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How to scale your onboarding virtually

6 ways to create engaging onboarding for remote employees

People don’t join a company for the onboarding, but it could be why they leave. A Gallup study found that “only 12% of employees think their company does a good job of onboarding.”1 Onboarding done right can be a great asset, increasing new hire retention rates by 82% and improving productivity by over 70%.1

Remote working is here to stay. According to Gartner, it’s no longer just a “perk”: 60% of employees would prefer to continue to work remotely once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.2 With a significant increase in employees working from home, today’s challenge is: how do we effectively onboard employees virtually and retain them?

In this post, we’ll share learnings from our work with major brands to give you six ways to ensure your virtual onboarding is effective.
Learner using phone to dial into video conference displayed on laptop. The desk is disorganized and suggests the learner has a busy schedule.

1. Walk a mile in their shoes

Invest the resources, time, and energy in the “discovery phase” to get a complete picture of the onboarder, their set-up, and their challenges so they can get their footing for your brand, company culture, and business model. Explore their environment and build up your learner profile to help inform the training’s best formats and durations.

Two employees in a modern and vibrant office having a friendly conversation

2. Mix up social and self-driven learning

Learning is a natural, but preferably social, process. Mixing up group activities and self-driven tasks help learners connect with the content and apply it. Use a variety of formats for self-led learning to retain engagement and address multiple learning styles and preferences. Critically, assign a buddy to mentor the recruit and encourage frequent virtual meetups to answer questions and help contextualize the learning as they go.

3. Design with the destination in mind

Determining the best delivery mechanism upfront ensures the content is fit for purpose and optimized for the required formats. An online learning hub not only provides easy access for your employees; it’s a scalable way for managers to track their progress. Choose a Learning Management System that gives the learner a sense of progress along their learning journey and recognize their achievements at critical milestones.

4. Lean on peer learning for specifics

An up-to-date employee onboarding experience is good practice, but this can burden content management teams. Find a stable balance between “evergreen” content that’s reusable long term, and changeable details that need to be updated more regularly. Rely on peer expertise for on-the-job learning to pass on crucial information, local know-how, and latest updates without documenting these in the core content.

5. Allow space and time for application

Space and time are critical to the process of learning. Information is more easily absorbed when split into short bursts and repeated multiple times. Add in breaks between the same topic to actively recall the message, and stagger the onboarding over time to allow the learner to start on-the-job application quickly.

Video screenshot of a trainer delivering a refresher training course

6. Keep up the dialogue

The conversation shouldn’t stop after the onboarding, given that most learners need the repetition of key concepts to truly drive behavior change. Leverage your LMS notification functionality to alert users to updates and changes in the content in real-time. Try fast formats like podcasts for “refresher” training when content is updated.

It’s time to make your onboarding count.

With a continued focus on remote, distributed workforces, it’s worth reevaluating how effective your onboarding program is. By improving the learner experience during onboarding, companies can increase employee and partner retention, drive productivity, and leave a lasting first impression on the new hire.

Check out our whitepaper for more creative ideas on how to scale your onboarding experience and how we can help you implement them.

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