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5 onboarding challenges that didn’t exist 10 years ago


The changing face of the modern workplace has introduced a whole new set of challenges for L&D, not least in the area of onboarding.

And, because of today’s highly competitive and rapidly evolving environment, onboarding is more important than ever.  It helps build the agile, skilled workforce organisations need and it sets people on their way to a successful career within a company. If the onboarding is right.

Getting it right is no easy task, however, and many of the onboarding challenges cut across sectors, industries and borders. Here are five challenges causing some of the biggest onboarding headaches.

1. Gig economy

In Deloitte’s 2018 Global Human Capital Trends survey, only 42% of firms who took part said their organisations were “primarily” staffed by salaried workers. The gig economy of freelance and contract staff has created a dynamic workforce ecosystem which calls for a rethink of onboarding practices. It makes no sense to onboard only staffers and not contingent workers, who are just as likely to be dealing directly with clients or customers or be working on multiple projects where capability is crucial. Organisations should extend their onboarding to all workers as part of a dynamic, integrated workforce strategy. One answer is custom-made digital learning that’s easily accessible for everyone and can be personalised for relevance.

2. Deskless workers

Just like contingent workers, deskless workers are likely to be frontline people doing work that is critical for the business. They’re on the go, on their feet, in a vehicle, dealing with customers every day. New joiners with deskless jobs don’t have access to the resources and support that’s available to office staff. They might not even have an email address.  They would benefit from online preboarding and onboarding sent to their devices, that reflects their own working environment. 

3. Global consistency

In a global economy, customers and clients expect a consistent experience from a brand, irrespective of where they are in the world. The only way to achieve this is for organisations to deliver consistent training to all their people, everywhere. A digital onboarding programme, combining human expertise and technology, delivers consistent learning in key areas such as company culture and values, while also meeting localisation challenges. 

4. Talent pressures

Employee experience (EX) has become the new focus as companies battle it out to secure talent. With ongoing international skills shortages in certain fields, an inspiring onboarding experience can make all the difference in talent acquisition and retention. According to Bersin, 4% of new joiners quit after a disastrous first day, but recruits are almost 60% more likely to stay for three years-plus if they’ve had structured onboarding. Today, traditional onboarding just doesn’t cut it; the bar must be set much higher. Experiential onboarding that uses learning technologies such as games, microlearning and immersive virtual reality (VR) will win the recruitment battle. Making onboarding continuous as part of employee development then takes the learning a stage further, helping to retain talent.

5. Multi-generational workforce

With increasing life expectancies, organisations face training a workforce that spans several decades. This is both a challenge and an opportunity – Deloitte calls it ‘The Longevity Dividend’. Businesses that can design a workforce strategy that keeps on re-skilling for multi-stage careers will benefit as they will be able to tap into talent of all ages. But what are the implications for onboarding programmes, which in the past might only have been designed to meet the needs of younger people? A more tailored and personalised onboarding experience, or one that uses a blend, will overcome the challenge.


Businesses can’t afford their onboarding to stand still. The challenges thrown up by the changing workplace call for new approaches. Download our new guide for ideas and inspiration and to see how the latest onboarding trends are more than a match for the challenges.