This article was originally published on Digital-Adoption.com

How do you create an effective employee onboarding program in the digital age?

As many businesses are discovering, traditional training methods simply cannot keep up with the fast pace of change in today’s digital workplace.


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Why Effective Employee Onboarding Requires a New Approach

Human-led training approaches, such as classroom training – or even online teaching – suffer from a number of problems, particularly when it comes to software onboarding and training.

For instance:

  • Many enterprise-grade SaaS platforms are complex, sophisticated tools, many of which carry steep learning curves, making it difficult for human trainers to continually onboard new hires
  • Software is continually being updated and upgraded, which means that employees must continue to reskill, relearn, and in some cases “re-onboard” existing software products
  • Human-led software training is simply too costly to maintain and scale

Certain online training methods, such as video courses or text-based self-teaching, solve some of these problems.

However, they too are insufficient.

Online teaching:

  • Also carries heavy administrative and maintenance costs
  • Doesn’t offer content that is personalized, immediate, or context-based, which increases waste and irrelevant information
  • Is not interactive, which means it is less engaging

Fortunately, there is a solution to this problem – in-app software onboarding.

Digital adoption platforms (DAPs) deliver an innovative, revolutionary approach that overcomes the vast majority of the problems covered above.

Let’s explore five reasons why DAP-based onboarding outperforms the other training approaches covered above.

1. Contextualized, Interactive Learning

Human instructors can provide teaching over their students’ shoulders, guiding them as they work.

And although this interactive teaching method can help students learn as they go, it is certainly not scalable or practical in the modern work environment.

Also, when teachers train students, those trainees are not learning within an actual work context. At best, they are learning within a simulated work context, which is not quite the same as the real work environment.

DAPs overcome this problem by quite literally onboarding and training employees within a target software program.

This means that…

  • Employees learn directly in the context of their native software application, as well as their actual work duties
  • Interactivity – something that most online teaching approaches cannot deliver – improves trainee engagement
  • Contextualized learning is experiential, offering immediate gratification and feedback, which improves knowledge retention

DAPs deliver such context-based learning through product tours and walkthroughs, which we’ll look at next.

2. Product Tours

A product tour introduces a product’s features and functions to users, quickly and efficiently.

These types of in-app tours are excellent onboarding tools, because they:

  • Help users grasp the fundamental value proposition and functionality of a program 
  • Reduce the anxiety and uncertainty associated with learning a new application
  • Enable employees to start using a program’s basic features right away
  • Ease the transition between initial onboarding and more in-depth training

Incidentally, these tours are also used during customer onboarding to increase conversion rates and simplify the customer onboarding experience.

3. Software Walkthroughs

A software walkthrough, or a product walkthrough, helps users learn a specific workflow.

Here is how they work:

  • Pop-up bubbles appear inside the application, telling users exactly what they need to do to complete a specific step
  • Users complete that step, then pop-up guidance continues to lead them step-by-step until they finish the task at hand
  • If necessary, users can repeat walkthroughs as many times as needed until they are fully proficient at a task

When using DAPs to onboard and train employees, walkthroughs such as these become fundamental building blocks of the product adoption process.

4. Software Analytics

Another key reason why DAPs outperform other eLearning tools is because they track user behavior directly inside an application.

If a company uses a learning management system or a similar tool to train employees, that tool cannot track how employees interact with the software.

As a result, trainers cannot accurately gauge the effectiveness of their training.

DAP software analytics, in other words…

  • Allow trainers to gain deep insight into how users’ perceive, understand, and interact with a software platform
  • Guide the development and improvement of onboarding and training efforts
  • Can provide more accurate measurements of the ROI of onboarding, training, and software

Analytics can be one of the most useful tools in an onboarding toolbox, but only if it is used properly.

This requires making a commitment to data-driven training, continual improvement, and an agile business approach.

5. Automation

Automation applied in HR can dramatically reduce HR workloads, streamline workflows, and increase productivity.

When it comes to employee onboarding, DAPs can automate:

  • Product tours
  • In-app walkthroughs
  • Technical support queries

This automation relieves the burden on technical support staff, HR personnel, and others involved with employee training.

Naturally, not everything can be automated, nor should it.

However, with the right strategy and approach, automation can significantly improve the effectiveness of employee onboarding efforts.