Blended New Hire Training is the Answer to Successful Remote Onboarding

8 min read |
Blender and Fruit

As the COVID-19 Pandemic has moved from public and employee safety, remote work has started to come under attack from small and large companies that are requiring workers to come back to the office. One of the biggest reasons companies give for needing to get back to the office is that new hires are struggling to assimilate in remote work settings and are looking for social connections at work.

Why discard all of the value added from remote work flexibility just to be in a physical office that, quite frankly, many people do not desire? Can’t we just create good New Hire Training experiences that blend the best of both worlds?  Yes, we can!  What exactly is that called again?  Blended Learning in New Hire Training.  To really understand what this is we must dissect the two terms. Let’s start with New Hire Training, to make sure that we are all on the same page. 

New Hire Training is not just administrative onboarding. New hire training should give the new employee a solid understanding of what they need to know to be successful in the job they are being hired for.  New Hire Training is the first impression an employee has of the employer and one of the biggest factors in determining if they will stay around for more than a cup of coffee. 

So why should employers care if New Hire Training gives a good impression?  Check out these stats highlighted below from a Shortlister article The HR Landscape in 2022: 120+ Employee Onboarding Statistics

  • The first 45 days of employment account for up to 20% of worker turnover. (SHRM
  • Interactive employees who engage in a structured onboarding program are 69% more likely to stay for three years. (ClickBoarding, 2020) 

What is Blended Learning?

Blended learning can take on several models, but they all encourage a hybrid learning environment. A hybrid environment combines face-to-face learning with distance learning. They generally should follow the ASCD recommendations below:

  • Attention-grabbing content introductions that activate student engagement.
  • Modeling and chunking strategies for helping students develop new skills.
  • Checks for understanding and assessments that align with learning goals.
  • Opportunities for interacting with other students to collaborate and process together.
  • Scaffolding encourages learners to connect their understanding with meaningful scenarios.

Okay so are all blended learning models the same?  No, let’s quickly look at a few different blended learning models.

The Flipped Classroom Model: In this model, the teacher/trainer facilitates the completion of projects and acts as a coach as the students practice using concepts learned independently through reading at home. 

The Enriched Virtual Model: Like the flipped classroom, students learn mostly online, but have virtual or live in-person / face-to-face sessions that are also required. 

The Flex Model: This is a self-paced model in which the learner/ student basically learns independently and participates in required in-person components that incorporate breakout rooms, lab exercises, and collaboration.

A La Carte Model: Requires student/ learner self-direction as learners will self-select a large portion or all of their courses. Not exactly ideal for New Hires who don’t know what they need to know.

What Blended learning models do I recommend for your New Hire Training Program?  My recommendation is to develop a blended learning strategy over a series of pilot launches, allowing you to perfect the process. I do think as indicated above that some of these models provide a smoother new hire training over others. I personally like the Enriched Virtual model because it gives each new hire the ability to get started and learn from day one, regardless of the start date for each new employee. The Enriched Virtual model in my experience easily allowed me to get new hires up to speed on core concepts on their own while building shared virtual and in-person experiences for people starting within a general 60-day range of start dates. For example, if John Doe started 1 month after Jane Doe, they would be in different places in their individual learning track but would be part of the same cohort where they build upon previous knowledge with the application of those concepts in a live virtual group setting. 

Blended Learning Models are the perfect way to train new hires asynchronously, which gives individuals enough autonomy to satisfy quick starters while also providing synchronous group-guided lessons that require the application of previously acquired knowledge (scaffolding). The culmination of this type of New Hire Training would allow team members to assess the new employee's ability to carry out foundational responsibilities while providing real-time feedback. 

Group of People Hugging
In-person training programs offer new employees to start building connections with their peers.

The Role of In-Person Training

In-person training is a critical part of the onboarding experience and is your best chance to reinforce your company values and team’s culture to new hires. Making sure that executive leaders are available to attend this in-person portion is essential to making your new hires feel important, but also shows them how invested the company is in them. The in-person training also provides new employees the opportunity to build connections that help establish trust and affirms the employee’s decision to join your organization. Employees who have positive relationships with their peers are more engaged and productive. When possible, hosting smaller cohorts of people allows team members to connect in a more intimate setting that may help some employees be more comfortable during conversations. Venues, such as boutique hotels like a citizenM offer a unique atmosphere outside the traditional conference room which helps build connections and sparks creativity.

What are the benefits of a blended new hire training?

There are many benefits to having a blended new hire training program, but let’s list a few and I’ll double-click on just a couple. 

Cohorts are Key: Blended New Hire Training allows you to use Cohorts to organize new hires into trackable groups based on a range of start dates.  These cohorts give new hires an instant network, and peers to learn from. These cohorts have been known to stay connected to each other years after new hire training. It’s not just great for the new hire, but it’s also a great way to track data of cohorts and how they are impacting the business overall. 

Operational Excellence:  Blended learning allows you more time to pick up on gaps of lots of learners and tailor future lessons to learner needs or implement a buddy/mentor to double-click on those gaps. From a program perspective, you can get great feedback on specific aspects of the training, and they can be quickly updated, replaced, or removed to improve the experience for the next cohort. With cohorts, the tracking of data on your new hires becomes clear cut as mentioned earlier, but also allows you to report ramp to productivity across the entire class. 

Culture is on display:  Blended learning uses a variety of speakers and presenters, most of which are internal employees.  This shows new hires a pay-it-forward type of culture, so when they get comfortable in the role, they can also help others who are just getting started by being a future speaker or mentor/buddy.  No matter if it’s giving back to a charity or giving back to the company, new hire training can provide a great platform to put your culture on display. 

Okay so I’ve given you my thoughts and opinions on the benefits of a structured blended new hire training experience, but how about some data to back it up? 

  • A strong onboarding experience ensures that 69% of workers remain with a firm for three years. (SHRM
  • A regular onboarding procedure experience boosts recruit retention by 50%. (HBR, 2018) 
  • Businesses that use organized onboarding see a 60% increase in revenue year over year. (Northpass, 2019) 
  • Giving a mentor or buddy to a recruit throughout the onboarding process enhances the new hire’s efficiency. (Sapling HR, 2021) 
  • Organizations with formal onboarding training are less likely to lose more than 60% of their entire workforce within four years. (TMF Group, 2018) 
  • Within a year, 25% of businesses lose up to 60% of their total personnel. However, adopting an onboarding program may boost retention by 25%. (Clear Company, 2020) 
  • Organizations with an excellent onboarding process increased new hire retention rates by 52%. (Clear Company, 2020)

So let's not just throw out all of the innovations we created during the pandemic; instead, be intentional about creating meaningful, blended new-hire training opportunities that give your remote team members the autonomy they love about being remote, while providing structured in-person programs that allow them to grow their networks, get invaluable feedback, and build relationships that will make for great employee experiences.


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