New Employee Training: What Do You Include?

Hey instructional designers, 

Designing new employee training can be a very unique challenge. There's so much information to share, how to choose what stays and what goes? What is need-to-know vs. nice-to-know? How do you test learners on their knowledge of this type of information?

I'd love to hear from the community about what you think should be included in new employee orientation/training e-learning. 

Thanks in advance!

4 Replies
Kim Ellis

Hi Nicole, 

WOW where to start. It really depends on the type of employee, I am most used to contact centre advisors who need in depth training before taking contacts.

I use action mapping to decide what people actually need to know.  You can get more info here.

I would also get as much information as possible on types of contact and focus on the most common areas during the course.  Then making sure there were online user-guides available for the not so common issues.

A large part of cutting down on the nice-to-know content just thinking how that information would be used and how it would help the learner in future.  If you cant think of a reason to have it in there, leave it out.  Just make sure it is available somewhere they can access it just in case.

Hope this helps.


Maija Perfiljeva

I think the answers to this question could easily fill a book! :) 

I would say that the first step is to get your stakeholders to agree on the problem that is being solved and the measurement of success. Since the new hire training is such a natural thing to do, it is quite often done without a clearly specified and measurable goal in mind. For example, do we want to increase collaboration between departments by X, reduce the time to competency by Y, etc.  

With the goals defined, I look into what is needed to reach that goal. Most often I had to develop a "reduce time to competency" type of training to get everyone up and running in the shortest time possible, so my points below may not apply to other types of training. Here I would look into performance data, skill and competency lists, frequency and importance of tasks and decide what will be included in the training and what may be outsourced for self-study, post-training support or other non-training channels. I would also try to formulate "user personas" to understand what knowledge, skills, and motivations the new hires will already have (or lack) when they join.

For the design, I would call out two points that I find particularly important to make the task/software oriented training less bloated: 

  • teach "processes" or "tools" in the context of realistic tasks that the learners will need to do (e.g. instead of "Storyline interface overview" go for "Building a multiple-choice question in Storyline"), move from simple to complex tasks as the learners become more confident with the use of the software.
  • if the information needed is available in a knowledge base of any kind - incorporate the use of this base into training (instead of "teaching" it and then saying "you don't really need to memorise all of that, as you can also read it here"), condition the learners to use it to find answers. 

On a side-note, you may sometimes find that the problem you're  trying to solve may also be solved outside of the training. For example, in the past we worked with HR to shift the hiring focus from candidates who had a solid technical background those who were better at customer support. Contrary to the original position of the hiring company, it was more efficient to help "people persons" acquire the technical information than to teach a completely new skill to "techies". This is a rather extreme example, but the key is to keep an open mind about non-training solutions. 

Bob S

Hi Nicole,

My #1 tip for New Hire Training is to separate "onboarding" type training needs from "functional" type training needs.

New folks, regardless of role, will need to be on-boarded with a grounding in the company history, work culture, general resources, etc.  In some cases this sort of onboarding content might even include an organization's unique market propositions. For example: If a core tenant of the company strategy is superlative customer service then perhaps everyone goes through the basics of the company's customer-centric program - regardless of their actual role. The key here is to consider the content that is/should be  applicable to all roles.

Then you have the functions of the particular role that also need to be addressed for new folks. This naturally becomes more role-specific; often with several different versions of the training tied to the number of roles involved.  It's here that a "what will they do most often" approach can be key...

If we start by providing full training support for the most common tasks/processes, learners are often able to leverage that learning (especially with the help of job aids/resources) to accomplish the less frequent or unusual tasks.  In a grossly simplified example; Consider teaching a fast food cashier the ins-and-outs of how to take and ring out a lunch order;  greeting the customer, entering the order, confirming, taking cash and making change, proper bagging, and parting.   If we fully teach and assess this, and subsequently the learner has to work an occasional breakfast shift (instead of lunch), we might reasonably expect that all they might need is a job aid showing the various breakfast items in order to be successful. 

Starting with the common and merely providing support for the  uncommon is a sound strategy on several levels...  It allows the new learner to be successful quickly most of the time and provides them a basis for successful peer-learning and utilizing just-in-time learning resources they are likely to need anyways for the odd stuff.

Hope this helps!

Nathan Stoll

I feel that new hire training needs to incorporate cultural polish on the training courses otherwise it is setting the company up for failure.  As companies grow, one of the biggest challenges is keeping consistent culture.  If a training course suddenly starts to teach process perfection instead of purpose and the "why" for a process, the culture starts to become diluted.  

We challenge all of our clients to first identify what type of culture exists at their shop.  Then we collaborate on ways we can incorporate that into the training design.  For example, anyone can go through an elearning course and learn how to answer the phone, but do they understand what it means to the company/client and how to handle the interaction according to Company values and mission?  

I have seen far to many new hires plugged into the processing world with only a transactional understanding of the company.   These employees often burn out quickly or become disenchanted with the company. New hires (and existing staff) need to know why their job is important, how it impacts the operation, and how they can grow their career.  This creates brand loyalty, satisfaction, and natural motivation.