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Tech-Enabled Transformation: Tips for Better Employee Onboarding

Employee onboarding training is inherent to successful business operations. Whether your learning experience is showing a high school graduate how to cut a sandwich and keep their fingers or teaching a database administrator how to tighten IT security, if it doesn’t happen, something will fail. Unfortunately, our learners aren’t spending much time training. ATD’s 2019 Global Trends in Talent Development Report found that the average US employee is only devoting about 28 hours to training. This seems disproportionate, considering the rate of technology and process adoptions. Moreover, this number presents a stark contrast to the 2018 Training Industry report which found this number to be closer to 48 hours.

Training consumption is going to continue to be a challenge and technology and processes change, but how do we ensure our training for digital transformation cuts through the noise?

Knowledge Transfer & Motivation

Get employees on the same page.

The information transfer during employee onboarding is important to all types of new hires. From the most experienced, highly trained professionals to the youngest greenhorn, you have to communicate expectations and get employees on the same page. Otherwise, you’ve let them loose on a path to failure.

After the initial knowledge transfer, however, comes knowledge retention. At least, that’s how it’s supposed to work. The Levels of Processing theory of memory details the importance of what’s called knowledge construction. Basically, the theory says that knowledge retention is a product of critical thinking and analysis. People need to connect new information to well-engrained ideas and processes to make the information stick. Then, they can more effectively apply any knowledge to novel problems. As you design new training, consider how the content fits with previous courses and build upon that material.

You can build knowledge by applying the mechanisms of memory to your training design strategy; however, your employees need confidence in their skills to turn knowledge into competence. One study by Beth Ulrich et al. tracked employee retention as a product of factors like empowerment and confidence. This 10-year longitudinal health care study found that increasing a focus on empowerment and building confidence within their program reduced preventable adverse events, reimbursements and liability claims. Moreover, one employee sample saw a 30% reduction in turnover over the course of 3 years.

Transformative Employee Onboarding

Digital transformation starts with the successful weaving of the technology around us into our business processes. Smartphones, voice-activated cloud-based personal assistants, even online grocery shopping are ubiquitous in our world. But, why disrupt your onboarding strategy?

The answer is pretty simple.

Employee onboarding has the same goal as any digital transformation initiative: improve performance. As the ability of technology to enable business processes improves, theoretically, so should employee performance. But, we can’t forget the human component. Most companies have realized the need to enable employee performance for digital transformation to succeed, but there isn’t an agreement on the right methods. Yet, we may still find insight from a survey of manufacturing companies describes several employee enablement technologies:

Employee onboarding has the same goal as any digital transformation initiative: improve performance.

  • Data-driven Performance insights
  • Real-time analytics and performance KPI dashboards
  • Automated alerts to inform required actions
  • Data visualization
  • Real-time data projections

Typically, learning and development for digital transformation is traditionally tied to training technology like eLearning and mobile learning. However, these employee enablement strategies can have a huge impact on your onboarding experience and performance support.

Buy-in is Critical

Four out of five employees will forget what they learned in a classroom within 30 days. No organization can afford a 20% information retention rate. So, for digital transformation initiatives to be a success, we’re going to need to work on these numbers.

Employee buy-in is a significant part of what makes any onboarding training successful. Take advantage of the way your new employees are already trained to learn. Learning on their schedule and pace with mobile platforms lets them integrate the training experience with their schedule and work responsibilities. Interactive courses reflect how learners already act online by giving feedback, reinforcement, and guidance. Instead of expecting people to change their learning capability, adapt your knowledge base to their tools.

The Future

Technology-enabled process adoption doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon. So, we have to develop strategies to ensure our employees are supported through frequent transitions. With employee onboarding built around best practices in educational psychology — knowledge retention, motivation, and buy-in — you can make your process adoption a success.

Ron Zamir (CEO) and Anna Sargysan (CLO) of AllenComm will be joining the Brandon Hall Group podcast as guests to discuss digital transformation and its implications for employee training and development. Tune in to grab some insights from these L&D leaders.