New hires often have mixed feelings about their first week. While they may be excited, they’ll also be nervous about whether the reality of the job will match their expectations. They might feel stressed about meeting their team and frustrated about their sudden loss of autonomy as they get to grips with their new role.
An effective onboarding course can make employees feel they belong at your organization, integrate them into your company culture, and help them feel empowered in their new positions.
Our article explores how to create an onboarding course that sets your people up for success. We cover:
- The four onboarding phases
- What to include in your onboarding program
- Best practices for creating an onboarding course
⚖️ Strike the right balance for your new hires
Leapsome’s Onboarding features let you deliver training content gradually, so employees feel calm and confident in the learning process.
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Why is an onboarding course important?
Onboarding courses help you facilitate a positive experience for new hires during their first months on the job. More importantly, they lay a strong foundation for the rest of their time with the company. Here are the main benefits you can expect from an effective onboarding program:
- Improved performance — Onboarding training helps new team members adapt their existing skill set to your organization’s practices so they can do their best work.
- Reduced risk of burnout — Creating a well-paced course helps avoid overloading new team members by deciding what you can realistically expect them to learn within each stage of the onboarding process.
- Smoother integration into company culture — Explaining, reinforcing, and embodying your values in the onboarding process makes it easier for new hires to learn about and connect with your culture.
- High engagement levels — Team members who understand and feel confident about their roles will find it easier to engage with their work in a meaningful way. But that’s provided your employee engagement model takes all their other needs into account.
- Lower turnover — Gallup found staff who had an exceptional onboarding experience were 2.6x more likely to be happy with their jobs and, therefore, less likely to leave.
- A more supportive, inclusive work environment — As our very own Amelia Kroner explains below, effective onboarding significantly contributes to a more positive workplace culture.
“Creating a good onboarding process is the first step to creating an inclusive organization. The sooner you can effectively communicate how things work at your company, the sooner people will understand your ways of working and be able to contribute more confidently.
Making people feel included will encourage them to share their opinions. And as we all know, the more diverse your input is, the more creative and effective your company’s output will be. So, effective onboarding programs not only make people feel included, but they’re also good for business.”
— Amelia Kroner, Strategic Projects Manager and Learning & Enablement Specialist at Leapsome
4 phases of onboarding
There are four main phases of the employee onboarding process. As you create your course, these rough stages can provide an initial structure for your curriculum.
Preboarding is the period between the new hire accepting a job offer and their official start date. Before employees begin formal orientation and training, they’ll already start familiarizing themselves with your company. So, include this phase in your course planning strategy to get your onboarding process off to a great start.
One way new team members learn about your organization is through preliminary paperwork like contracts and employee handbooks. Documents like these provide fine details about what the role and work environment entail that you may not have had time to cover during the interview process.
Another way new hires learn is through welcome letters and emails. These messages contain all the information they need ahead of their first day, like directions to the company and door codes, or login details and meeting links for remote work arrangements.
How you handle these exchanges gives employees their first insights into your organizational culture. For example, minimalist documents with a plain font imply your company prefers clear, straightforward communications. And a casual, friendly email tone suggests you prioritize your staff’s comfort over formalities.
The onboarding phase refers to the initial days and weeks after you hire someone new. It consists of staff orientation and initial introductions to your company culture. Your priority during this phase should be getting employees acquainted with their new workplace, introducing them to their peers, and ensuring they have essential, practical information like who to direct questions to or where to find the canteen. As a result, they’ll be able to navigate their day-to-day responsibilities effectively and feel more confident in their new position.
The length of the onboarding phase varies depending on:
- The size and complexity of your business
- The individual role
- The new hire’s relevant previous experience
For example, you may wish to offer recent graduates extra onboarding time. If this is their first job, they may need more time to get acquainted with their responsibilities or require additional training.
As the name suggests, the training phase is when you teach new hires the key skills and abilities they need to carry out their roles effectively. This may involve a combination of:
- Formal training sessions
- Workshops, focus groups, and seminars
- Shadowing experienced employees
- Independent study (usually online learning)
To set new team members up for success, they should receive training regardless of their knowledge level, experience, or skills. All businesses are different, and training enables employees to adapt their existing skill sets to their new positions.
Training is also an excellent opportunity to set expectations for recent hires. For instance, most roles involve a degree of collaboration, so you can show new employees how they’ll interact with their colleagues and other departments. You might tell new members of the marketing team that they’ll receive insights from the sales and customer service departments each week.
The transition phase is when new staff becomes fully integrated into their teams and assumes the regular duties of their role. During this time, employees may have learned everything required to carry out their position’s day-to-day tasks but still need more time to practice and hone their skills. Gallup estimates it takes around 12 months for recent hires to reach their full potential.
As they become familiar with colleagues in related roles and departments, new team members also build a rapport with their coworkers and develop interpersonal relationships. Plus, they use the transition phase to gather insights into their colleagues’ work and align their workflow with internal norms.
