Training New Employees – 3 Essential Elements for Every Onboarding Program

So you’ve scoured the applicant pool and found the perfect person for the job, the hard part is done, right? Really, you’re only about half-way up the hill. The training the new employee receives is just as important as who you’ve hired.

Don’t believe us? ADP says that 91% of managers, 81% of HR administrators, and 75% of employees say onboarding is not done right. It’s also been reported that it costs an organization 1.5x the employee’s salary to replace and get a new employee up to speed. It’s safe to say, getting onboarding right is crucial.

Here are the three essentials to keep in mind so your training will hit the mark.


1. The Warm Welcome: Ease Their First Day Nerves

New employees have a lot to get the jitters about—a new job, an unfamiliar commute, a new office space, possibly a new city, and all new co-workers (not to mention new responsibilities). It’s important to start to build trust and confidence the moment they walk in the door. Let’s face it, first impressions are important, and a team member’s first day is also their first peek behind the curtain.

On day 1 new team members will start to make judgments on what makes you tick as a company, how the organization is run, and your culture. Are managers hiding behind locked doors? Are their new co-workers friendly? Do the leaders really care?

You only get one chance to set the tone for their first experience. Alleviate their fears and establish a culture of caring by showing them that they’re more than just a number.

If you’re a small company, have each new employee sit down with someone from the C-Suite to get the story of the company. It helps them feel like they’re more than just a number—the leaders care about them and take the time to get to know them.

For larger organizations, a good option is an Introductory Video – a short and sweet message from leadership that all new hires can watch. It tells them a bit about the company, the role employees play in their continued success, and how excited leadership is that they’re joining the team.

Why does this make such a difference? The Gallup organization reports that 71% of employees today are either not engaged or are actively disengaged at work. Establishing a culture where every person matters and is valued is a great way to help build a new employee’s trust that they joined the right organization—and that buy-in is an important factor in keeping employees engaged.


2. The Coaching Mindset: Establish Check Points and Expectations

87% of Millennials recently surveyed stated that professional development and career growth are very important to them. Your employees are hungry, and they want success – they just don’t always know how to get there. That’s where you come in.

Outline clear expectations and milestones using a BARS (Behavior Anchored Rating Scale) Chart. The BARS Chart serves as the foundation for the new employee. It outlines what not acceptable, good, and GREAT looks like in their role.

Peer mentor check-ins are a great way to reinforce these GREAT behaviors in a less intimidating setting. New employees can watch a tenured employee perform the GREAT behaviors, talk through their best practices, and openly discuss challenges with someone in their same role.

Then use a 30/60/90-day Plan to build off that framework. These plans allow managers to work with an employee to gauge where they fall at each milestone (according to the BARS Chart) and plan for next steps.

At each of these milestones, the manager should meet with the new hire to discuss their progress and goals for the coming days using the 30/60/90-day Plan as a framework. 


3. The Wow Factor: Cater to the Modern Learner

We all know that there are certain things that simply have to be covered when it comes to training new hires: your company’s mission, vision, values, the tools/software they’ll use, and the knowledge, skills, and behaviors they need to do their job well. Check out this Onboarding Checklist to see if your program covers the basics.

But it’s not enough to just check all the boxes, you have to make it memorable. The average employee checks his or her phone more than 150 times per day, so it’s not surprising that the modern learner has a shorter attention span and will tire of the “required” content quickly if you don’t make it exciting.

Reading a manual, sitting through a presentation, or taking a compliance course isn’t going to cut it for the modern learner. Instead, weave in as much interactivity as possible.

You can do things like a VR scavenger hunt for office essentials, add mobile-friendly self-paced foundational courses, or include Simulated or Animated Videos in to your onboarding program. We promise your learners will notice the difference and their knowledge and retention will improve.

Remember, finding and hiring the right people is only part of the battle—how you train them, starting at day 1, is a big factor. For more info on onboarding, check out our article on Onboarding Best Practices. And if you’re interested in learning about Introductory Videos, BARS Charts, 30/60/90-day Plans, Animated or Simulated Videos, incorporating Virtual Reality and more, let us know. We’d love to talk to you and help assess which onboarding training elements are right for your company! 

