training we made for Domino’s is a great example of this. Domino’s culture is customer-oriented and forward-looking. The course design reflects this; it has a trendy feel and an easy user experience. The content within the course also shows the culture by constantly referencing the prized Domino’s mission to deliver handcrafted masterpieces.

Onboarding Training Should be Interesting Enough to Get the Job Done

Onboarding doesn’t necessarily need to be fun—some organizations don’t even value fun. Plus, it’s difficult to create fun at work, possibly because employees feel that workplace fun is 1) mandated and therefore not fun and 2) work-related and therefore not fun. While bottling fun remains elusive, that doesn’t mean that you can’t make your training interesting enough to engage new hires.

You’ll have a good idea of what interests your new hires based on your culture. Interests could include rewards and recognition, a sense of greater purpose, or something else that can be worked into the training. The goal is to give the new hires what they need to stay engaged in the training and in their new role. If new hires think your onboarding is the Worst Thing Ever and feel lackluster about their new roles afterward, then something needs to be fixed.

In Domino’s culture, using gamification to teach behavior-based activities is a natural inclusion in the onboarding training. In one course, new hires are given recipe and topping “challenges” to complete. The training even includes an online game to let them put their skills in practice, and they can play as many times as they like to improve their scores. Voluntarily taking a piece of training again? Now that’s interest!

Employee Onboarding  Should Offer Feedback and Assistance

New hires can and should be given feedback on how they’re doing, whether it’s given by a coworker or dispensed by an online training program during training exercises. Keep in mind that feedback and assistance can be so much more than rote commentary! Ideally, new hires would be able to gain a deeper understanding of not only how to perform their job correctly but why it’s done the way it is. It’s a bonus if they’re also instructed on why they shouldn’t vary from the way they’re being trained to perform.

What’s the best way to convey that kind of information to new hires? At the very least, the new hires need a go-to person who has the time to help with questions or concerns. It’s even better when new hires have a dedicated buddy, or even better, a mentor. In any case, new hires need to be guided and kept appraised of their progress. They should not be left alone to flounder, nor should they be surprised with a shocking performance review at the end of the onboarding.

Domino’s pizza-topping onboarding course has feedback programmed into the gamified activities. However, it also requires a trainer to walk through exercises with new hires. In one exercise, the trainer gives feedback as the new hire weighs handfuls of ingredients (by saying “Bam!” when they’re correct and “Nope!” when they’re not). Because of the feedback, the new hire knows what they’re doing well and what they need to improve.

More Onboarding Training Tips

Organization culture, new hire interest, and feedback and assistance influence the success of onboarding training. They definitely helped our Domino’s onboarding courses win awards! However, those aren’t the only things AllenComm considers when it comes to onboarding. Check out our onboarding ebook to learn more about our onboarding best practices.