Employer Branding

Tailoring Your Onboarding Strategy for Different Types of Learners

Let’s face it… in the war for talent, it’s a candidate’s market. While unemployment figures remain high, employers looking for candidates with unique and hard-to-find skill sets will always know the ideal candidate’s value to their company, and the monetary losses they face if the job goes unfilled. The impetus then falls on the employer to ensure that once those choice candidates are found, they want to stay.

The onboarding process plays an important part in assimilating new employees into the company. This is when new hires learn about the company, its employees, culture, products, processes and where they fit in. Failing to convey the right information, bring the new employee up to speed and make them feel welcome can be the difference in them flourishing with the company for years to come, or being onboarded by another company a few weeks later.

While your onboarding process may be comprehensive and cover all the bases, not every candidate learns the same way. As if management’s job isn’t difficult enough, employers must ensure they’re reaching each new hire, regardless of their learning style. Delivering the right information isn’t sufficient; how it’s delivered can determine whether or not it reaches its intended audience. Let’s look at the different learning styles and how, in the case of new employees, each will most effectively process information.

Visual Learners

Visual learners learn by seeing and visualizing ideas and relationships. These employees will benefit most from charts, diagrams and photos in a PowerPoint presentation incorporated into your onboarding process. Any handouts you provide will also be useful, as visual learners may be inclined to circle, highlight or otherwise mark up anything of importance in order to remember it. On the other hand, these individuals will be least responsive to listen-and-respond situations.

Auditory Learners

Auditory learners process information by hearing it, and often repeating it to themselves or others. These new hires will benefit from lectures, storytelling or word association – anything that involves listening. Also, following up with a group discussion or question-and-answer session will further allow them to excel. This type of learner, however, will not respond as well to visual presentations and notes.

Reading / Writing Learners

This group of learners is self-explanatory. They learn best not when seeing or hearing, but when interacting with the information by reading or writing it. While information may be introduced in visual or verbal form, reading/writing learners will internalize it if given a handout in advance so they may follow along with the presenter, or if given a quiz or questionnaire after the presentation. Even without these, they will most likely take extensive notes throughout the onboarding process.

Kinesthetic Learners

Kinesthetic learners learn by doing. They’re not satisfied sitting and watching or listening; they want to experience the information. These new hires will get restless quickly in lengthy presentations. They will benefit most from touring the office, participating in group activities and challenges, shadowing other employees and throwing themselves into the mix to discover their role in how the company functions. Benjamin Franklin once said, “Tell me and I’ll forget. Show me and I may remember. Involve me and I’ll learn.” He was obviously a kinesthetic learner.

For new employees, the learning curve starts the minute they begin the onboarding process on day one. For employers, however, there’s no way of telling how each new employee most effectively processes new information. Therefore, it’s necessary to ensure that employers reach all learning types with their onboarding message. Employers who recognize the different ways in which individuals learn and process info will eventually see results in the form of a shorter onboarding process and a quicker ramp-up time leading to employee productivity.

Image: Shutterstock

By John Feldmann

John Feldmann is a Senior Communications Specialist for Insperity in Houston, TX. With over a decade of marketing and employment branding experience in the recruiting and human resources industries, John specializes in employment- and HR-related content development for a variety of media types in order to communicate Insperity's brand to both business professionals and job seekers. Follow John on X @John_Feldmann.