As 2020 moves into the rear-view mirror, and the prospect of universal vaccines coming at some point in 2021, what has been the impact on the learning industry and onboarding?

From many conversations with our clients and colleagues, we have developed a simple rubric.

1. Things are not going back to the old ways, probably ever.

Remote working is now part of the official plan for the future. Why relocate or subject a knowledge worker to a long commute? Getting an on-premises onboarding class together is going to be impractical and hard to arrange moving forward. Not to mention you can save a big percentage of the average onboarding cost by using effective vILT (virtual instructor led training) sessions, e-learning modules, remote tours, and simulations instead.

2. All the stuff we “threw” online last spring needs a careful review.

The industry did a brilliant job of switching to online onboarding last year. Some companies moved their entire courses online in a couple of weeks. But in reality, this was not a lot more than recording existing material and posting them in an LMS or delivering them on Zoom. Good enough for a pandemic, but not good enough now. It needs going over and sorting out, but how?

It was amazing to see how quickly organizations switched to on-line learning and onboarding in 2020 – James Ringrose CEO RCP Learning.

3. Without a roadmap, this is going to be hard!

A roadmap! Applying a consistent methodology to reviewing current assets against a revised delivery approach is critical. How do existing learning needs translate? Can learning objectives be met, and how will the results be implemented?

4. There is an opportunity to enhance the effectiveness of onboarding training.

Even the limited experience large organizations have had has shown that this is a great chance to address the differing needs of learners. Without wanting to start an argument, most folks can agree that in-person learning is a form of one size fits all. It’s hard to consider the needs of learners who can’t drink from a firehose and need time to review and digest. Remote learning fixes this and offers a chance to measure progress and performance.

5. Avoid turn-over and increase initial effectiveness and integration.

If you think this whole thing is a self-inflicted to-do list, we have supporting evidence to the contrary. Employee retention and effectiveness increase the better the initial training and introduction to your onboarding delivers. It’s a career-enhancing metric for you and a happiness metric for your employees.

6. There’s something we all missed.

There’s one critical snag with all this. What’s missing from online onboarding? Lunches and drinks in the hotel bar. Ok, I’m kidding. The missing thing is interacting and meeting with your peers and others. After a few days or more of in-person training, you recognize them, and they remember you. You are probably forced to meet your boss and their boss and sometimes the entire senior management. Even the most reticent and introverted employee is included.

Overall, our findings strongly emphasize the importance of social interaction for intra-MNE knowledge streams. — Niels Noorderhaven and Anne-Wil Harzing

7. Socialization doesn’t work online half as well.

So, what’s the solution? An after-training process to encourage and track informal meetings for “meet and greet” with the appropriate individuals for your role. Your boss, their boss, the HR person, etc. If it’s gamified and easy to see your progress toward a defined goal, it can go a long way to replacing the in-person stuff.

This is an exciting period in our industry! There’s a lot to look forward to.