At some point, we’ve all encountered passive onboarding programs that include hours of watching recorded trainings, virtual presentations and demonstrations. This approach isn’t only exhausting, it’s not the most effective way to learn new knowledge or skills.

Instead, consider creating an onboarding program that empowers new hires to be active learners in their own onboarding experience by developing a self-paced training curriculum. By allowing the new employee to be in the driver’s seat of a strategically designed onboarding program, your organization can promote a culture of trust and autonomy, maximize the value of instructor-led training and provide opportunities to authentically engage with training materials and resources.

Promote A Culture Of Trust And Autonomy

Job candidates are always hustling to make a memorable first impression on their prospective employers, and for the top candidate who triumphantly earns and accepts your organization’s job offer, it’s time to return the sentiment. A strategically designed onboarding program can set the tone for your organization’s culture by putting its values into practice.

As the old saying goes, treat others the way you want to be treated. If your organization expects employees to take initiative and problem solve, how will your onboarding program give new employees the opportunity to take initiative and problem solve? If your organization is hoping to build a culture of trust among its leaders and employees, how will your onboarding program rely on the integrity and decision making capabilities of a new employee? Don’t wait until employees are several months into the job to give them opportunities to build confidence. Think about what your organization values in an employee, then structure your onboarding program in a way that puts those values into action.

Maximize The Value Of Instructor-Led Training

Many organizations rely on their current employees and subject matter experts (SMEs) to conduct onboarding training as a great way to help new hires develop connections and a sense of community. However, if an organization is small or short-staffed, training may feel like a monumental burden on top of an employee’s day-to-day job responsibilities. So how does an organization ensure a new hire is getting the training they need without burying their current employees in additional work?

The answer is simple but requires a bit of prep work and some basic instructional design principles. Think of a flipped classroom approach — first, the learner is provided with new topics and information to consume and explore independently. Then, following this independent learning experience, the learner is paired with an instructor for the opportunity to clarify their understanding, apply their knowledge and access more complex concepts.

When an onboarding program is designed like a flipped classroom, the new hire is able to self-pace and cater to their own learning preferences while the trainer can spend valuable face-to-face time addressing specific questions and helping the new hire work through more complex job-specific scenarios.

Authentically Engage With Training Materials and Resources

There’s no way around it — new hires are going to be hit with a tsunami of new information. It is, after all, the inevitable burden of being new. But just receiving onboarding material doesn’t mean the new hire is set up for success. If you’ve ever sat through a lecture, frantically scribbling notes hoping to catch every word, only to fail the test, then you know that listening to new information doesn’t always equate learning or recalling new information.

New hires are going to listen to, read and interact with a lot of content — so how can you design your onboarding program to feel less like a series of lectures and more like a workshop, providing the new hire with all the materials and resources needed to build a toolbox to use throughout their time in the organization?

In many cases, the key to being a successful employee isn’t always knowing the answer — it’s knowing where to find the answer. If this is true for your organization, ensure all self-paced onboarding materials and resources can be easily updated, saved and accessed, so that when the new hire is confronted with a relevant job scenario, they’re able to confidently find it and trust that the information is correct.

Moving Toward An Employee-Centered Workplace

With organizations moving toward remote or hybrid employment, it’s essential to have an agile onboarding program that engages and trusts new employees, empowering them to become active learners in their own onboarding experience regardless of their physical location or proximity to co-workers.

If a job offer is an expression of confidence in a candidate’s potential, an onboarding program is an expression of trust in that potential. Instead of relegating new hires to the backseat of their onboarding experience, maybe it’s time to pull over, put them in front of the wheel and hand over the map.