7 essential elements for online onboarding (software)


Return to overview

7 essential elements for online onboarding (software)

  • Reading time: 4 minutes

Written by Indyra Olivier

Customer Success Coach

In the search for talent, good online onboarding is crucial. It guarantees a smooth integration process of new employees. As a company, you naturally want well-trained and loyal staff, who really contribute to your corporate mission. That is why companies are putting more and more energy into the onboarding training of their employees.

What is onboarding?

Onboarding is welcoming new employees with the information they need to get started with their new job. Think of practical things like: where can I get coffee? Where are the entrances and exits to the building? All the way to essentials like safety rules or how certain devices work. So an onboarding can be very comprehensive.

It is a crucial stage of the employee lifecycle because it sets the tone for their experience with the company and has a significant impact on their long-term success in the role. Research has shown that effective onboarding programs can lead to higher levels of job satisfaction, greater employee engagement, and lower turnover rates.

Why is online onboarding so important?

As mentioned before, good onboarding training guarantees a smooth integration process of new employees. Knowing the basics about the company and what a regular day looks like. From the coffee corner to how to leave the building when working late: a good onboarding gives structure and guidance to feel more comfortable within the new position.

Current trends in onboarding strive for effectiveness and efficiency by using blended learning solutions that bring together web-based training, documents, face-to-face interaction, and team-based activities. Employers have learned to focus on what can be of immediate value to the business and prioritize what info is needed first for a new hire to get up to speed as soon as possible. This information is best split up in small chunks and distributed through microlearning. Onboarding should not be limited to a short period of time but lead to continuous learning. It is important to teach new employees where and how they can find new knowledge, how they can build up skills, how they can communicate and work together with others, etc.

Pro tip: Keep in mind, the first day is an overload of new impressions and information. Not all information should be shoved in their faces right away. An overload of information often leads to not everything being remembered. Think about structuring your content over a period of time that makes sense in the trajectory of the new employee.

What is the advantage of providing an online onboarding?

An online onboarding ensures that everyone receives the same information, so that the person giving the onboarding – being HR, L&D or an employee with long service – is spared having to give the same explanation more than once. And what’s more, the new employee can always fall back on this online source of information.

Advantages for the new employee:

  • Online modules can be completed at their own pace
  • Starting a new job well prepared
  • Follow the e-Learning on every device, anywhere and anytime
  • Playful and interactive
  • One central location with all information which they can return to
  • The right information at the right time, not receiving an overload of information from the start


Advantages for who has to offer the online onboarding:

  • Everyone will be up to speed with the regulation, thing about safety rules in the industrial sector
  • New hires get excited for their first day by providing teasers of the workplace even before they started
  • Employees can get personalized information depending on the job
  • It saves time, not everything need to be explained in person, you’ll receive less questions and can spend your time more efficiently
  • It’s possible to ask anonymous feedback or see overall trends in the data of new hires

Remote onboarding

Working on location is no longer necessary. You may be hiring employees who live on the other side of the world. There’s a good chance you’ve only met these people digitally and may never see them in person. It is also important for these people to receive a warm welcome. This can of course be done with introductions via Teams or Zoom, but also with an online learning environment, such as FLOWSPARKS. This is how to make remote onboarding a success.


Pro tip: Remote onboarding can also be used with employees before the start of their first working day. Think of warehouse employees. It can be useful for them to already know the location or safety rules. By already giving these new employees access to certain modules in an onboarding program, they are sure to get off to a good start. 

What are the 7 elements for online onboarding?

Let’s get some misconceptions out of the way before digging into the essential elements. If you believe online onboarding is impersonal, then this is your wake-up call: NO, online onboarding is not impersonal! Online onboarding gives you the time to really get to know the person that is starting at your company. It saves you from the practical – but necessary – information and hands you the time to have proper quality time. There is just way too much going on the first days. The new employee will be happy to know that he/she doesn’t have to process all this new information at once.

So, let’s dive into what really matters and share with you what’s essential when building an online onboarding module.

