Managing change is hard. Whether the change is in organizational structure, personnel, benefits or systems, we’re familiar with the burden of overcoming the learning curve for the Next Great Thing.

Across the nation, businesses are fighting to keep great talent and working hard to bring in better talent than they’ve had before. They are looking for strategic growth opportunities, and the companies that thrive are engaging and retaining their talent pool through effective onboarding and training — and an overall improvement in the employee experience.

Out With the Old

Drinking from a firehose is a great way to drown. Many times, human resources (HR) teams want to engage new hires in an onboarding session or class right away, often on the first day. They work to get the paperwork filled out, get the documents signed and ensure that the new employees can find their desk.

That’s a great start — but with it often comes a deluge of information, links, emails, attachments and more that can overwhelm a new employee. “Onboarding is not a time occurrence that happens within the span of a few weeks.” Kristen McDonald, manager of talent acquisition at SageNet, says. “Onboarding is months long, requiring managers to engage with their associates even after they are fully functioning in their role.”

Think back to your first day at your current job. What emotions were you feeling? What life changes were happening? What did you then feel or think during the first few days and weeks on the job?

There are long lists of websites, usernames, passwords, products, services, systems, customers and vendors that new employees must learn — and that’s just the tip of the “company history” iceberg. How can we expect a new employee to combat the forgetting curve in this type of environment?

Overloading new hires with information is an easy and common occurrence, but it doesn’t have to be. As McDonald says, “Avoid disengaging your new hire and have them question, ‘Did I make the right move?’ Making a job change can already be overwhelming, and forcing new hires to onboard in days or weeks is not how you retain the top talent you have.” This is where your expertise as a learning leader comes into play.

In With the New

Timely and relevant information delivery is key. You can delay an onboarding class session by a day or two, you can provide guidebooks to hiring managers on how they can help and you can offer suggestions of timelines for following up on key processes. The paperwork still needs to be signed, but take time to remember that your new hire isn’t just a number or a head to count. This human is the newest in a group of very important resources. He or she is an investor in your company’s future.

These mistakes can occur with any type of training, not just onboarding. For example, consider system training. Sometimes, we create training that tells not one but many ways to complete the same process, along with several different ways to recover from errors and failures. The better approach is to focus on the critical path: What one thing do your learners need in order to succeed? Later, you can share other methods and approaches, and on the job, learners will figure out how to resolve issues at the moment the information is relevant to them.

By using the same tips and tricks that you use in the classroom, virtual training and consulting with your other business partners, stakeholders or customers, you can help the HR team and hiring manager make a big impact in the employee experience from the start.

How to Get Started

As a learning leader, you may or may not already be under the HR umbrella in your company’s organizational chart. However, regardless of what that chart says, you play a key role in helping the HR team retain your new hires. Whether they are in the office with the rest of the team or working remotely, you have the opportunity to help engage new talent through effective and concise onboarding and initial training that leads to increased retention and satisfaction.

Become a strategic partner with your HR team and hiring managers. Share your resources and your expertise, and help them to deliver more effective, enjoyable and memorable onboarding.

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