Of all the changes businesses have endured over the past few years, perhaps none have been as paradigm shifting as The Great Resignation. Employees are leaving organizations at record levels, sending their former employers scrambling to fill skills gap. And organizations have responded by rethinking talent strategies, from training to salary to benefits.

However, people aren’t necessarily leaving the workforce — they’re finding other jobs with the hope that their new organizations can deliver what their former organizations couldn’t. Particularly, benefits such as a better work-life balance, a company culture that’s more in line with their values and increased career satisfaction. These employees want to find success and tend to come in with a learning mindset, ready to absorb and apply everything you can teach them about your company and culture.

This eagerness presents a great opportunity for organizations and their training departments to introduce a values-based foundation during onboarding.

For many companies, taking this new direction with their training strategies may not come easily. These organizations are likely used to focusing on policies and procedures when employees really need — and want — skills and knowledge they can immediately apply to their jobs. Adaptive learning can help.

Here are three key steps to revitalizing your employee onboarding program with an approach to adaptive learning.

The Benefits of Developing Training for New Hires

Many organizations put a lot of effort into hiring talented employees; however, this same level of effort often isn’t carried into onboarding. It’s easy to fall back on “traditional” programs: webinars, classroom-style gatherings (either virtual or in person) or a whole bunch of materials to read and learn.

Sometimes, these classic approaches aren’t as impersonal as they initially appear. For example, onboarding in which new employees gather in a large conference room while the organization’s leaders and managers shuffle in and out and talk about a broad range of topics (e.g., benefits, personal time off (PTO) policies, employee safety, wellness programs, and so on) can provide a warm and informational welcome. This example also allows senior leaders to demonstrate a strong tone that ideally resonates with new hires.

However, there may be risks for your organization that require a more tailored training approach during onboarding. Many employees approach training with a “what’s in it for me?” (WIIFM) attitude, and if essential training on laws and regulations become too mired in legalese, they’ll tune out.

By articulating why key policies are important to new employees — and giving them a safe space to learn and grow — you can secure buy-in into organizational training goals and priorities from them long after onboarding ends. The following three steps will help you develop or revitalize a program that starts your employees’ journey with your company on the right track.

Step 1: Go Back to the Basics

Understanding what’s important to your training and onboarding goals is a good first step toward creating a program that new hires can embrace. To achieve this, you’ll need to get back to the basics.

Consider this scenario:

You want to train new hires on 25 policies you think they might need to know. The temptation might be to issue them 25 PDFs to read and acknowledge. Is this helpful or effective? No, and it might leave employees wondering how all these policies connect to their roles.

The moral of this story: The 25 policies may be relevant to everyone or just a few of the new hires, so assigning each PDF to each person might be overkill. In the quest to teach new hires everything, they’re exposed to so much that they often learn nothing. To counter this, do the legwork to extract the need-to-know details, which may be just a couple of bullet points from each policy. Then, point people in the direction of where to find those details and where to go for help.

Identifying these important details may take a little bit of time, but doing this can help establish, at worse, the minimum information you want new hires to retain and what kind of learning experience you want them to have.

Some other questions to ask yourself during this step include:

  • What points about the topic are particularly relevant? In other words, which aspects would employees expect to encounter the most in their day-to-day responsibilities?
  • What points about the topic are particularly important to test on?
  • If you have multiple layers at your organization, what type of tailored training will some employees need?

With adaptive training, the key things that employees need to know and act on are emphasized. And if workers aren’t understanding something, the training adjusts accordingly so that they get more exposure to the vital concepts.

Step 2: Identify Common Pitfalls

Most new employees find themselves drinking from the figurative fire hose for a while after they’re onboarded. Knowing where situations can go awry — especially in an employee’s early days and weeks — and which resources are available to help new hires is crucial for avoiding potential pitfalls.

Employees at your organization likely fill a range of roles and responsibilities, and they come to their jobs with a variety of backgrounds and experience. Avoid the “peanut butter spread” approach in which all employees are given the same training regardless of whether it applies to them or not.

Adaptive training can help here as well. The technology can be leveraged to build role-based journeys that tailor content to specific tasks and situations employees face in their day-to-day. After all, the more training resonates with employees —and the more it relates to them — the more likely the concepts will stick.

Besides pitfalls, think about what misconceptions employees have about different aspects of the onboarding topic. Identify questions that are frequently asked and situations that your organization has needed to address, then incorporate those concerns into training.

Step 3: Identify What You Want to Measure and Reinforce

An old bit of consulting wisdom says, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” This rings true for employee training. Knowing up front what you want to measure is important to gauging success and adjusting strategy later. Onboarding is merely the first step in an employee’s learning journey. This initial training provides a baseline of a new hire’s foundational knowledge that is key to not only their immediate success but also their next steps.

Training touchpoints should be continuous, and each subsequent learning event should be increasingly tailored to the learner. For example, consider a conflicts of interest training. A new employee may learn what a conflict is, why disclosing conflicts is important, and where to go for more assistance. A more seasoned employee likely knows all that, so their training may drill deeper into situational instances of potential misconduct.

In subsequent years after employees’ onboarding, artificial intelligence (AI) -fueled adaptive training technology can be leveraged to look back at prior performance and efficiently and intelligently deploy additional reinforcement that learners might need. The data is there — the right training platform can help you find and maximize it.

Ask yourself these questions when considering how to measure training:

  • Which concepts would be helpful to measure?
  • Do you want to measure sentiment as well as knowledge?
  • Which trends are you looking to uncover?
  • What year-over-year data would be useful to collect and analyze?

Onboarding That Makes an Impact

The success of an employee onboarding program carries higher stakes than perhaps ever. By delivering impactful, adaptive training — and measuring the results — you can contribute to the long-term success of new hires.

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