Why You Need an LMS to Develop a Stellar Onboarding Program

Jill W.

Did you know that half of all senior outside hires are gone in 18 months? For hourly employees, the numbers are worse; according to Tayla Bauer half leave within 4 months. Losing half your new employees so quickly is not a good return on the investment that goes into recruitment.

But there is good news. Bauer also found that good onboarding practices can not only lower turnover but improve overall employee performance. And the key to great onboarding is your Learning Management System (LMS).

An effective LMS will provide the support you need to develop and manage a comprehensive onboarding program that welcomes new hires and accelerates their integration with your organization. Read on to learn 9 ways your Learning Management System (LMS) can play a starring role onboarding new employees.

1. The LMS is the Foundation of a Formal Onboarding Strategy

Formal onboarding programs involve a standardized, documented onboarding process and materials. In informal onboarding, the process is usually up to an employee's supervisor. New hires may be made welcome and told what they need to know, or they may be left to sink or swim as best they can. Bauer found that has shown that those companies considered best at onboarding have formal programs.

The right LMS can form the foundation of a formal onboarding strategy. As onboarding learning content is developed, it should be stored and presented by the LMS and assigned to new employees. This ensures that employees receive consistent, up-to-date material. There's no risk of:

  • Accidently handing an employee an outdated handbook
  • A manager forgetting to mention a key point or, worse yet, getting the facts wrong
  • Orientation being overlooked

Orientation being overlooked entirely because an employee joined at an odd or unusually busy time, or because a manager simply can't be bothered

2. Individualized Learning Paths Assign Appropriate Learning

Onboarding is a performance-based, customized approach. So you need to make sure employees identify their personal goals and how they can individually contribute to the organization.

Your LMS should be able to create individualized learning paths for each employee, ensuring that they learn what they need to know without suffering through material that isn't necessary.

A core curriculum should be assigned to all recruits. It will include an introduction to the company or brand, its history and values, and any policies or legal requirements that apply to all employees in the organization.

Next, the learning path should cover job-specific material that employees will need to know to perform their roles.

3. The LMS Records Assessment Results

Who ever heard of taking a test on the employee handbook? Well, why not? If the information is important enough to present to employees, isn't it also important to make sure they understood it?

Assessing learning has many benefits. Assessment results can be used to decide:

  • What learning material needs to be improved
  • Where an individual employee might need extra assistance
  • In some cases, whether you really do want to continue onboarding a particular employee

Your LMS should provide a variety of reports to help make these decisions.

4. The LMS Provides Documentation that Onboarding Training and Events Occurred

Learning records have another benefit. It's one you hope you'll never need, but it's invaluable if you do. The LMS can provide documentation that employees successfully completed training with liability implications. Evidence that someone completed compliance training or learned about your sexual harassment policy can be vital.

5. An LMS Holds Onboarding Training Materials for Future Reference

Did you receive an employee handbook when you started? If so, do you know where it is now, and is it up-to-date? Probably not.

New hires are often overwhelmed with information. On their first day, someone tells them about 10 important policies, the names of 23 coworkers, how to book their hours and fill out an expense report, where the printer and breakroom are, gives them an employee handbook and asks them to read 235 pages of organizational documentation. At the end of the month, they look at their expense report and think "Someone said something". Then they ask their coworkers, and, often as not, learn to make the mistakes everyone else in the department is making.

Learning materials in an LMS aren't just available while working on a course, they're there for future reference as well. Employees struggling to absorb all the new information provided during onboarding will welcome the opportunity to review material at their leisure and as necessary.

Better still, if the guidelines for completing that expense report change, you just need to update the content in the LMS and everyone checking on the process will be accessing the latest updates.

6. LMSs can Help Avoid New Hire Overload by Supporting Microlearning

Another way to avoid overwhelming new employees, and to appeal to millennials at the same time, is to use microlearning. Microlearning is learning broken down into small chunks, presenting just what the learner needs to know at the moment.

Employees working through the onboarding process will appreciate bite-sized bits of learning they can cope with. They'll learn the pieces they need now and come back to the rest when they reach a point where it becomes useful.

7. An LMS can Increase Learner Motivation by Gamifying the Onboarding Process

Gamification is a great way to increase learner motivation and to encourage new employees by recognizing their accomplishments.

It can even be leveraged to create a community of new employees by challenging them to earn more points or badges than last season's newcomers and providing forums or messaging systems for them to collaborate (and commiserate).

8. With an LMS Managing eLearning, the Employee Picks the Time, Place and Pace of Learning

ELearning in general has many benefits. These include:

Self-paced learning

Slower employees are less intimidated and overwhelmed when they can set their own pace instead of having to keep up with the rest of a class. They can learn better when they have the time they need to absorb the material.

Faster learners are equally pleased with self-paced learning, as they aren't held back by others and can complete the training more quickly.

Flexible time and place

eLearning tends to be less disruptive to the workplace, as learners can train during downtime or slow periods, or even at home. This flexibility allows onboarding to occur even earlier in the recruitment process. New employees can be added to the LMS and assigned the core onboarding material even before they begin work, becoming familiar with the organization and their role in it before they show up for their first day.

Less expensive and more flexible than instructor-led training (ILT)

Relying on ILT for onboarding training can be expensive and limiting. If few people are hired at a time, they may have to wait some time before there are enough new recruits to justify a training class. This isn't an issue with eLearning, because once the material is developed it can be offered to as few or as many people at a time as you like.

Equally, if new hires are in different locations, eLearning avoids the travel expenses of bringing them together for a class.

9. With Support for Blended Learning, an LMS Can Manage all Aspects of Onboarding

Not all aspects of onboarding can or even should occur online. Welcoming new employees and integrating them into the community is a key feature of successful onboarding, and considerable face-to-face contact is necessary. Effective onboarding involves personal meetings with the following, at the very least:

  • Direct manager
  • Team members and coworkers
  • Any direct reports

An LMS with good support for blended learning will schedule and document these meetings or seminars as well, providing a record and a reminder for the full onboarding pathway.


In this article, we reviewed 9 ways your LMS can contribute to a successful onboarding program. A formal onboarding program is a necessity for businesses today. Your LMS should help you organize your training, chart out your process, record events and analyze the results.

Does your LMS provide the support you need for successful onboarding? These articles can help you find the LMS that's right for your organization:

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Jill W.

Jill is an Instructional Designer at BaseCorp Learning Systems with more than 10 years of experience researching, writing and designing effective learning materials. She is fascinated by the English language and enjoys the challenge of adapting her work for different audiences. After work, Jill continues to leverage her professional experience as she works toward the development of a training program for her cats. So far, success has not been apparent.