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How to Increase Speed to Competency with Blended Learning

During the employee onboarding process, time counts—so how can you make the most of everyone’s time while onboarding employees? The goal is to improve speed to competency to ensure employees are indispensable members of the company as quickly as possible.

Our suggestion: blended learning.

Blended Learning in Employee Onboarding

Organizations that had a standardized onboarding process had 57% new hire retention.

The stakes are high for getting your employee onboarding right, and company profitability rely on employees who can propel their company’s objectives forward. The Aberdeen Group found that organizations that had a standardized onboarding process had 57% new hire retention, compared to 38% retention in companies that did not have a standardized onboarding process [1]. In the same study, the Aberdeen Group also found that new hire engagement was at 36% in standardized onboarding, compared to 17% in non-standardized onboarding. Increasingly, eLearning is the way companies train employees and this training provides even more engagement during the employee’s onboarding experience.

A blended learning strategy might use web-based training (WBT) in combination with Instructor-Led training (ILT) to provide information. Rather than waiting for the orientation, employees can begin their learning journey before their first day at the office. After employees have a foundation of knowledge, subsequent ILT becomes more effective. It also provides an opportunity to connect socially and engage with others in a learning environment.

Blended Learning Strategy

Before beginning any blended learning strategy, you want to clearly identify organizational goals and desired learner transformations. You can then start to look for tools that will help you effectively reach those goals. Here are 3 common examples of supplementary training components:

1. Action Planner

An action planner or learner journal is a great way to connect the skills and knowledge gained through different training modalities. Provide space for learners to reflect on their newly developed skills and apply them to their daily activities in a structured way.

2. Interactive Video

Interactive video can help employees practice critical soft skills without the need for peers to be present. Consider creating branching scenarios for conversational skills or modeling a compliance violation and the appropriate responses.

3. Knowledge Checks

Employee onboarding is not a one-time event. Ideally, it should be more of a process that builds upon itself. Employee onboarding should include knowledge checks throughout the process. A 30/60/90 day plan will break down the knowledge and skills that an employee should be competent at each stage of the plan.

Measuring Competency

How well does your training translate into desired behaviors?

Through data tracking on digital training technology platforms, an employer can get insight into performance on critical training tasks. This becomes crucial for follow-up training and continuous development. Performance data should be your primary source of information as you plan for the next employee development initiative. However, depending on the level of realism and relevance in your course design, there may be a disconnect between measuring learning and measuring performance. How well does your training translate into desired behaviors? Through digital training modalities and ILT, train for situations that are as close to their work responsibilities as is possible.

Avoiding Pitfalls

Despite the benefits, there are still a few notable pitfalls and challenges to the blended learning approach. For instance, using the wrong technology or modality for a training goal will hamper learning, as well as waste time and money.

A task analysis can help you to map the necessary skills and knowledge base to your learning strategy. If you can use relevant KPIs as the foundation, then that should offer more reassurance that you’re training for the right behaviors—and that you can measure them.

You should realistically assess what technology and processes already exist within your company before investing money and time into a technology your company may not be able to support. If your company does not have a current LMS or enterprise content hosting strategy, then you will want to address this issue first before implementing anything new.


Learning is a fluid and circular process—we learn, practice, implement, rinse, and repeat. By strategically combining different training modalities, your learning solutions (and of course your employees) can not only become more effective but do so more quickly. Speak with the training consultants at AllenComm to learn how to increase speed to competency for your organization.


[1] The Aberdeen Group Research