In 2020, thanks to the pandemic, online onboarding became a necessity. Now, as companies slowly reconsider in-office operations, many of the virtual tools we implemented for onboarding new hires remain as relevant and useful as ever.
Online onboarding is faster and more scalable for employers. Likewise, it’s a more flexible option for workers. Recent findings in Hired.com’s State of Remote Work report show 97% of respondents are open to remote onboarding, so long as they have the right tools and strong support at their disposal. This should send a clear go-ahead to companies looking to develop an online program without fear of employee pushback or disinterest.
Here, we’ll break down five key reasons why online onboarding is here to stay—and (spoiler alert) how Collaborative Learning could be the key to unlocking an effective onboarding program. Or, if you’re looking for a holistic deep-dive into all things onboarding, you can download our complete onboarding playbook, below.
Modern workers want personalized learning experiences. 74% of employees surveyed in a LinkedIn Learning report stated they want the freedom to learn during their spare time, not just in pre-planned chunks. Online onboarding opens this opportunity by providing access to training at any time that’s best for the employee, whether that’s before the workday begins, after hours, or during moments of downtime.
When onboarding is online, learners can work together with coaches to determine a learning program that works best for their goals and schedule. At 360Learning, we onboard employees using a unique learning Path that tells them which courses are most relevant for their new role. They can determine the order they take the courses (with some high-level deadlines which serve as guardrails, so they don't fall behind).
Once your new hires are moving through their onboarding process, they work with their coach to determine additional learning they need in order to reach their initial goals, perform their duties, and make progress toward longer career development goals.
Related: Everything You Need to Know to Build a Scalable Employee Onboarding Process
When onboarding is online, it becomes much easier to track how new hires are doing—and nudge them when necessary. Tactics like using a platform for tracking learning through analytics or monitoring performance helps HR and L&D managers stay on top of employee progress.
It’s easy to lose some of that objective tracking and recording when people have in-person interaction, making it nearly impossible to accurately track a new hire’s progress. By contrast, maintaining a centralized platform for new hires helps you monitor their progress and assess how they move through the onboarding program.
Use checklists loaded with onboarding tasks in order to keep new hires focused on what’s important. Here’s an example from Joei Chan, 360Learning’s Director of Brand & Content:
What makes this checklist stand out is how it breaks down important tasks in easy-to-follow, bite-sized pieces—plus, it's visible and tracked by Joei's coach to boost accountability.If Joei starts falling behind, her onboarding coach acts as a safety net to ensure she has the time and resources she needs to catch back up before the delay becomes a problem—which would be much more challenging without a shared online progress tracker, especially for larger teams. The ups and downs (and everything in between) of Joei's onboarding process was chronicled in our award-winning docuseries, Onboarding Joei.
Collaborative Learning is a methodology that encourages employees to share their knowledge and experience to both teach and learn from one another. This kind of information sharing goes hand-in-hand with the online onboarding experience by creating a peer-driven space where all levels of staff can contribute, swap tips, and step in to answer questions. It democratizes the workplace by encouraging employees to declare their own needs and seek help across an entire team, not just their manager.
One main benefit of Collaborative Learning in an online space is that it removes the potential for isolation associated with traditional distance elearning. By connecting employees, companies gain a highly skilled, engaged, and loyal workforce.
At 360Learning, our platform encourages collaboration with interactive elements and a discussion forum. In this space, learners and experts alike can contribute their knowledge, posting and answering questions. Then relevant feedback can be tagged with reaction emojis and upvotes, so the most pertinent information stays front and center.
Related: How Spendesk Overhauled Their Onboarding by Turning Subject-Matter Experts Into Content Creators
According to a study from McKinsey, employees waste about 19% of their workday searching for information in order to perform their job.
The onboarding process is a crucial time for new hires to learn about a company’s policies and protocols. Oftentimes, companies just beginning to embrace digital tools in the onboarding process will keep information scattered across different channels, with each department creating a program independently. Unifying your onboarding process under one platform can consolidate the learning experience and ensure employees have access to the information they need to succeed.
A centralized portal—be it a wiki, a knowledge base, or a learning management system —can hold whatever amount of information is useful for your business. The best platforms encourage staff at all levels to contribute information, too. Some useful materials for a business wiki might include company handbooks, organization charts, workplace policies, and other materials all staff would need easy access to.
In traditional in-person onboarding, the average cost to train an employee is $1,286. Even more concerning, studies have shown that many HR teams who don’t make use of digital tools to track new hire progress spend about three hours or more per employee collecting and processing information. These are significant figures considering the low cost and minimal effort it takes to invest in online tools.
Gone are the days when staff would need to dedicate hours away from their desks to guide new hires through an onboarding process. Online onboarding provides the opportunity to include self-directed features, letting staff save on time—and time saved is money saved.
360Learning worked with machine intelligence company Appen to overhaul their training programs company-wide. With their onboarding process, in particular, we identified the key pain points our digital tools could address, including constantly adapting training programs and a lengthy ramp-up period. After implementing 360Learning’s collaborative platform, we saw new hire onboarding become more efficient in the following ways:
The first step to transforming your onboarding program into a digital-first experience is to implement a learning platform that facilitates Collaborative Learning. Platforms like 360Learning were designed with a democratized workplace in mind, offering a cost-effective and easy solution for developing courses for staff at all levels.
With new hires, in particular, this kind of learning platform lets them learn fast and become superstar employees right out of the gate. If you’ve made it this far, you likely already know that a good onboarding program is crucial to set your new hires on the path to success. Implementing virtual tools, like a learning platform, is one more step to encourage a highly collaborative, engaged, and people-centric workplace.