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Top 5 global onboarding challenges


Onboarding has never been more important. At a time when there’s not enough talent to go around, with skills shortages in many industries, businesses are in competition with each other to recruit and retain the best people. For global organisations, developing a good onboarding programme presents particular challenges.

In this post, we highlight the five C’s – the top onboarding challenges facing global organisations, seeking to recruit and retain new employees or retrain existing workers into new roles. 

1. Consistency

How do you get consistent, high quality learning to everyone, if they’re based at locations across the globe? The answer is to use technologies that have reach and allow for multiple languages.

An example is Specsaver’s Global Online Induction, a 30-minute pre-boarding module created by Sponge for the world’s biggest privately-owned optical and hearing company, employing  30,000 people in 10 countries.

In the module, new hires explore Specsavers’ global activities through an interactive 3D globe animation, while gamification is used to help them learn about the company’s story and values. The course reaches 5,000 new employees each year, with 71% doing the course before starting work.

2. Capability

Accelerating time to productivity so that new employees are contributing quickly but efficiently has always been a challenge. If they have a bad onboarding experience, it impacts productivity. They’re also likely to leave – almost a quarter of staff turnover happens in the first 45 days.

Digital microlearning is ideal for global organisations. It’s inspiring learning that’s also relevant, personalised, adaptive, speedy and can be rolled out across borders. New staff typically spend a few minutes each day learning ‘must know’ knowledge that will get them up to speed and ready to work. Importantly for their confidence, they can access it on demand if they feel they need a reminder.

Microlearning also allows continuous learning, so the onboarding moves seamlessly into ongoing performance development - for everyone, everywhere.

3. Cost

Duplicating onboarding programmes in different territories isn’t just inconsistent, it’s also time-consuming and expensive. Digital onboarding solves this. 

The Global Online Induction programme for Specsavers has massively cut onboarding costs for the company. Early results show £170,000 in savings – including time, classroom and travel costs. The savings have been achieved while delivering the impressive ‘reach’ and participation results outlined earlier.

4. Culture

Translation and localisation are obvious cultural challenges for global onboarding. However, these can be overcome by combining human expertise with technology.

But what about the organisation’s corporate culture and values? How can these be embedded in a global workforce so that they are projected correctly and consistently on a global scale?

Coca-Cola used gamification techniques to reach thousands of its brand ambassadors in 10 countries across Europe, ensuring consistent messaging.

Incorporating a similarly engaging campaign as part of an onboarding process ensures all new employees embrace the company’s culture from the start.

5. Contingent workforce

Traditionally, onboarding is offered only to permanent, salaried staff. Yet in the new workforce ecosystem, work is increasingly being done by contingent workers – a trend that’s predicted to grow further.

Deloitte’s 2018 Global Human Capital Trends report found that only 42% of firms in the survey were staffed primarily by their own employees. Freelance and contract workers are doing much of the work but aren’t included in learning programmes. The report says this is a mistake and that HR should be including these workers in onboarding and skills development.

Three ways of getting onboardingto contingent workers are to adapt the existing LMS to extend its reach to non-salaried as well as salaried personnel; introduce adaptive microlearning for all, focused on business goals and accessible via devices for a few minutes each day; and to have custom-made learning that integrates the diverse workforce so they all get the same induction.


No one ever said global onboarding would be easy! But by making the most of technologies, organisations can attract talent through innovative onboarding and deliver world class learning that will give their companies an edge over competitors.