If you keep your people trained, they feel their career is consistently growing, which helps with staff retention. What instructional assistance can you give at the varying stages of your staff’s employment cycle?

Tips to Enhance the Employee Onboarding Process

Depending on who you ask—or what Google result you clicked through—there are 3 to 9 stages of employment. Practically speaking, a potential employee shows interest in the position, or maybe your organization seeks them out. Then you interview, recruit, and hire them.

They’ll need orientation and development training to become better at their jobs. Eventually, they’ll leave, but you want to keep them on your payroll as long as possible. You’ve invested in them, and you’d like to reap the benefits. Continuous L&D can help with retention goals, but what exactly should you do beyond onboarding training?

1. Host Monthly Events

Today’s generation of workers is more independent and self-aware. “Old-school” workers were more inclined to follow instructions, but the modern employee has questions and wants to hear your reasoning. They have more options, so if you don’t keep them happy, they’ll leave. But even though your staff has issues they’d love to raise, they don’t always know who to ask.

Start a tradition of “ask-me-anything” sessions where someone in management agrees to respond to staff queries. It can be a “town hall” session in the office boardroom. Or it can be a synchronized teleconferencing session. Staffers can ask extemporaneous questions, but they can also send them in ahead of time. There should be a moderator, but they should focus on timekeeping, not censorship.

2. Launch a Reference Online Training Library

Your organization has a distinct idea of what they’d like employees to learn. But on the ground, your staff may have a different set of needs. For example, the boss prefers everyone to memorize the corporate mission and vision. But employees know, especially during their first week, they were more worried about pronouncing the boss’s name right or deciphering how to address them. (First name? Last name? Title? Nickname? Vague mumbling with no eye contact?)

So, while the higher-ups control the online training curriculum, create a crowd-sourced JIT library populated by staff members. They’re better placed to recognize and provide emergency onboarding training aids. And they’re best positioned to put them in a format that’s accessible to new hires. Just make sure your LMS or eLearning authoring tool is simple enough to be used by non-IT staffers and that it’s accessible on mobile, both for training participants and content developers.

3. Craft Individual Career Journeys

Almost every interviewer asks, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” Take it out of the abstract. As part of your new hires’ onboarding, show them potential career paths by giving the job title and qualifications. It’s an excellent tool to create and disseminate digitally because both the employees and their managers can update it and it can be consistently upgraded over the years.

When they first begin their new hire training, it will have an organizational chart but with job descriptions rather than names. So rather than thinking “I want this person’s job,” the employee can see what positions speak to them. They can also see what qualifications are required to get there. Include a list of online courses they should take and the abilities they should acquire if they want that position. And each time they advance—or change their minds and switch paths—it will be recorded on the employee training career chart.

4. Long-Term Gamification

Launch a gamification strategy that extends far beyond the onboarding training process. During new hire training, employees are introduced to badges, points, and/or leaderboards. Give them an explanation of what’s involved, how they can progress, and the real-world benefits. Throughout the months and years that they work within your organization, they’ll accumulate points that fuel their motivation. This also gives them the opportunity to see how far they’ve come since the beginning. You can even include an interactive map or game board to give them a visual reminder of which goals they’ve achieved, as well as the goals that still lie ahead.

5. Create Positions as Needed

It’s difficult for employees in senior positions to move around the corporate space. Unless they get poached—or unless their boss leaves—there’s not much room for growth. This happens within organizations too; staffers may find themselves being VPs for life. It’s what makes them listless, and they might leave your company just for a higher position. To give employees a sense of upward movement at every stage of their careers, diversify.

 Follow up on the online training path they chose when they first started. And if you need to, create new L&D-based job titles for them. Make them meaningful, genuine, and customized. For example, an accounts intern who loves photography could become the company training archivist. They continue with their finance duties, but the new role allows them to apply their passion to enrich the online training experience for others. You can also invite experienced employees to take on the role of mentors and/or peer-based coaches.  

Want to learn more about onboarding? Read everything you need to know about onboarding here.

All of us need to feel we’re moving forward in life. If we stagnate, we feel unfulfilled, and our sense of underachievement may put us back on the job market. So as an organization, you want to push past onboarding training and provide consistent support at all stages of the job. Examples:

  • Monthly sessions where everyone (newbies and office vets) can ask questions and have them answered honestly
  • A reference online training library populated by employees
  • Career paths created on day 1 and meaningfully updated throughout their time at your firm.
  • And if there’s no room for upward movement, design new positions tailored for specific high-impact training participants, to keep them happy

Christopher Pappas - Founder of eLearning Industry(1) (1)Author: Christopher Pappas (The Founder of eLearning Industry’s Network, which is the largest online community of professionals involved in the eLearning field. Christopher holds an MBA and an M.Ed. (Learning Design) from BGSU.