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Your Sales Enablement Software Needs Interactive Product Demos

Sales enablement is a fast-growing space. Look up sales enablement software, and you’ll find hundreds of proposed solutions. Most of them are rep-focused and provide information like lead data, sales presentations, and marketing collateral. These features can definitely help sales reps be more efficient, but if your sales enablement software doesn’t support interactive product demos, you’re missing out.

In this article, we explain how you can deliver a better customer experience, onboard faster, and close more sales when your sales enablement software includes interactive product demos.

First things first: if you think sales enablement is just for geofencing and tracking sales calls, expand your definition of sales enablement. Think of sales enablement as a smart mix of technology and training. When you include interactive demos throughout your sales enablement tool, reps have everything they need in one place. They can quickly learn about your products and services, and then sell them the right way—faster.

What are interactive product demos?

In this context, interactive product demos are highly visual pieces of sales presentation content that explain the features and benefits of a product or service. They help the viewer understand how something you sell works—and how it stacks up against the competition—in a compelling way.


I’ve seen two demo formats work really well: short videos and interactive, highly visual learning modules. Videos support storytelling and demonstrate benefits. Interactive learning modules simulate how product features work and explain how they benefit the customer.


Short videos support storytelling and demonstrate benefits.


Interactive learning modules simulate product features and explain the benefits.

What can interactive product demos help my sales reps do?

Deliver a better customer experience

In my experience, the most effective interactive product demos can explain a product or service in 10 seconds or less. 65% of your customers are visual learners, so when you show how something works (rather than tell), you seriously upgrade your customer experience.

Your customers are also busy, and they don’t have time for clunky PowerPoints and outdated brochures. They want to learn new information quickly so they can make a buying decision.


Forrester shares that interactive product demos change the medium of video from a “lean-back to a lean-forward interactive experience,” empowering and informing customers as they move further down the sales funnel.

Here’s what Hubspot says:

“When customers feel like they’re in control, they will often take risks, such as trying new services or taking a chance on a new product.”

If you want to share your value propositions with your customers in an exciting, visual way, see if your sales enablement software can support interactive product demos. You’ll help your customers understand how you can solve their challenges and why they should buy from you.

Onboard reps faster

You want your new sales reps to be more productive, faster. In fact, we’ve found they’re actively looking for short, to-the-point ways to explain your products and services. Reps want to deliver accurate information and hold their customer’s attention.

Interactive product demos allow sales reps to gain expertise with very little time commitment. In the same way product demos help your customers learn, they help your reps learn, too. There’s an assurance in knowing their sales enablement software has helpful product information, right there when they need it. I’ve seen reps who have access to interactive product demos achieve quota as soon as Month 2 or Month 3.

When sales enablement tools include interactive product demos, reps have more confidence during their customer conversations. They also have access to consistent, helpful content for each customer, regardless of their location and level of experience.

Close more sales

Time is a sales rep’s most precious resource. Selling Power says the average rep spends just 10 percent of their time selling. When your sales enablement software doubles as a sleek interactive product demo, reps gain time to devote to their core objective: selling. No more late nights formatting PowerPoint slides.

On top of that, interactive product demos make it easier for customers to make a buying decision. Customers are more engaged and can understand key benefits more quickly. You heard it from Forrester and HubSpot—this leads to a better close rate.

See it in action

Want to see examples of sales enablement software that doubles as an interactive product demo?

Check out Advisor or contact us to talk more.

The Essential Employee Onboarding Checklist

There’s a big difference between onboarding and orientation. Yes, they both start with an “O” and are crucial to new hires, but they’re different.

Orientation is a company-centric checklist completed in your new hire’s first week. Onboarding is a job-specific process that creates a confident, engaged and valuable contributor over many months.

So, the question is, does your current onboarding program go beyond the basics of orientation and cover everything your new hires need to get up to speed and productive quickly? To find out, download the Essential Employee Onboarding Checklist. For each checklist item ask yourself, “Is my current onboarding training great, does it need work, or is it non-existent?”

