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The Best Model for your Employee Onboarding Solutions

When creating an employee onboarding program for new hires, often one of the greatest challenges is determining what information is the most relevant. But what do you do when you just have too much training content? To get new hires up to speed quickly, you will need a design strategy that specifies how and when learners tackle key skills and knowledge. Content mapping provides a format to organize the structure of your employee onboarding solutions and support new hire growth throughout the learning journey. This can look different depending on the industry, the employee, and the organization’s needs.

Effective Employee Onboarding Solution Models

The best practice for organizing employee onboarding content is to create distinct stages of learning, each with its own function. Generally, training can be broken down into distinct stages.

What do you do when you just have too much training content?


Pre-onboarding is the often underutilized stage that consists of everything that happens in the time between job acceptance and the first day in the office. While you may not be able to develop much knowledge during this phase, pre-onboarding is a great time to get some of the paperwork out of the way so your new hire can hit the ground running with their new team. This phase also provides an opportunity for you to introduce your new employee to their team and the company, and keep the excitement and momentum moving forward until their first day. One unique way to prep new hires for their first days in the office is to create a virtual walkthrough of their workplace.

Formal Onboarding

Formal onboarding is the training model upon which most organizations solely rely. Typically, it consists of a large eLearning or Instructor-led training series, and employees are expected to learn enough to be proficient in the roles. Proficiency at this point in a new hire’s learning is often just aspirational. Much of the knowledge acquired during this stage is forgotten by the time employees begin their daily responsiblities.

On-the-job Training

Arguably, the greater part of learning happens as new hires navigate challenges on-the-job. These learning experiences can be contrived through activities embedded within an employee’s workflow, in which case the most effective training modality is microlearning. On the other hand, on-the-job training can consist of challenges a new hire stumbles upon naturally. Providing a variety of learning opportunities will benefit your employees’ ability to understand the information no matter what their learning style may be.

Continuous Learning

While the onboarding process is vital to getting new hires up to speed, maintaining employee performance months or years after the initial training event requires ongoing support. Depending on the needs of your employees, subsequent training may suffice to maintain reinforce knowledge and skills. Alternatively, continuous professional development can drive employees to progress in their careers. In this case, mentors and coaches can be used to support employees navigating extended learning paths.

The greater part of learning happens as new hires navigate challenges on-the-job.

Best Practices in Designing Learning Pathways

The amount of training content devoted to each stage can be a tricky balancing act. Current best practices in training design suggest employee onboarding solutions should be broken down into a 70/20/10 model. This emphasizes OTJ, with the addition of social learning among peers, and it puts the least amount of time into formal learning. However, organizations are beginning to utilize pre-onboarding more frequently to offset longer formal training phases. For instance, 70:20:10 becomes 10:60:20:10.

Using pre-onboarding to get some of the cultural immersion and paperwork out of the way can prevent employees from feeling overwhelmed during the formal onboarding stage. Give new hires time to connect and network with peers and other key players inside your company.


Keep in mind that the 70/20/10 model is not an exact science. Like most learning strategies, their success will be dependant on the underlying organizational processes and structures. Your industry and employees will determine the appropriate ratios needed for your unique employee onboarding solution.