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Home / Resources / Learning reinforcement & onboarding – a perfect match

Learning reinforcement & onboarding – a perfect match


Imagine for a moment that you’re a new employee at your organisation. You’ve just had your induction: a day or two in the ‘classroom’ receiving a bucket-load of information about your role, a tour of the workplace and an introduction to managers and colleagues. Now you’ve been taken to your workstation. Induction over. On your own. Get on with it.

How do you feel? Do you feel confident and supported? Do you have the skills you need? Can you even remember all that stuff you’ve just been bombarded with? Or maybe you were inflicted with the other all-too-familiar new joiner scenario, the one where you had no induction at all? Either way, I bet you’re feeling overwhelmed and unprepared.

Swapping roles like this is an eye-opener, isn’t it? It’s obvious that induction delivered in one big chunk and then coming to an abrupt end doesn’t work. It’s a tell-tale sign that the organisation hasn’t grasped the importance of an effective onboarding process. Don’t you want your new joiners to be contributing from Day 1? Not sitting there, unproductive and unhappy. So let’s help them!

There’s another reason why organisations should be treating onboarding seriously: how else are you going to attract and retain talent? A bad induction will send anyone with any talent heading straight for the exit doors. You will have lost the person you wanted and you’ll be facing another costly, time-consuming recruitment campaign.  Surely there must be another way…

Call for reinforcements

So what’s the answer? First off, a change in mind-set as to what onboarding is. It’s not a one-off event. It should be delivered over a period of time, starting with preboarding, ideally, and then continuing after the initial part of induction so that the worker is supported, confident and can retain the knowledge they need to do the job – and to grow. Think of it in terms of an employee experience rather than a one-off training session that has a start and a finish line.

Learning reinforcement and onboarding were made for each other. It’s learning in smaller chunks with repeated testing until the learner has retained the knowledge and is ready to move on to the next level. Learning reinforcement via a platform enables the learning to be personalised and it can be adapted over time. No more ‘one size fits all’. Crucially, it allows the onboarding to be integrated into the working day. It can therefore continue while the employee is on the job.

Onboarding and learning reinforcement: 5 key steps

Step 1 – Build the initial learning around the knowledge required to ensure new staff start with the skills and confidence they need. The learning at this stage should be prioritised accordingly, with a focus on the relevant topics. This is likely to include essential job skills, compliance and corporate culture/values.

Step 2 – Staff take a pre-assessment test so that the content can be personalised and adapted. This will ensure they’re not re-learning stuff they already know, but are being given knowledge that’s relevant to them.

Step 3 – With learning reinforcement, the employee will keep on being tested at intervals on each topic until they’ve retained the knowledge and can move on to the next topic. They are able to learn in a way and at a pace that suits them in a safe environment where there are no consequences.

Step 4 – The employee moves seamlessly into ‘real life’ work, with the prioritised skills now successfully learnt and retained.

Step 5 – This process continues, allowing staff to develop and grow during this important period of their career with their new employer, while improving their capability and performance. They’re happy because they’re contributing and growing. You’re happy because the onboarding is achieving its goal of ever-improving performance.

You see the difference between doing onboarding this way, compared to the nightmare scenarios we outlined at the start? And it’s achievable. There are so many tools that make the learning reinforcement process engaging, fun and effective during onboarding: quizzes, games & gamification with rewards and branching videos all work well in assisting retention through re-testing. Now, a new question arises: Why stop? The answer is, you don’t! You keep on going. But that’s a whole new topic for another blog!