Employee Onboarding Checklist: The Essential Topics for new hire and onboarding training

Topics Included

In the Essential Employee Onboarding Checklist, we cover everything from organizational basics (i.e. company history, vision, and goals) and meeting your new team (because face-to-face time is so critical) to one-to-one checkpoints (yes, that includes mentors and managers) and measuring the effectiveness of your onboarding program.

With 40+ topics, this checklist will inspire you to look at onboarding in a whole new light. Gone are the days of sink or swim for your new hires. Hello, awesome onboarding.

So, What’s Next

After reviewing the Essential Employee Onboarding Checklist and understanding how your current program measures up, you have a few options:

  1. Check out our list of onboarding best practices to help you create or improve your new-hire training on your own,
  2. Learn how we can help your employees reach their A-game faster with a custom onboarding program built just for you, or
  3. Do nothing (warning: not recommended unless your existing onboarding training is already awesome).

Download the Checklist

Remember, orientation isn’t onboarding. Download the Essential Employee Onboarding Checklist to learn what goes into a great onboarding program. Then reach out and let us know how we can help.

Employee Onboarding Best Practices to Reach Your A-Game Faster

You invest time and money recruiting for an open position in your organization. At last: the new hire’s first day. Even if they walk through your doors with industry experience, they are essentially a newbie. How do you ramp them up to speed so they reach their A-game faster?

Following these employee onboarding best practices is a great place to start!

Onboarding Best Practices Hero

Whether your newbie makes $15/hour or $150,000/year, every employee deserves a thorough, informative, and fun onboarding experience. It reflects well on your company and pays off in the long run.

Don’t Confuse Onboarding with Orientation

Yes, they both start with an O and are crucial to new hires, but they’re different.

Orientation is more of a checklist, a company-centric event. Similar for employees in all levels of the organization. Compliance, benefits, emergency contacts. Email, computers, calendars. Orientation is a nuts and bolts activity that ends when all boxes have been ticked.

But post-orientation, let’s say Day 4, is your new hire a fully functional member of the team?

You wish.

That’s where onboarding comes in. Onboarding is a process that (ideally) creates a confident, engaged, and valuable contributor. It’s job-specific, and represents an employee’s path to productivity.

It often lasts longer than we think: from Day 1 until the newbie is a productive, contributing member of the team. That can be 30, 60, 90 days – or up to two years! ‒ depending on job complexity. This period is crucial for new hires. It’s an opportunity for your organization to connect in a meaningful way to help the employee gain confidence in their role, become engaged with the company, and maximize productivity.

So, what are some employee onboarding best practices to help you achieve these objectives? We have some knowledge to share.

Create an Inventory of Knowledge, Skills, and Behaviors

Onboarding should cover the basic knowledge, skills, and behaviors (KSB) necessary for an employee’s specific responsibilities. A best practice is to create an inventory and strategic assessment of the KSB needed for the job – to define the fastest path to productivity.

Much of the early job knowledge training can be experiential, self-paced learning. New employees need info, but can discover it themselves through interactive teaching tools, rather than having someone “teach” them. Unfortunately, thick binders and PowerPoint presentations are the norm in most companies.

But do you really want to be most companies? We didn’t think so. Create high-quality training that engages learners, helps knowledge stick, and streamlines the path to productivity.

Mix it Up with Blended Learning

After identifying training topics that support the required knowledge, skills, and behaviors your new hires need, consider offering engaging content in multiple modalities, to reflect the three types of learning: visual, kinesthetic and auditory.

The trick is to select the learning modality that best aligns with each of the job’s KSB topics.

We all have different learning styles. Blended learning works so well because it touches on each different style, for more comprehensive training. A mash-up of learning modes such as e-learning, instructor-led, interactive workbooks, videos and animations, keeps learners engaged and helps information stick.

Blended learning becomes a new hire training best practice when it combines both the personal engagement of face-to-face training with self-guided learning. Incorporating various styles helps learners consume, retain and apply the knowledge to their jobs.

Increase Speed to Competence

Onboarding is about how efficiently a new hire becomes productive. The longer it takes, the more it costs the organization in lost time and revenue. The goal is to help them hit the break-even point – fast.

