Orientation topics that can be covered online (and those that cannot)

09 May 2018

Nowadays companies have the option of online or offline delivery for orientation training, although many choose a blended approach whereby employees are advised of policies and procedures via online learning and interactive, face-to-face training is used for more complex or riskier type topics.


Good orientation training can confirm that an employee will feel happier and more confident in their role within a shorter period of time. Already being aware of health and safety measures, the building plan, vacation and sickness arrangements, as well as the company goals and philosophy will allow them to begin their job faster, with less dependence on other employees.

A range of different topics may apply to a particular employee and the needs of the company, often using a combination of training methods. But which of these subjects need to be explored in person and which ones can be taught using the up-to-date style of online training?


The Blended Learning Approach to Orientations

Apart from online orientation courses, other methods include classroom training, face-to-face techniques such as group discussions with other employees, as well as hands-on training using certain equipment or machinery.

The blended learning approach is the use of more than one training method to suit different positions or topics. A recent study carried out by the University of Tennessee revealed that a blended learning program reduced both the time spent and cost of training by over 50%. After online orientation training is completed, the company will be aware of the base level of knowledge held by each new member of staff, therefore they can concentrate on elements such as practical demonstrations or case studies from the beginning.


Positive Aspects of Online Orientations

  • Topics can be organized into a small set of modules to complete at the worker’s own pace at any time that suits.
  • Worker’s arrive on day one pre-oriented with a standardised base-line knowledge of the company culture, HR procedures and safety rules
  • Assignments completed and the results of quizzes taken can be easily tracked and organized, allowing the success of this training to be examined.
  • Travel expenses and the cost of room rental are removed


Positive Aspects of Face-to-face/Hands-On training

  • People are more likely to remain engaged throughout, without multi-tasking.
  • Questions can be asked and will be answered on the spot.
  • New equipment or physical techniques relevant to the job can be practised, allowing trainers to immediately decide whether the new skill has been learned.
  • Small group discussions are a good way for staff to pass on information to new employees, making them feel more relaxed and less intimidated when they begin.


But which topics can be covered online and which require face-to-face training?

Different industries train employees in different topics but there are some common sense questions to ask yourself when making the ‘online / offline’ decision.


  1. Does the orientation training topic refer to a piece of equipment or a product? It may be preferable to take a ‘hands-on’ approach in this scenario.
  2. How high-risk is the topic? Many Health & Safety topics include lots of rules and policies, but it’s very important that the learner fully understands what they’re being taught. Online is beneficial here as you can standardize the training, but some on-the-job training may enhance the knowledge.
  3. Do your managers actually have time to do face-to-face training? If your managers are under too much pressure to manage face-to-face orientations, could you achieve the same message with an online video? This is a much more scalable approach.


Producing a Successful Orientation

The one major take-away from this article is that orientation training should be well planned out and characterized by whether it can be taught online or if a human is required.

Don’t have your workers sitting in a room listening to a well-paid, highly educated member of staff ream off lists and rules. Save these moments for interactive, fun orientation which give new hires a flavor of what the company is all about!

And don’t forget – orientation training content and methods should be kept up to date based on the latest working policies or any recent changes such as employment law, tax or health and safety measures.


Conor McNally, GoContractor

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