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Partnering to Build Successful Onboarding Training Programs

This article was written by Brandon Hall Group Principle Analyst Matt Pittman. It was originally published on the Brandon Hall website on Sept. 26, 2023.

Onboarding new employees is a crucial process that sets the stage for an employee’s entire tenure at a company. A quality onboarding program ensures new hires are engaged, productive, and aligned with the company’s culture and values from day one. That’s why hiring the right training consultant to design and deliver onboarding training is so important.

Most organizations are struggling to mature in their approach to onboarding based on results from Brandon Hall Group’s research, with 56% of responding organizations placing themselves in the Lagging or Developing stage of onboarding maturity.

But we also know that onboarding sets the stage for new hire retention, engagement and alignment. The best onboarding programs also focus on moving employees toward performance success. Building a successful onboarding program faces a lot of challenges. Beyond the perennial budget and staffing shortages, the majority of respondents to our survey indicated that the leading barrier to effective onboarding is simple organizational distraction. Too many other competing priorities for the time and attention of the learning team. This is where the right partner, like Brandon Hall Group™ Preferred Provider® AllenComm, can help you accomplish your goals.

It starts, though, with understanding what effective onboarding training looks like.

Customization is Key

Every organization has a unique culture and ways of operating. A one-size-fits-all onboarding program simply won’t cut it. The right training consultant takes the time to thoroughly understand a company’s specific needs, challenges and target outcomes. They can then craft customized onboarding curriculums and programs that align to the organization’s goals, brand and ways of working. Consultants with expertise in instructional design are well-versed in developing engaging, interactive training content that brings company-specific onboarding to life.

Connecting with All Learners

People learn in different ways. Some absorb information best through visuals while others prefer to hear presentations and lectures. Some learners want hands-on activities while others appreciate individual study. An experienced training consultant knows how to utilize diverse instructional methods and formats to connect with all types of learners. Onboarding training may include compelling presentations, videos, hands-on demonstrations, small group discussions, reference guides, job aids and more. A blended learning approach helps ensure concepts and expectations stick.

Emphasis on Interactivity

The most effective onboarding training gets new employees engaged and interacting as they learn. Instead of lengthy PowerPoint presentations, look for consultants who emphasize interactive elements like role-playing, case studies and group problem-solving. Breaking into small groups for activities and discussions is a great way to quickly foster connections between new hires. Interactivity results in higher engagement and knowledge retention compared to passive learning formats. The right consultant also looks for ways trainees can apply concepts in real-time through skill practice, quizzes and other activities.

Leveraging Technology

From smartphones to LMS platforms, employees expect training to incorporate technology. The best consultants not only keep up with tools that employees use day to day but also know how to use them in training contexts. Onboarding programs may integrate brief video introductions from leaders, online learning modules new hires can reference later, chatbots that help them navigate resources, pulse surveys to capture feedback and more. Consultants should be well-versed in both instructional design and edtech applications.

Focus on Relevance 

For onboarding training to truly resonate, it must clearly connect to employees’ specific roles. Effective consultants avoid generic, overarching content and instead zero in on what each person needs to know to be productive and successful. Context gives concepts meaning. Tailoring examples, scenarios and role-plays to different functions and levels ensures immediate relevance. Breaking training down into manageable chunks that map to job requirements also helps reinforce relevance.

Setting Employees Up for Success

At the end of onboarding, new employees should feel equipped to dive into their day-to-day responsibilities. An outcomes-focused consultant builds this bridge from learning to doing by

and systems right away. Case studies and role-plays provide opportunities to apply key concepts. By the end of onboarding, employees have a solid foundation to build on through ongoing training, coaching and experience.

Reinforcement Post-Training

The initial onboarding training marks the beginning rather than the entirety of the learning process. People need ongoing reinforcement and coaching to translate knowledge into habits and skills. Consultants should provide recommendations for follow-up activities like check-ins with managers, quick reference guides, refreshers and mentoring programs. Building in reflection gives employees a chance to identify lingering questions and surface new training needs. The right consultant sees onboarding as a launch point rather than an endpoint.

Measuring Results

Any investment in training should deliver measurable business results. Experienced consultants build in metrics and evaluation methods upfront to track program impacts over time. Pre-and post-training surveys can indicate changes in employee preparedness, confidence and knowledge. Longer-term metrics like satisfaction, ramp-up time to productivity and retention rates help gauge effectiveness. Consultants can also design quick mastery checks at regular intervals to identify potential knowledge gaps early on. Strong measurement frameworks demonstrate the ROI of onboarding.

Evolving Programs Over Time

Onboarding needs to change as companies grow, adopt new technology and update processes. The right consultant becomes a long-term partner in continually making programs more efficient, engaging and effective. For instance, they may recommend condensing content modules or adding new simulations. Overhauling outdated videos and scenarios keeps training feeling fresh and relevant. Consultants may also identify opportunities to standardize and scale select onboarding elements across global offices. Successful partnerships evolve beyond a one-and-done engagement.

Expert Coaching for Leaders

Onboarding extends beyond the new hire’s formal training — it requires alignment at all levels. Consultants provide coaching and resources to help managers optimize the onboarding experience. Leaders learn how to conduct regular check-ins, provide ongoing coaching and support, and gather feedback. Equipping hiring managers and mentors is key to reinforcing concepts and skills. Consultants function as strategic advisors to keep leaders actively engaged in integrating and developing new talent.

Enhancing Knowledge Transfer

No matter how stellar an onboarding program may be, inevitably some knowledge and context lives in people’s heads rather than training materials. A consultant can incorporate ways to transfer that tacit knowledge to new hires through mentorships, job shadowing and continuous learning programs. Structured mentorships that pair new employees with seasoned team members are especially valuable. Consultants help facilitate knowledge sharing through collaborative tools and training for mentors.

A Culture of Learning

Ultimately, onboarding done right ushers employees into a culture of learning from day one. Consultants should model effective instructional approaches managers can adopt as they provide ongoing training and development. Interactive activities and engaging content set the stage for learning new skills and competencies on the job. Perhaps most importantly, great consultants instill that to continuously develop professionally, learning must be a lifelong endeavor rather than a one-time event. Investing in thoughtful onboarding training paves the way.

Choosing the right partner to help you build an effective onboarding program requires understanding what the right partner looks like. The right partner will bring:

  • Expertise in developing successful onboarding training
  • Ability to customize by industry, function, geography
  • Learning experience design expertise
  • Resources to develop engaging, effective content
  • Proven track record

What stands out for AllenComm is the overall flexibility of the solutions. Companies can rely on them as a one-stop shop for everything learning and rely on their expertise to create learning experiences, or get L&D staffing support . AllenComm’s learning technology solutions even allows custom content clients to help in the creation and continued maintenance of their content.

The importance of strategically designing and delivering onboarding training cannot be overstated. Hiring an experienced consultant ensures your program ticks all the boxes when welcoming new employees. A customized, engaging and effective onboarding sets employees — and the organization — up for long-term success. With so much on the line, bringing in subject matter experts is an investment that continues to pay dividends.