Building Strong Teams: Onboarding According to Learning Style

Business.com / Strategy / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Onboarding should be as individual as you are. Here are the different types of learners and how to tailor your onboarding program for them.

Onboarding, which is also known as organisation socialisation, refers to employee learning, and the best way that they do that. You want your employees to get the most out of your training so that you in turn get the best productivity out of them, and onboarding can help you with this.

Research has shown that by using onboarding tactics, such as formal meetings, lectures, videos, printed materials, and computer generate orientation, to introduce new employees to their roles; they will be more loyal to you. In fact, one study showed that employees are 69% more likely to stick with your company for over three years if they go through a well-structured orientation program. Not only that, they have a higher job satisfaction, commitment, and better performance levels (source).

If this isn’t enough to convince you, then note that according to interactive services 54% of businesses who continually update their onboarding programs, have a greater hire retention rate – which of course saves you the massive cost of constantly hiring new employees.

According to SHRM, onboarding needs to cover four main topics, which is referred to as the 4 C’s:

  • Compliance – this includes teaching employees basic legal and policy-related rules and regulations. As these policies change, your onboarding needs to be updated.
  • Clarification – this is to ensure that employees understand their new jobs and all related expectations. It can be a great place to sort out any confusion.
  • Culture – this is a broad category that includes providing employees with a sense of organizational norms. What do you expect from your employees? How should they behave when they are at work?
  • Connection – this refers to the vital interpersonal relationships and information networks that new employees must establish. Do you have any rules when it comes to discrimination, etc? Make this very clear so that there can be no confusion.

When putting together your own onboarding program, you need to consider the needs of all the different types of learners:

Visual Learners

Visual learners retain information much better when it comes from something visual – images, graphics, charts, etc. To get the most out of these employees, you will need to ensure that your onboarding program uses a lot of exciting visuals – particularly with the most important points of your presentation.

Auditory Learners

Auditory learners retain the information that they hear, better than anything else. They follow spoken directions really well, and are able to memorise certain things very well. It’s best to include a lot of well structured lectures which allow for questions and answers, and debate. Being able to discuss what they have learnt helps auditory learners even further.

Kinesthetic Learners

Kinesthetic Learners find that carrying out physical activities help them to understand things better. They don’t do too well with sit down lectures because their attention spans don’t last for long enough. Completing hands on challenges works much better for them, so set tasks that relate to their job to get the most from them.

Reading/Writing Learners

Learners who find reading and writing the best way to learn enjoy taking notes and doing their own research. Setting challenges or learning objectives that allow for this will help them, as will exams.

Of course, there is no way if instantly telling what type of learner a person is, and sometimes people fit into more than one category, which means you will need to include all of the elements in one way or another to appeal to everyone.

So how do you go about this? There are a number of onboarding methods that you can use within the learning, including:

  • Lectures – you can bring in teachers to run lectures on specific topics for your employees. This can help the read/write learners, and if they use enough audio and visual materials, the other learners too.
  • Work-Related Challenges – before an employee starts, or to see how they’re doing, you can run tasks that are linked to the job. This can give you the opportunity to discuss with your employees the best way to get things done.
  • Videos – you can run online conferences and create training videos that your employees can watch at their leisure.
  • Drip Feed Email – email training can be done the entire time that your employees are working for you, and you can even include online tests to check that everything is being learned in the right way – if not, it may be time to make a change to your system.
  • Storyboarding – this is a great, very visual way, to show your employees the way that you expect things to be done. Finishing this off with a debate is a good way to engage different types of learners.

There are a number of tips that you should be aware of to get the most out of your onboarding courses:

  • They should be run by more than one person to make sure that everyone has someone that they can relate to. Also, you have a much better chance of all the learning methods being included if you use multiple teachers.
  • It should start right away. To ensure that your employees really improve via the onboarding program, it should start the day that you hire someone and continue throughout their employment.
  • Include some downtime. Onboarding can be stressful, especially for new employees, so arrange something a little more fun like a lunch where all questions can be addressed in a less formal setting.

One of the most important things when it comes to onboarding is to get feedback. You need to know what you did right and what went wrong, and how much your employees feel like it has helped them with their job. If you don't do this, you could be wasting a lot of time, effort and money on something that is having no impact. If you do, you can make all the changes you need to do better in the future.

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