Effective Strategies for Developing Onboarding Training

By February 25, 2019E-learning

Most of us remember the first day at work with the “fear of the unknown”. This fear may hinder our on-the-job performance. And this is where the onboarding training comes into play. It is an opportunity to comfort new employees and help them develop a sense of acquaintance with the organization. Effective onboarding plays a critical role, both for the employees and the employer. The new employees would want to receive adequate support and training before they start their journey and are expected to fulfill their responsibilities. Whereas, the employer would want to bring the new employees up to speed as quickly as possible and enhance their potential.

This calls for a great onboarding experience which is efficient and ensures a smooth transition of new hires into the organization.

Traditional onboarding sessions are mainly focused on familiarizing employees with legal procedures and policies and giving them an overview of their responsibilities. However, this is just a small part of the big picture. The primary intention of an onboarding program should be to help employees have a better understanding of organizational goals and how to align themselves to achieve those goals.

Here are a few strategies for developing effective onboarding trainings

Distributed Learning

Typically, onboarding sessions last for a few weeks after the employee joins the organization. However, this might be an information overload right at the beginning, making it difficult for the employees to transition into their new role.

Therefore, it is recommended to split the training program in such a way that it is spread across a few months to ensure better retention and engagement at the workplace.

Blended Learning

The most appropriate approach to make onboarding effective is to blend online learning with classroom sessions. The online learning can be designed to focus on the organization’s strategy, vision, and provide relevant information to get the employee involved. This can act as a precursor to the face-to-face discussions to make the process more personal and employee-centric. During these sessions, the employees can share their first impressions, get more clarity about their role, and determine immediate next steps. Implementing a buddy system ensures new employees receive the encouragement they need to transform into their new role sooner. It not only promotes knowledge sharing but also develops a sense of trust and comfort, which is vital in the first nerve-wracking weeks of a new job. Altogether, it fastens the transition period that leads to a more positive and efficient experience for new employees.


Though onboarding training targets adult learners, it should not force the employees to grasp all the information at one go. This might hamper knowledge retention and moreover, the onboarding experience.

To make it more relevant and impactful, a microlearning approach is recommended that ensures focused learning. It breaks down complex information into small pieces, making it easy for the audience to digest it. The distinct onboarding training topics could range from organizational goals to department-specific trainings. For example, Procedures and Policies, Organizational Values, Roles and Responsibilities, Career Advancement Prospects, etc. This way, the employees do not miss important information and can focus on each topic with the same spirit.


The best way to encourage the new employees is with a video snippet from the senior leadership welcoming the fresh recruits and talking about what makes the organization a great place to work. This will not only inspire them but also make them feel valued and connected with the upper management.

Along with the leadership video, there could also be messages from peers, talking about the organizational values and best practices. Coming directly from the colleagues will help the new hires approach their peers with comfort and boost their overall morale.

Experiential Learning

New employees tend to learn best when they are presented with a realistic situation. This approach helps increase their engagement and gives them the opportunity to use information in a practical setting.

In an onboarding training, a wide range of virtual reality applications such as simulations, branching scenarios, etc. put new employees in a real-life situation, where they can learn organization’s key aspects, processes and core values within a virtual scenario. As new hires get an opportunity to explore their new position and get a realistic taste of the work environment, they feel more confident to attempt challenges and problem-based situations once they are on the job.

Social Learning

Social learning encourages collaboration among the participants by enabling interchange of knowledge, experiences, viewpoints, and perspective. This leads to better learning and improved self-affirmation.

Modern eLearning authoring tools allow learners to chat, share images, clarify queries with other learners while they are accessing the online training.

For an efficient onboarding, social learning will play an important role in facilitating the new hires collaborate with their peers and clarify/share their learning.


Typically, new hires are burdened with a lot of dos and don’ts that might be overwhelming for some. To make it interesting and get the best out of them, it is essential to increase employee participation by gamifying the learning experience. Micro gamification activities provide new hires an opportunity to undertake tasks/challenges that they will most likely face while on the job. This will certainly increase their excitement about their new role.

Gamified solutions could be timer-based activities, branching decision-making exercises, progressive unlocking of levels, etc. To add more fun and engage the audience on a deeper level, these can be supported with gamified elements such as reward points, bonuses, lifelines, leaderboard, and many more.

In a nutshell,
Onboarding is the first impression your organization will make on a new hire. So, you have to get it right! An effective onboarding experience should include learning solutions that will:

  • Enhance employee engagement
  • Make learning relevant and personal
  • Provide digestible chunks distributed over time
  • Focus on behaviors and performance, not just learning!

Altogether, an effective onboarding leads to higher employee satisfaction, improved job performance, and most importantly greater organizational commitment.