You don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression.

The Reality

It’s no secret that making a good first impression with an effective new hire orientation program is vital in engaging top talent and fast-tracking employee productivity. That said, onboarding sessions can be difficult to organize and expensive to deliver.

Employee conduct, compliance and company culture are just some of the topics L&D covers in an attempt to empower new recruits with the knowledge they need to be highly effective. For many participants, however, it can be a frustrating and counterproductive experience. Too often, new employees are pushed through content with trainers, who move through extensive slide decks to “cover” material so that they can check a box.

Statistics indicate that one-third of new hires quit their job after about six months. Much of this attrition can be ascribed to poor retention. However, organizations are increasingly tracing it back to the onboarding process.

Make no mistake: There is a war for talent, with many high-profile organizations struggling to fill key positions. Therefore, the impact of a poorly delivered onboarding curriculum cannot be underestimated. Good compensation and benefit packages can only go so far. People now want to work for organizations they trust that invest in high-quality, ongoing personal development.

The Solution

Thankfully, advances in technology have led training departments to rethink how to effectively deliver new hire orientation. Many have adopted a blended learning approach—a combination of traditional classroom-based instruction and online course delivery.

Although it could be argued that some material still lends itself to in-person delivery, the introduction of e-learning authoring tools, xAPI, augmented reality and virtual reality has rightly influenced the onboarding process.

There is still a misconception that only millennials want interactive, engaging and on-demand learning. This stereotype is dangerous. Each organization should develop an e-orientation strategy to serve the modern learner, not simply a particular demographic.

The modern learner is someone who is comfortable with a range of learning styles and technologies, regardless of their age. They have savvier expectations of training and ongoing development. Day after day of “push” learning is no longer good enough. Personalization is an expectation, as is the ability to “pull” on learning when it matters most.

Modern onboarding takes the best attributes from each delivery method and brings them together to create a customized solution. Delivering a relevant live Q+A session with the company CEO is fine—if it is combined with a three-minute microlearning module on company history, which negates the need for a half-day presentation.

L&D departments should evaluate their current orientation program and decide whether there are sufficient opportunities for new employees to experience the blend of training that satisfies the modern learner. Get it right, and the benefits are phenomenal:

  • Increased retention with more committed and engaged employees
  • Reduced face-to-face training time, which means more time spent on the job
  • Addressing training needs when they are required most—just in time—ensuring that skills gaps are reduced on demand
  • Better evaluation of new hires with live performance reviews using online tracking functionality
  • Reduced travel costs with fewer expenses and more remote access to training materials

The benefits are obvious, and the demand is as strong as ever. What’s causing the delay? It isn’t the cost attached to creating these innovative solutions; prices are more accessible than they ever have ever been. At the same time, it isn’t desire; 73 percent of corporations are updating their onboarding process. The challenge seems to be a skills gap that exists in many L&D departments. VR, AR, video production and SCORM development are specific skills, which many L&D teams don’t currently have and can’t develop—unless they invest in internal training.

Previously, a worthwhile onboarding process was a bonus, and salary and benefits were the real drivers for new employees. However, times have changed, and there is now an expectation for L&D to be at the heart of organization culture, beginning with an engaging and rewarding e-orientation experience.

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