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Kerry Pascall Transforming onboarding with digital learning

Under pressure to get new starters job-ready as soon as possible, organisations are seeking out alternative ways to smooth the process of onboarding—reducing induction and onboarding times.

We’ve all started a new job and been immediately bombarded with too much information. It can be quite overwhelming—and in the excitement and confusion of starting a new job, you often don’t end up taking much of it in. Important information can be lost in the noise.

Your onboarding programme is a new starters’ first impression of your organisation. It’s important to sort out what your need-to-know information is, and the best way to get that message across.

Transforming Onboarding With Digital Learning Pub 20 6 17

L&D is an essential partner in delivering an onboarding programme to convert new starters into engaged, enthused members of your organisation! After all, what is onboarding but a programme of learning? Granted, you don’t normally get a badge or a certificate at the end, and a lot of workplaces neglect to follow up on it—but that doesn’t mean it has to be this way, and in fact, it can be so much better.

We recommend that a good onboarding programme should incorporate a range of tasks and activities to engage new folk with the information, and help them feel welcomed and included. It’s also a great opportunity to promote your organisational culture and values at an early stage.

Using a blended learning approach and carefully-considered design will help engage learners throughout the process and keep them hooked. However, the onboarding blend should be structured so that new starters are given a clear journey and don’t spend time wondering what they are supposed to look at first.

In the past, we have worked with clients who really needed to make the few first days of their onboarding programme more time-and cost-efficient. Using a blended approach can take the work out of disseminating some of the generic but ‘need-to-know’ information to your people before they even begin on Day 1.

We’ve put together a tasklist of key ways to transform your onboarding using digital learning deliver methods.


Review and identify

First of all, current onboarding content should be reviewed and refreshed to see what could be delivered pre-Day 1.

It’s important to consider what is sensitive or confidential information, but given that topics such as company background information, health and safety and so on are generally available online, these are usually a good option to have as pre-induction resources.

We recently helped a large global airline to innovate their induction programme. The first step in doing this was to review everything as it currently stood. Each topic was scrutinised carefully to identify areas which could be redesigned pre-start day, and to locate information that could be delivered digitally as homework. It has been a great success, resulting in engaged new starters and a greatly reduced lead-in time to job readiness.


Structure and design

Secondly, the learning designer needs to work on the structure of the programme to ensure it flows, but does not appear too linear.

This can be done by converting content into microlearning modules using a variety of different components. This will make the programme fresh, engaging and will equip the new starter with knowledge and understanding.


Build and delivery

Thirdly, the learning components will need to be developed (see below) and then loaded to a platform that will allow access to external users. While this sounds obvious, we frequently come across organisations who have great LMSs, but will only allow internal users to access them; or that access relies on a unique ID/employee number which usually isn’t set up until they are at their desk, doing their 'first day' admin.

Having a platform that smoothly offers allows limited external access (so that only the relevant, secure content can be viewed) is essential to this approach. We use our own vLearning platform to deliver onboarding programmes to new recruits at Bray Leino Learning!


We would recommend that the programme components incorporate the following:

•    Forms, profiles, general paperwork – save time getting the essential paperwork done in advance if forms can be completed online. Remember to assure your new starters that their details will be securely transmitted!

•    Background company information, teams, processes – make it fun by using digital tools instead of just PDFs or slides; for example, turn company information into a quiz with feedback, or your processes into an animated infographic.

•    Meet the manager/team – getting the key people in the room at the right time can be challenging! Instead, film them (using an iPhone is more than adequate) or record a podcast.

•    Core values and brand – again, use videos of colleagues, perhaps in the form of talking heads, or vox pops, or have them answering questions like ‘What’s it like to work here?’. This will bring the culture to life. Why not develop a game based on company values? If you make it interactive, the learning will stick.

•    Motivate, test, engage – think about ways to engage and at the same time ensure the new starter is retaining information.  What about quizzes, earning badges or points, or starting an online discussion forum/Slack channel as a meet-and-greet area?


Delivering your onboarding programme using digital methods will not only reduce time spent face to face, but will give you insights into your new hire before they even start.

Building that early relationship will ensure your new team members will feel valued, get a good idea of company values and be job-ready quickly.


Our free induction checklist will help you to:

  • Engage with new team members as early as possible
  • Create a memorable induction plan to ease your new starters into their new role
  • Improve recruitment and on-boarding processes within your organisation

Visit our blog to download the checklist and see how you shape up when it comes to engaging new team members even before their first day.


Download Now




Kerry Pascall, Head of Digital Learning, Bray Leino Learning

In my series of blogs you can expect some tips on implementing eLearning, what to consider when commissioning eLearning, design tips, software and authoring pro’s and con’s, and general advice on everything eLearning!

Copyright © 2017 Bray Leino Learning

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