Onboarding

How to differentiate your onboarding and training processes 

Posted on: April 14, 2022

The terms “onboarding” and “training” are sometimes used interchangeably, but this is a mistake that might be hurting your business. Although there’s a lot of overlap between onboarding and training, they’re not the same thing—and a different approach is required for each. Consider that:

There’s no denying how important it is to master the distinct nuances of both onboarding and training. So how do you go about it? 

The differences between onboarding and training 

The main difference between onboarding and training is that onboarding is a short-term series of steps to process and acclimate new employees, while training is an ongoing process to develop workplace skills and proficiencies. Unfortunately, many employees only experience training during their onboarding phase. But in order to be effective, training must go beyond the one-and-done onboarding process and become a part of the everyday work experience. This ensures that people can retain information, build new skills and keep pace with change. 

The distinctions between onboarding and training have become especially pronounced in light of the recent labor shortages and staffing challenges—especially for frontline workers. In many cases, new employees must be brought up to speed the same day they’re hired. As such, the onboarding must be streamlined to emphasize only the essentials. Then, as they get comfortable in the role, they can expand their knowledge with continued training. 

The basics of new employee onboarding 

The onboarding process can be divided into four phases: 

  • Pre-onboarding. This is everything leading up to the first day on the job. It may include new hire paperwork, adding the new hire to the schedule and briefing them on what to expect on their first day. 
  • Getting to know the team and the workplace. There’s an important company culture aspect to onboarding. Once the employee arrives, they should be introduced to fellow team members, given a tour of the workplace and made to feel at home as part of the team. Depending on the workplace, there might be an employee orientation or even a getting-to-know-you lunch or other event. In some cases, the employee will also be assigned a peer mentor. 
  • New hire training. This typically includes the most basic job functions. What does the employee need to know on day one and in their first few days and weeks?
  • Reconnecting with management. Before the employee transitions from new hire training to working independently, a manager should check in to see how things are going. Then they should continue to check in regularly. The manager should gauge the employee’s overall impression of the workplace, what questions they still have and whether they’re struggling in any particular areas. 

The importance of continuous employee training 

Training is a blanket term that can include such tasks as:

Some of this on-the-job training does occur during the onboarding phase, but it’s a discipline unto itself. Whereas onboarding typically happens over the course of a few days (or sometimes weeks), training is a process that should never end. Understandably, this isn’t always a priority in light of challenges like busy schedules, limited staffing and difficulty pulling people out of the operations for lengthy online courses. But it’s nevertheless important to constantly expand each employee’s skillset while reinforcing what they’ve already learned. 

That’s where an LMS like Axonify can be extremely effective. Lessons are delivered in just 3 to 5 minutes a day, so employees can constantly sharpen their skills whether they work at an organization for 6 months or 10 years. And the content is delivered on the devices that employees already use. A quality LMS offers all the benefits without the burden. 

Onboarding vs training – an example

As an example, consider a sales associate at a clothing boutique. 

  • Their onboarding might include their new hire paperwork, getting to know the team and company culture, expectations, how to use any company software, cash register training, basic loss prevention, product tag removal and how to fold apparel. This would all generally happen before the employee is allowed to work independently on the floor. 
  • Their general training would continue after the onboarding phase has ended. But it would extend to include supplementary, non-essential skills that might not be retained or applied immediately—such as product knowledge, communication skill training, how to take inventory, conflict resolution and how to stock new products. 

A reliable LMS should support both onboarding and training

A high-quality LMS should help people complete new hire training as quickly and effectively as possible and then transition them into continuous learning to close personal knowledge gaps and keep pace with changes. Consider Axonify as an example.

Axonify supports new hire training:

  • By allowing you to build an onboarding checklist with custom learning activities for new hires
  • By allowing you to organize onboarding tasks according to due date; learning leaders can configure custom milestones to set the pace for each employee’s onboarding-related training.
  • By determining knowledge gaps and tailoring the ongoing reinforcement training accordingly.
  • By supporting not just training modules but also live, in-person tasks (like management-led facility tours) that can be scheduled and confirmed within our onboarding LMS

Axonify supports continuous training: 

  • By enabling employees to learn at their own pace on their own devices.
  • By promoting knowledge retention through microlearning and gamification. 
  • By offering job aids like guides, infographics and FAQs that employees can access at a glance.
  • By connecting employees in a social learning environment. 
  • By tailoring the lessons to the employee. 

When you have an effective onboarding program in place, your reinforcement training will go much smoother. It all starts with setting that firm foundation from day one. You’ll notice a difference in performance, motivation and employee retention rates. When companies invest in both processes, everybody wins.