Business

How to Train New Employees Effectively: The Only Onboarding Checklist You’ll Ever Need

Androniki Koumadoraki
8 min
How to Train New Employees Fast and Effectively

A recent survey shows that 76% of employees are much happier at work when they can find what they need without asking questions.

No doubt, asking too many questions is awkward because you know you’re cutting into someone’s work. Besides, even legitimate questions tend to sound “stupid” to the person who asks them.

But this is how many new employees feel during their first days at work. And if they don’t have a proper onboarding experience, these questions can linger for weeks and hinder them from being productive; not to mention, it will take them much longer to feel part of the team.

Many companies over-rely on HR tools and offer a basic orientation that involves mostly paperwork, and then leave it to managers and co-workers to train new hires with no specific plan in mind.

Make sure you don’t make that mistake. Create a step-by-step onboarding process and invest in an employee training platform, so you can streamline paperwork with new employee onboarding. Offer a comprehensive learning experience that suits your company’s needs whether you operate on-site, hybrid, or remotely.

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Read on as we discuss the benefits of employee onboarding and share with you a new hire onboarding checklist.

First, let’s answer one common question:

What is the Difference Between Employee Training and Onboarding?

Employee onboarding falls under the umbrella of employee training & development, so one doesn’t exclude the other. The key difference is that employee training focuses only on helping employees develop technical and soft skills.

Onboarding has a broader scope. While onboarding includes skills training, its goal is to help new hires acclimate and feel comfortable in their new workplace. Therefore, it is more of a holistic experience that includes orientation, skills training, bonding activities, and introduction to the company culture.

What Are the Benefits of Training New Employees?

Training new employees should be part of every employer’s agenda. If you’re unclear about the point of having a formal onboarding process in place, let us help you with that:

Reduce time to productivity

According to a report from Gallup, it typically takes approximately 12 months for a new employee to reach full productivity in their recently assumed role. Skills training, an indispensable part of onboarding, helps employees become productive faster than they would by randomly asking questions here and there or through job shadowing and note-taking. This translates to increased job satisfaction and, of course, better results in terms of the quality and quantity of the work produced.

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Improve employee engagement

New employee onboarding is not about job training only. During onboarding, new hires get a first taste of the company culture as they meet and interact with other team members and better understand the company goals and mission. This helps them acclimate faster, feel happier in the workplace, and be more excited about their new job!

Improve employee retention

At the time of writing this post, 39% of employees who have been with a company for less than 6 months plan to leave within the next 12 months. Need we say more? Several surveys link poor onboarding to higher employee turnover – and you already know how disruptive, time-consuming, and costly it is to replace employees.

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A formal, steady-paced onboarding process gives new employees the time and space to learn, acclimate, and flourish in your company.

New Hire Onboarding Checklist: 12 Items That Shouldn’t Miss

This is not a simple JTBD employee onboarding checklist. We dive deep into the process, starting with some behind-the-scenes tasks you must perform.

1

Document your SOPs

This might not be a cutting-edge piece of advice, but it’s an essential one. It’s important to have everything documented, even if you’re a small business of 10 employees. Each job position might be accompanied by a thorough documentation of the job description, daily tasks, and connection to other departments. Of course, this is a dynamic process as a role and a company evolves, so make sure to update the relevant documents regularly.

Create an employee handbook that lays out company policies, benefits, and SOPs and has a detailed company chart and directory to help new employees familiarize themselves with the basics. The employee handbook doesn’t have to be an actual document, of course. You can store all this information on your HR tool. Or – even better – on your employee training platform, so you can have documentation and training in one tool.

2

Create an onboarding template

Before anything else, create a template or checklist mapping out all the key tasks and activities that make up your new hire onboarding process. This will help you ensure that nothing falls through the cracks and will give you a better sense of whether the process will roll out smoothly or if it’s packed with too many activities, which is often the case. Plus, a checklist should save you considerable time and effort the next time a new employee joins, as you’ll have everything already documented.

3

Start before day one

A new hire training program starts before day one. Get new employees excited and lessen their stress by being transparent about the days ahead. Knowing what’s coming will relieve the sense of the unknown (that few people feel comfortable with).

Make sure to share:

4

Include a welcome kit

Start building employee engagement on day one with a welcome kit. Include small gifts, like a customized cup with the company branding and a snack pack, and also more practical but fun information, like popular restaurants and bars around the area.
A welcome kit also includes office supplies or tech gear the employee needs. And if you haven’t already shared that information before, now is also a good chance to share the employee handbook.

5

Keep all training materials in one place

Create a centralized knowledge base with FAQs, SOPs, company policies, and training material. This may as well be a Learning Management System – especially if you’re working with a remote or hybrid workforce and plan to offer online training.

