Improving Employee Engagement During Onboarding 

onboarding handshake

Employees with a negative onboarding experience are twice as likely to leave a company. Employees will also leave companies that do not provide sufficient training during the onboarding process.

If employees do stay with a company despite these complaints, there is a good chance that they are dragging down the productivity of the organisation.  There is enough evidence highlighting the importance of onboarding and its impact on engagement, time-to-performance and retention.

Here then are a few techniques that can help businesses create onboarding programmes that are as engaging as they are effective.


A microlearning approach eliminates the information overload of traditional onboarding. Microlearning delivers one self-contained unit of actionable knowledge at a time as part of a strategic training sequence. It breaks down complex information into more manageable bytes to improve engagement, increase retention, and accelerate the training process.

Microlearning also enables employees to determine their own time and pace of consumption, giving them the flexibility to personalise the experience to their individual requirements. It can even help employees begin training before their first day, thus freeing up HR resources to focus on more substantial face-to-face interactive sessions.


PwC Hungary launched a game on the company’s career website to pre-educate potential job candidates about its vision, services and skills needed for success. As a result, time spent on the website went up by a factor of nine and candidates were better prepared for the interview as well as the onboarding phase.

Gamification streamlines the entire recruitment and onboarding process making it much easier on both candidates and HR teams. It allows businesses to prioritise learning objectives, organise information delivery, streamline consumption and retention, and align onboarding programmes with business goals.

Gamification can build teamwork by enabling new hires to connect with peers and seniors in collaborative learning and problem solving exercises.

Case Studies and Real-life Scenarios

Context is key to learning, so case studies and real-life scenarios provide the context that augments knowledge assimilation and retention. Scenario-based learning is a fairly commonplace technique in training programmes related to topics such as sector compliance as it allows trainees to practice their skills with real world situations, without violating industry norms that can put business licenses at risk. But it is also relevant to onboarding as it immerses employees in an interactive storyline, giving them the opportunity to apply the information they have learned in a practical setting.

Branching scenarios, simulations that branch out differently depending on user decisions, are especially effective in exposing employees to complex business-related situations and in understanding how they respond in real-time. These approaches can generate key insights into employee skill and knowledge gaps, decision-making and judgment, helping tailor programmes to specific learning outcomes.

Transparent Goals and Expectations

Every onboarding programme is designed with some expectations and goals in mind. One of the best ways to make it realistic is to add a timeline to track progress and introduce course corrections if required.

Companies need to develop a 90-day plan, the actual period being subjective, along with a detailed roadmap and key milestones that have to be crossed. The idea is to list all the short-term and long-term learning goals for an employee along with the resources and inputs required to enable it.

Providing employees with a plan gives them a clear understanding of company expectations, prepares them for the course ahead and allows them to evaluate their progress as they go.

Effective Two-way Feedback

Most modern onboarding programmes are designed with a formal feedback mechanism including one-on-one sessions as well as quantitative and qualitative surveys. This helps companies gather information about employee experiences and perceptions at various points during the onboarding process.

There are a range of benefits for eliciting feedback from new hires, starting with the fact that employees like to be heard. The feedback can also provide valuable insights in terms of employee perceptions about the company, and areas of improvement in the onboarding process.

Many employees also thrive on instant feedback. So, one-on-one sessions with direct managers or senior management can help new hires feel recognised and valued.


A successful onboarding programme will have a tremendous impact on employee engagement, productivity and retention. But in order to be successful, it has to be flexible, practical and transparent.

Techniques like microlearning and gamification eliminate the tedium of onboarding, while augmenting its effectiveness and enabling employees to adapt it to their unique learning needs.

Likewise, case studies and real-life scenarios elevate onboarding from a mere theoretical exercise to a programme with practical value.

Author Bio: Anand Srinivasan is the founder of Hubbion, a suite of free business apps and resources

Image by rawpixel from Pixabay

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