We recommend giving new employees enough information to get started in their role as quickly as possible, so they can put what they’ve learned in motion. There’s value in testing new knowledge situationally in their daily work.

But it’s a fine line: don’t let newbies loose before they are competent, or you risk damaging both the organization and their confidence.

New hire onboarding best practices also include on-the-job training and job shadowing, which can hasten productivity.

Make it Social

The best onboarding programs incorporate a high-touch from leadership, which instills in the new employee the importance of their role as viewed from the top. Don’t just leave it to HR: the department manager and team should participate.

According to The Definitive Guide to Onboarding, “56 percent of new employees thought assigning ‘an employee “buddy” or mentor’ was one of the most important things a new employee needs to get up to speed and begin contributing quickly.”

It’s comforting to have a resource who can answer questions along the path to competency.

ATD’s TD magazine describes how employees at Buffer, a social media management tool, get three buddies during their 45-day Buffer Bootcamp: a leader buddy, a role buddy and a culture buddy. We give this well-rounded approach a fist bump.

Meet and greets are another smart way for new hires to expand knowledge while building relationships horizontally and vertically across the organization.

Don’t Ignore Culture

Don’t underestimate the important role company culture plays in onboarding. Not all cultural norms are written; some must be experienced first-hand. There’s a lot more involved than just logging in and working. Are there Friday team lunches? When and where is cell phone use appropriate? What’s the deal with the break room fridge?

Cultural information isn’t always in the training manual, but is crucial to a new hire’s organizational engagement. Sharing beliefs and rituals helps newbies adapt faster.

According to Forbes, “a company’s culture is its only sustainable competitive advantage and should therefore be the centerpiece of its onboarding program.” Because, the most talented people want to work for the most desirable companies. And those talented people will drive your ongoing success.

Follow-up. Reinforce. Validate.

A BambooHR poll respondent suggested a “30-day review . . . [because] when new, you may miss important facts that make sense more once you are acclimated to a new position.”

We couldn’t agree more. Whether Day 30, 60 or 90, when your new hire starts performing their daily tasks, onboarding still isn’t complete. Continued monitoring ensures that behaviors are on-message with company expectations.

In this phase, incorporate a validation component of the training completed so far. Whether a ride-along or deep dive session with a direct manager, assess the new hire’s KSB as reflected in daily job activities. This presents an opportunity for either validation of current KSB level or follow-up with additional training as a course correction, if necessary.

One final action: when your newbie is meeting job quotas, socially engaged with the company, and officially “one of us,” it’s time to get their feedback. Ask for input about their onboarding experience. Where did you nail it? Where could you do better? Their qualitative, first-hand reviews are invaluable.

When onboarding is successful, new hires feel valued, appreciated and warmly welcomed. They know the inside jokes, what’s ok to say, and who it’s ok to say it to. They’re officially on board!

Seek Experienced Guidance

Feeling lost? Think of us as your onboarding best practices GPS: we can guide you. To get started, check out our free Essential Employee Onboarding Checklist.

Aligning KSB with various modalities of learning is our specialty. And we’ve made a splash exploring key training concepts like live action video vs. animation, microlearning and the role humor plays in learning.

We can help you craft a custom onboarding training program to skyrocket your organization’s onboarding quality and efficiency. Our custom training solutions empower newbies to experience your company culture while learning best job practices in an engaging, informative and relevant way. What’s not to love?

What are your company’s onboarding best practices? Share your feedback in the comments below or on Twitter @unboxedtech.

Ready to revolutionize your organization’s onboarding? We’ll make it happen. Let’s chat! (888) 723-9770

BH Media Group Teams with Unboxed to Create New Culture of Learning

BH Media was a rapidly growing organization with a need for formal, streamlined, and company-wide training that could be measured and linked to business and professional growth. Through a partnership with Unboxed Technology, they got the whole package: a custom-created sales methodology, product training, and leadership training, all ready to launch in Spoke—a super-simple, web-based social learning management system.


