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Marcello Sambartolo

Workforce Software

Marketing manager

Read more from Marcello Sambartolo

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How to strengthen L&D among new employees


New hires starting at work? Read on for some L&D tips from Marcello Sambartolo.

L&D professionals are increasingly being asked to support the recruitment function, helping to ensure that each new hire is equipped for success in his or her role. In order to streamline this process and ensure consistency across all departments, many organisations are turning to workforce management solutions to automate onboarding and facilitate the mastery of critical knowledge through scheduled coursework, apprentice models and cross-functional training opportunities. Let’s explore the benefits of each approach, along with examples of how employers across multiple industries are using these strategies to prepare new hires for success in their first 90 days.

A shifting paradigm

Consider everything that a new hire needs to learn, from organisational policies and procedures to their actual day-to-day job functions. Who ensures that these learning opportunities take place and, even more importantly, that employees retain that knowledge over time? While HR professionals have long been responsible for these tasks, leading organisations are increasingly involving the expertise of L&D in this process.

900 organisations were recently surveyed to learn more about workforce management processes and their impact. One of the trends that emerged was the practice of aligning scheduling with onboarding in order to more fully prepare employees for success on the job. In fact, 89% of respondents indicated that they currently use scheduling to train and equip new hires or want to in the future [1].  While this can be accomplished through a variety of methods, three practices emerged as being most prevalent: the use of scheduled learning, apprentice models and cross-functional training.

Scheduled learning

Assigning required coursework through employee scheduling helps equip new hires for success through just-in-time learning. For example, a new employee might be required to attend a three-day instructor-led training for all new staff, while also working independently on several elearning courses that are specific to his or her job function. This helps employees receive the training they need when they need it. Using scheduling to assign coursework over a period of weeks, or even months, also allows new hires to build cumulative knowledge and develop proficiencies in their role more quickly - generating greater productivity for the organisation.

Automatically assigning courses through scheduling also dramatically streamlines tracking - which is especially important in highly regulated industries. According to the results of the survey, three-quarters of survey respondents from energy and utilities companies already use scheduling to require new hires to participate in training courses, compared with 49% of all survey respondents. Other industries where this practice is more common than average include healthcare and financial services (58 and 57% respectively). Notably, these industries are also highly regulated and may have an increased need to document employees’ mastery of various concepts, specifically around policies and procedures related to compliance, public safety and data security.

Apprentice models

Using this approach, new employees are scheduled to work alongside supervisors, managers or exemplary peers. This practice prepares novice employees with practical, hands-on instruction and one-on-one guidance while also ensuring that critical 'tribal knowledge' is systematically passed on from employee to employee. For many, an added benefit is the opportunity to develop positive relationships among workers which helps new hires assimilate to the organisational culture.

According to the results of the survey, this practice peaked most notably in the manufacturing industry, at 75%. Respondents from healthcare (69%) and financial services (62%) also use this approach to train and equip new hires. In all three of these industries, it is especially important for new hires to understand and practice established procedures. Using scheduling to have your newest employees shadow experienced veterans reinforces behaviours that uphold the highest safely and security protocols - ultimately protecting workers, the public and the organisation.

Cross-functional training

Yet another model for using workforce management solutions to schedule learning experiences involves the development of a rotating, cross-functional schedule for new workers. For example, new hires might automatically be scheduled to spend several shifts, days, or even weeks shadowing supervisors or high-performing employees from other departments. According to survey results, this practice appears to be used more frequently by energy and utility companies (42%), followed by manufacturing (39%) and retail/hospitality (31%).

Here again, these are industries where understanding the bigger picture can help to reinforce disciplines that might otherwise be overlooked by new employees. Scheduling new hires to shadow peers in other departments helps to ensure that newer employees understand how diverse roles within the organisation complement, and even depend on, one another for optimal performance - fostering a culture where distinct departments within the organisation are naturally motivated to work together toward common goals.


The responsibility of preparing new hires for success on the job no longer falls exclusively to HR. More leading organisations are including L&D professionals in the development of onboarding exercises and learning opportunities. Scheduled learning, apprentice models and cross-functional training are all examples of strategic, planned learning that can be automatically assigned to new hires through a flexible, robust workforce management solution. The result is an approach that not only prepares new hires with meaningful learning opportunities, but also boosts productivity and streamlines compliance for organisations that need to demonstrate employees’ completion of required courses.

[1] Workforce Management Trend Survey: 2014-2015

Marcello Sambartolo is UK country marketing manager for WorkForce Software

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Marcello Sambartolo

Marketing manager

Read more from Marcello Sambartolo

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