How to Use Blended Learning for Onboarding

Losing new recruits within the first year or two is expensive. Yet many businesses are not doing what’s required to welcome and motivate newcomers and make them feel confident about having joined the right company. If your intent is long term retention of talent, you want to make them feel valued at the outset. For this to happen, a lot depends on your onboarding strategy. An effective onboarding plan aligns the needs and aspirations of new hires with your company’s business goals.

From a company’s perspective, what appears most important is to quickly train recruits for their job, so as to make them productive in the shortest possible time. It’s a given that people join a company with career growth being their top priority; they naturally want to perform, contribute to furthering organizational goals and be recognized for their contribution.

However, for a newcomer what is immediately important is to get to know her coworkers and connect with them, fit into the culture and develop a sense of belonging. She must understand how things work, where to seek assistance and what she’s expected to do and why. In order to perform in line with company objectives, she must first feel comfortable and confident about her role.

Blended learning, which refers to a learning method that combines instructor-led, classroom teaching with digital training accessible online, can improve outboarding outcomes. Flexibility and empowerment are key benefits of this approach. It enables individuals to learn according to their needs and gives them a certain degree of control over what, when and where to learn.

In-person coaching imparts a human touch whereas online training provides new hires with the flexibility to consume and digest relevant information at their own pace. According to the Towards Maturity Industry Benchmark Report, 83% of new hires prefer learning when it suits them and 44% among them learn on mobile.

Some points to consider when implementing a blended learning program:

A key challenge during onboarding is to achieve the right balance between employee needs and business objectives. A 2014 study by Towards Maturity found that many highly successful companies owe part of their success in engaging and retaining talent to well-designed blended learning solutions.

Discover your unique mix

Determining the right blend of employee and company priorities is critical to effective onboarding. Your onboarding strategy needs to emphasize both competence and empathy. The right combination differs from company to company and depends on the number of recruits, budget and time.

Spending time up-front with key stakeholders in your organization and developing an understanding of current development need requirements is critical. Needs can be classified in three categories;  required for current job,  development for areas of career growth and development for personal growth.  This would differ for different people across the organization.

Make it an ongoing process

Effective onboarding is not just about bringing an employee to a desired level of competence nor is it a one-time process lasting a few days.  You need to engage workers and nurture them in order to optimize their ability to deliver. So, it’s not just about skills, but about encouraging overall growth.

Individual needs and abilities vary, so a totally generic plan won’t deliver. Instead, formulate a plan based on each recruit’s most pressing needs, ability to learn and training that is actually relevant.

Create a development plan that lasts a few months at least and assign periodic goals for the recruit to meet. You want to ensure that each goal links to the end result that you want your learner to achieve.

Personalize training

You can address individual needs and make onboarding a success only if you personalize for each recruit. Leaving them to deal with a pile of irrelevant material will likely cause them to wonder where they’re heading and eventually lose interest. Efficiency and consideration for new hires are both well served when the emphasis is on individual interests and aptitude as well as helping them to understand the business and learn what’s necessary for their role.

Organize manager and peer-group support

A new entrant has a lot to take in and will inevitably have many questions. Involving trainers, managers and colleagues in the onboarding process is essential in helping her to understand things in context and put her knowledge to work.

Connecting with co-workers and building strong relationships helps in getting work done, thereby contributing to operational efficiency and profitability.

Begin the process before recruits join

Connecting with recruits before they join and giving them a peek into what they’ll be a part of is a good way to ease apprehension and make them feel welcome. Give them access to FAQs for new employees and introduce them to one or more people they’ll be working with.

By enabling beginners to learn what they need at their own pace, blended learning reinforces onboarding, helping companies to retain talent over a longer period and quickly equip recruits for their role, thereby boosting productivity and strengthening the organization.

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