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The Workforce Has Evolved, Why Hasn’t Your Onboarding Program?

Throughout the past decade, the workforce has evolved.

Startups are emerging with the rise in independent thinking and rejection of corporate life. Millennials sit in positions of authority, transforming older work values from work-life to life-work balance — and now 79 percent of people want to work from home at least part of the time.

Online and digital communication tools consume us; people spend an average of 23 hours per week emailing, texting, and on social media.

These changes impact how we learn, and while the workforce is slowly accommodating the desires of younger workers, the first step is often overlooked: onboarding. Onboarding and training new hires can be a cumbersome process with many stops, roadblocks, and balls dropped along the way. It is also the first important step of the relationship with the company, and a weak onboarding program can mean a weak and slow integration with your business.

Research by the Aberdeen Group found organizations with top onboarding practices retained 91 percent of employees, whereas other organizations with poor onboarding only retained 30 percent.

At the basic level, every successful onboarding program needs a training plan to ensure new hires stay on track and meet learning goals. Other keys to a successful training program include having a training buddy for guidance, frequent one-on-one meetings, and many more.

To meet the needs of an evolving workforce, onboarding programs need a serious upgrade. In fact, in an ASTD survey, 71 percent of HR professionals indicated they were in the process of updating their onboarding programs, with 86 percent considering their updates to be moderate to major.

These are the seven essential features your onboarding software must have to keep up with the workforce today:

1. Online Registration

To evolve into the 21st century, companies should have an online system to complete HR documents, benefits registration, and company forms. Additionally, companies can benefit from using online registration in training. The ability for new hires to enroll themselves in training sessions they need to learn takes an extra step out of management’s busy hands to ensure training moves forward promptly.

2. Live Learning Sessions

Learning and development opportunities were found to be one of five key drivers in attracting and retaining employees. In fact, 41 percent said they’d take a job somewhere else if it meant advancing their career, according to a Towers Watson study.

Not everything can be covered in a new hire’s initial training. New challenges come up on the job. Allowing new hires to request what they need to learn from team members empowers them to take their career and learning opportunities into their own hands.

The ability to assign and track learning experiences, such as live video learning sessions, also helps gauge where new hires are at in the training process. Instead of needing to keep up with all new hires’ next steps or ask them repeatedly if they’ve trained in a specific area, all completed learning sessions would be documented.

3. A Content Management System

A content management system stores key documents for employees to review. During a live training session, file sharing brings ease to visual demonstration and access to documents for new hires to refer back to later.

4. Instant Messaging for Immediate Help

Instant messaging is essential to combat any roadblocks in the communication process. To easily engage new hires, use an instant messaging tool to enable communications between newbies and experienced team members for immediate help to prevent slowdowns in the learning process.

5. A Tool to Pose Questions

Every second, Google processes more than 40,000 searches. That adds up to 3.5 billion per day. Search engines have spoiled us. We can find virtually any information we need by typing keywords into a search bar. The workforce’s new generation expects the same capabilities when it comes to learning in the workplace. Because of this, new hires really need a place where they can pose questions like an online Q&A or discussion forum tool.

6. App Integration

Integration with Google apps, like the calendar, can be helpful for a new hire when developing a plan for training. Also, a system with open API allows other programs to be used in tandem with a learning platform. The more all-in-one your onboarding system, the better.

7. A Feedback Mechanism

Every program needs room for ongoing development, onboarding not excluded. New hires should have a way to provide feedback so you can see what’s working and what isn’t.

As the workforce continues to evolve, more opportunities for innovation and efficiency will surface. The best way to notice them is through new hires who have direct experience with a program. Use a feedback mechanism such as a survey or rating system where new hires can rate their training experience and trainer.

Choosing an onboarding software with all or even one of these features will not only streamline and facilitate learning for new hires, but also alleviate much of the extra work that comes from onboarding.