👟 Get new employees up to speed
Leapsome lets you create individualized courses that take your people through all onboarding phases.
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What to address in onboarding courses
Now you have a deeper understanding of the onboarding stages, let’s explore what to include in your onboarding program. Course content varies between organizations, but the following items are important no matter where you work.
While you discuss job requirements with candidates during the hiring process, there’s only so much detail you can provide in an interview. So, onboarding programs are a chance to clarify and elaborate on role expectations.
You might include details like:
- The typical schedule
- Who the new employee reports to
- Which team members they’ll likely work alongside
- How much time you allocate to certain tasks
And you should go beyond discussing their current responsibilities. New hires are 3.5x more likely to consider their onboarding process ‘exceptional’ when the organization has clear employee development opportunities. So, schedule time after the initial onboarding phase has passed to discuss how their role could expand and change over time.
The fastest way to integrate new team members into your organizational culture is to teach them about it. Your employee onboarding program could include:
- Your diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) policies
- Your mission statement
- A list of internal best practices, like how to give feedback or handle a dispute
- Your core values, such as respect, trust, and honesty
- Some of your fun rituals and traditions
During the employee onboarding experience, staff will also learn about your culture indirectly. They’ll gain a sense of your company’s values and attitudes from their managers, new colleagues, and the course materials. So, ensure your onboarding process truly reflects what working for your organization will be like. For instance, don’t say one of your values is ‘radical candor’ but leave no opportunities for exchanging feedback.
Resources & tools
Besides providing new team members with all the information they need, supply them with the right equipment. That could include a desk space, office furniture, and a computer. Some industries provide staff with special tools like protective clothing, business phones, and vehicles. And when companies onboard remote employees, they may give them access to certain websites, apps, and software.
Once you’ve supplied your people with the essential tools, ensure they know where to find them and how to use them properly.
Similarly, it’s important to show new employees how to access internal resources. These might relate to their job (like client lists or product information) or their well-being (like mental health support).
New staff needs to learn how they’ll collaborate with their team members and other related departments. That’s why it’s helpful to include information about different employees and their roles in your onboarding program.
But that’s not as important as the social aspect of onboarding. Gallup found work friends are essential for a positive work environment as they provide their colleagues with emotional support. That’s a great reason to help new hires socialize by including team building and social events within your onboarding curriculum.
Course creation tips
We’ve covered the phases of your onboarding program and what to include in your course. All that’s left is learning how to organize that information in a way that works best for your new employees. So, here are our top tips on creating your onboarding program.
- Set goals for the first day, week, month, and beyond — Goal-setting clarifies expectations for employees and helps them avoid stressful situations where they don’t know what they’re supposed to be doing.
- Have company leaders arrange 1:1 meetings — Leadership can welcome new hires to the company, reinforce your values, and make them feel supported.
- Involve all departments — As every role comes with a degree of interdepartmental collaboration, you should have other teams contribute to your onboarding progress.
- Chunk information — Learning is more manageable when you organize training sessions into short, engaging bursts instead of exhausting, day-long sessions.
- Use a variety of teaching tools and methods — To appeal to different learning styles and maintain staff interest, mix up your training session methods. You can use different multimedia, types of training, and even trainers to keep your onboarding program fresh.
- Let employees refer to old learning content — New hires are only human, so they’re unlikely to remember more than four new items of information at once. Ensure they can access all their old learning materials by using something like the resource library that’s part of Leapsome’s Onboarding features.
- Relate training to real-life scenarios — While theoretical knowledge is useful, it’s no substitute for on-the-job learning. So, find practical training opportunities with meaningful outcomes where possible.
- Build in regular opportunities for feedback — Your staff’s opinions on your onboarding program can help you finetune the process and uncover weak spots. Consider whether to run an onboarding survey or use a platform with built-in feedback forms like Leapsome.
- Measure progress — Quizzes and tests show whether employees have learned everything you expected in a set time. If participants aren’t getting the desired results with your onboarding program, it’s a sign you need to review your course and make adjustments.
- Automate the onboarding process — Invest in a people-enablement platform like Leapsome that lets you automatically send new team members onboarding course materials. That way, you can save time and keep the experience consistent.
Build personalized onboarding flows with Leapsome
The secret to successful employee onboarding is providing people with the guidance they need in a consistent, enjoyable way. But doing so can be challenging, as there’s so much information to get through.
Leapsome’s Onboarding features can help you create a standout onboarding experience. You can build individualized courses for each new hire at your company and schedule their training on a timeline, so they receive new course content at the optimal time. Allocate quizzes to test employee knowledge and prompt them for feedback to see whether the onboarding process meets their needs. All this ensures you’ll onboard your people successfully and at a manageable pace.
🚀 Take your people through the onboarding phase and beyond
Leapsome combines engagement, learning, and development for a holistic approach to people enablement.
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