How Real-Time Training Can Fast-Track Onboarding & Improve Retention

Rick Farrell
August 28, 2023
min read
April 19, 2024
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Real-time training helps employers fast-track onboarding, improve employee retention and potentially save tens of thousands of dollars on recruitment.
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rFilling vacancies has rarely been as difficult as it is right now, making effective onboarding and employee retention more important than ever.

With unemployment at a historic low, recruitment has continued to grow for nearly three years now, along with average hourly earnings, according to the New York Times.

Although job growth is starting to slow down somewhat, American employers and their HR teams will continue to find it challenging to fill vacancies for months to come.

The solution? Use real-time training and education to help build a bridge for new employees. As an HR professional, you benefit by accelerating your company’s onboarding process and encouraging employee retention. 

The importance of effective onboarding & employee retention

Recruiting new employees is expensive, no matter the size of your business. Data from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) suggests that the average cost per hire in the United States falls just short of $4,700. 

That number may not look excessively high at first, but industry experts believe that the total cost of hiring a new team member may be three or even four times that person’s salary.

What causes the increase? The answer is so-called soft costs. SHRM chair Edie Goldberg believes that soft costs constitute up to 60 percent of the costs of the recruitment process. 

These add up when companies start accounting for the time department managers and others spend supporting HR professionals during the recruitment process.

The point of the argument is this: for most businesses, recruitment is simply too expensive to get wrong. Starting from a job advert through the interview and onboarding process to long-term employee retention, finding and keeping the right people is the key to profitability.  

Challenges in traditional onboarding: time constraints & information overload

Why is traditional onboarding so challenging? Onboarding can make or break the relationship between a new employee and the business. Poorly designed or planned onboarding processes leave a bad impression on new hires and may cause them to reconsider their choice of employer. While they might not leave immediately, they also may never truly come on board.

If you’re finding it difficult to imagine this as an HR professional, compare it to this scenario: based on their CV and cover letter, a candidate looks perfect for the vacancy you’re trying to fill. However, the person is a little late for their interview and not dressed appropriately. How much harder do they have to work now to be seriously considered?

The same happens when new employees are met with poor onboarding practices. 

Two of the most common onboarding problems include:

  • Being overloaded with information.
  • Mentors and managers struggling with time constraints.

Many companies are expecting new employees to ‘hit the ground running.’ In reality, that is rarely realistic.

Even the most highly qualified new hire will need some kind of induction or onboarding. They will also often require training on tools and platforms the company uses as well as learning about products and services. No amount of pre-interview research can cover everything. 

Enabling real-time training, safety training & collaboration

So, how can companies facilitate training for new employees without overwhelming them with too much information in too little time or putting undue pressure on line managers? 

Real-time training, safety training and encouraging collaboration are three of the most effective approaches. 

1. Real-time training

Real-time training or education means giving employees the knowledge and information they need when they need it.

Taking this approach during onboarding helps you avoid overwhelming a new team member with information they may not need for some time. Real-time learning allows you to streamline your onboarding process and removes pressure from those involved in onboarding.

2. Safety training

Depending on the nature of the position you’re trying to fill, safety training may be a priority during onboarding. For example, jobs in manufacturing may expose new employees to unfamiliar equipment and potentially also to new hazards.

By implementing effective safety training tips, you can ensure that new hires are well-prepared and equipped to handle any potential risks in their roles.

Where that’s the case, employers need to ensure that new team members receive adequate training as soon as they join the company. Again, it’s worth prioritizing immediate areas of risk and others that can be addressed later. 

3. Encouraging collaboration 

Are you leaving new employees alone at their desks? No line manager can spend their entire day onboarding a new team member, but why not share the responsibility among colleagues?

Collaborating with others can soon see your new hire get up to speed while learning about company-specific systems and procedures in the process. 

These are just three examples of approaches companies can take to streamline and accelerate their onboarding process. In our experience, real-time training tends to be effective in most circumstances. 

Why real-time training provides an ideal solution for efficient & engaging onboarding

Real-time training allows companies to offer employees the right skills at the right time. Here are some of the benefits of taking this approach as opposed to a traditional onboarding process:

  • Onboarding takes less time because immediate needs can be prioritized.
  • Employees avoid feeling overwhelmed by information they can’t immediately apply.
  • Employers minimize the risk of employees forgetting information and having to re-train. 

Most new employees are highly motivated when they start a new job. As routine sets in, it’s easy for that motivation to drop. Real-time learning provides companies and their teams with an opportunity to keep employees engaged for years to come. Highly engaged employees are more likely to stay in their job as they’re able to grow with their position. As a result, your business increases its retention rates and limits the need for new hires. 

In addition, real-time training offers an excellent opportunity to add to an employee’s skills. At a time when nearly nine out of ten companies struggle with skills shortages, according to consultants McKinsey & Co., real-time training can help upskill both existing and new team members. Rather than recruiting new people to close skills gaps, you expand the skills of your existing team to further aid retention.

Effective onboarding and employee retention don’t need to be difficult or expensive. Start using real-time training today to accelerate onboarding, improve retention, and build your business. 

Author: Rick Farrell, President, PlantTours

Farrell is North America’s foremost expert in improving manufacturing group communication, education, training and group hospitality processes. He has over 40 years of group hospitality experience, most recently serving as President of PlantTours for the last 18 years.  He has provided consulting services with the majority of Fortune 500 industrial corporations improving group communication dynamics of all types in manufacturing environments.

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