BH Media logoBH Media is a Berkshire Hathaway company all about community. With 30 daily and over 70 weekly newspapers—including the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Winston-Salem Journal, the Tulsa World and the Omaha World-Herald—they use digital, print, and progressive media solutions to inform and engage readers in their own communities across the nation.


As BH Media acquired a significant number of papers throughout the country, competing processes as well as different cultures, communities, readership, and reach significantly impacted sales. They knew their long-term success depended on providing their busy sales professionals with a simple way to share best practices and sharpen their skills.

BH Media began an exhaustive search and conducted many interviews for the right vendor. “Not only were we looking for training content, but also a way to deliver content,” said Angela Brauer, then Director of Sales and Development.

Ultimately they chose Unboxed for that very reason: the ability to develop a cohesive sales methodology, customized training, and a learning management system to host the new content.

According to Brauer, she and Thom Kastrup, Chief Revenue Officer, knew they were in good hands with Unboxed. They received great advice on what the program should focus on, how the training should roll out, and how trainers should deliver the content.


I feel like we were colleagues and coworkers. It was a really good fit.

With Unboxed’s innovative approach to online learning, expertise in sales training, and ability to create content that brings it all to life, BH Media found their new partner.

Unboxed started a discovery process for the program by conducting ride-alongs in multiple markets and worked with a cross-company team of over 30 ad sales experts, managers, and market leaders to build content that specifically addressed sales professionals’ needs.

The development of the new program proved to be more than a typical client-vendor relationship. “I feel like we were colleagues and coworkers,” Brauer said. “It was a really good fit. And having content development experts was important to the success of the program.”


What resulted was a new sales methodology that defines stages in the sales process (the Great Sales Behaviors) and identifies target areas that drive increased sales for both sales professionals and their respective papers. Program objectives were aimed at prospecting more to increase sales activity, acquire more clients, generate high ad revenue per client, build total revenue, and reduce client churn.

In addition to the sales methodology, Unboxed developed a series of product training eLearnings and training for managers to better coach, support, reinforce, and practice the Great Sales Behaviors with their team. To tie it all together, all the content launched in Spoke, allowing learners to tap into online training materials, engage with other sales professionals, and share best practices in the community.

Training for BH Media

This new training marked the beginning of a culture of learning for BH Media, one that highlighted the investment the company had in their sales professionals. The content changed the way sales teams sell to their clients and taught them how to better care for their customers and sustain long-term relationships with them.

Over the last few years, the company has acquired multiple newspapers that at one time were all separate businesses. They each had unique processes, but now Unboxed is bringing it all together—a profound feat for what Brauer once described as “one three-year-old company made up of a bunch of 100-year-old companies.”

And with Spoke, the company now uses online training to enhance talent acquisition and onboard new hires. Sales professionals communicate across markets and share best practices with colleagues. They can even use Spoke alongside existing sales tools such as Salesforce and Chatter to tie training and community to customer relationship management.


The best onboarding training I’ve ever seen.

The program has been in place for over a year. A survey taken from training sessions spanning BH Media markets across the country and hundreds of participants demonstrated near-unanimous satisfaction with the new sales training and course materials:

  • 98% agreed and strongly agreed that the content was immediately useful and applicable within the following 30 days after the training.
  • 99% agreed and strongly agreed that the course materials were helpful and met the intended objectives of the training.
  • 98% agreed and strongly agreed when asked if they would recommend the course to others.

Participants freely offered additional feedback about the training:

  • “The best onboarding training I’ve ever seen.” (Hickory, NC)
  • “Although I’ve been selling advertising for several years, I learned [so] much useful information that [I’ve] already incorporated into my daily activities.” (Bryan-College Station, TX)
  • “This was one of the most comprehensive classes I have had in any industry. More relevant to our daily jobs than any other training session.” (Kearney, NE)

Since the initial rollout, BH Media and Unboxed Technology continue to develop new content, witness an increase in cross-market alignment, and expand the use of Spoke’s social component.

“We were thrilled with the outcome,” Brauer said. “With great new content in Spoke, we now have a program we can build upon and use for many years. We don’t have to send our people away to another company for training. They’re trained by us.”