An LMS comes with multiple benefits as it supports different training delivery methods and types of content, giving you unprecedented flexibility in offering employee onboarding and all training beyond that:

Do you want to see an LMS for employee onboarding in action? Try LearnWorlds, the lightweight LMS that will help you streamline your onboarding process for good. Claim your 30-day free trial now!

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6

Assign a mentor

Coaching and mentoring are as personalized as an onboarding experience can be. Pamper your newcomers by pairing them with a mentor who will introduce them to the company mission, discuss their aspirations & goals, and address specific training needs that may come up. Besides, mentorship is a fulfilling task for the mentor as well, who gets to pass on their knowledge and expertise to the new employee.

7

Follow a blended learning approach

An effective training plan should combine hands-on, on-site learning with e-learning for a more flexible training experience. Conduct training sessions in real-time as needed, where employees can learn by doing and discuss anything they don’t understand.

But make sure to also offer online training materials that will allow employees to learn at their own pace and also serve as “cheatsheets” that substitute the dreaded asking around we mentioned at the beginning.

Besides, each employee has a different learning style. Wherever possible, offer multiple learning sources and training methods and let them choose how they want to train in their new role. For some, job shadowing might work much better than reading step-by-step guides or watching tutorials.

Offering a bit of everything will keep everyone satisfied. Whatever the case, include quizzes and self-assessments, so new hires can do their own knowledge checks and self-critique as they learn.

8

Introduce employees to the company culture

New employees are eager to become part of the team as much as they are eager to do their job duties. For this reason, it’s important to share with the new employees the values and mission and also to help them understand how decisions are made and how the day-to-day atmosphere is.

Typically, an introduction to the company culture takes place by arranging meetings with other teams within the first couple of weeks. Some more exciting and warm ways to receive new hires are a welcome lunch or drinks (even virtual!) and team-building activities, like games or wellness activities.

9

Give them their first project early on

Once the new employee has undergone some basic training, they should get started on their first task. Help them feel useful by enabling them to contribute – it’s key to start building engagement and a sense of fulfillment. Of course, it should be made clear to them that they will be fully supported through the execution of the project.

10

Plan for a long game

A new job is anxiety-inducing for most; and it’s not just “the first week” that’s hard. New team members might feel intimated not only by the responsibilities of their new job but also by their new work environment.

While it’s essential that they become productive fast – for their own benefit, first and foremost – you shouldn’t plan a tight training schedule that will overwhelm the new employee. If anything else, new employees will be trained largely by other employees who will have to accommodate their business-as-usual tasks while providing training, and that can quickly become problematic for the whole team.

When it comes to employee onboarding, slow and steady wins the race. The best employee training programs are spread over a 3-month period and include a check-in 6 months after the start date.

11

Start a feedback loop

You must be attentive to employee needs during their onboarding. Check in with them regularly, and don’t wait until the end of the official onboarding program to collect their feedback. See how the process is unfolding for them. Do things move too slow or too fast? Is the process overwhelming? Do they need a change of pace? What skills do they feel the most insecure about and need more work?

Feedback shouldn’t be one-sided. New employees are more insecure than your seasoned workforce about how they’re doing, so you should take extra care to give them constructive feedback as much as they give back to you.

At the end of the process, discuss again to see how satisfied they’ve been with the program and whether they need to revisit a part of the training. When they’re a few more months in, discuss further L&D opportunities that are suitable for their career goals.

12

Evaluate the onboarding experience

Have some key metrics in place against which you’ll measure the effectiveness of the employee onboarding, like time to onboard, time to productivity, and employee engagement. Revisit these metrics every three months during the first year.

Apart from pulling out metrics and cross-checking business KPIs, launch surveys and schedule one-to-one interviews to request employee feedback specifically on their onboarding experience.

Onboarding for the Win

Onboarding training should be part of your training strategy. Losing (good) employees, then hiring and training new ones is an expensive sport you don’t want to play. Get on the right foot with new hires from day one to increase engagement and retention. Offer them plenty of training resources and, if it’s within your company’s abilities, assign them a mentor to walk them through the first rough months.

A Learning Management System is the most comprehensive employee onboarding solution. Stop juggling between different tools and platforms, which will only add to the confusion. Give LearnWorlds a try and see how one single platform can accommodate all your documentation, self-paced training resources and activities, live classes, and mentorship sessions.

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Further reading you might find interesting:

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Androniki Koumadoraki
Androniki Koumadoraki

Androniki is a Content Writer at LearnWorlds sharing Instructional Design and marketing tips. With solid experience in B2B writing and technical translation, she is passionate about learning and spreading knowledge. She is also an aspiring yogi, a book nerd, and a talented transponster.

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