#1 Go for a personal introduction

Give new employees a personal welcome and focus on the new position. An important task for the employer is making sure that tasks and expectations are clear from day one. Start off with a good introduction, not only focusing on the new employee but also explaining who is giving this onboarding. Share who you are, what you do and how you can be of service to the newbie. An example:

Hi Thomas, welcome to FLOWSPARKS!

My name is Tina, I’ve been the HR Manager for over 3 years now. This means I’m your single point of contact when it comes to your payroll, holidays, employee satisfaction, or to share a cup of coffee. I’m 34 and have 1 daughter, Lisa. I live outside of the City center of San Francisco and enjoy my Monday evening Yoga sessions in a nearby yoga center. Enough about me, let’s get you the right information to get started at our company smoothly.  

An employer can take this even a step further and discuss the new employee’s ambitions and career opportunities early on. This kind of personalization works on different levels.


#2 Get them around the office

Now it’s time to step inside the company walls: What does a new employee need to know before the first day at work? Give them a digital tour of the building through a floor plan or walk-through video. It’s things like this that will put them at ease faster on the first day. And this can go a long way:

  • How to get to the office by car, bike, or public transportation?
  • Where can they park their car?
  • How to enter the building?
  • What if you’re working late and must close the office last?
  • What if you’re starting early and the doors are still closed?
  • Where do you lunch? Are there some policies about this?
  • What are the availabilities for coffee, refrigerator, or maybe a bakery nearby?


Talk about the weekly team meetings, monthly team builds, or annual company parties that you organize. Is there occasional cooking for the whole team? Or do you regularly provide snacks and drinks after work? This shows the core of your company culture and will undoubtedly have a positive effect on your new employee.

Pro tip: This is a good part of the onboarding course but will also positively affect the recruitment procedure. Make sure to introduce the company culture and side activities during this process, this will give potential hires an idea whether they’ll fit in.  

#3 Take away some initial concerns

Every company works differently, and when starting with a new job, you always must find your way through these workflows. Use online onboarding to take away some initial concerns. This could be a general module explaining where to address a specific problem or topic about welfare and health, HR, ICT and internal or external communication. Think of vacation requests, salary questions, what to do in case of illness or a work accident or who to turn to when things are not going well.

Also think about practicalities of working from home, where you can go from questions about IT to a manual: “How do I set up my home office?”. It’s no secret that this has become more and more important over the past years.

Pro tip: If employees can – or must – work from home, it’s important to show you still care about their work environment. You can support them with non-statutory benefits, but I’m fully convinced everyone would benefit from an ergonomics course explaining how they can create the most productive working environment at home.  

#4 Gather all the information you need from the new employee

Gathering information is a convenient preparation for your employee, but also for HR it’s an easy way to collect all necessary information. This can be done in an online module with open questions. This way it can’t get lost in your email database, and you can always fall back on the data in the module.

Pro tip: Yes, I recommend a digital onboarding course, but some things are just better done in person. Deliver all the necessary content but also make time to get to know your new team member, outside of work I mean. Things like hobbies, pets, passions, and characteristics are a nice extra. And with this info, you can be the intermediary to help your colleagues find a lead for a first conversation.  

#5 Low threshold: make legal information interactive

Let’s face it, no one likes to delve into employment conditions, policy regulations or compliance guidelines, but this information is very important. Online onboarding is the perfect way to get around this dry information with interaction. But how do you turn such legal data into interactive content?

Outline the situations you wish your employees would make the right decisions about. For example, you are offered a bottle of champagne by one of the customers, what is the right action according to the company’s code of ethics? You turn the tables by starting from the situation.

Employees actively engage with this situation, and thus the information will stick better than with a continuous text full of legal terms.


#6 Provide job specific information

All the aspects I’ve covered so far can be defined as generic modules. The information is mostly the same for every employee, no matter what department they work in. Going on with this list of essentials I am taking a turn towards specific modules: the ones that contain specific information on the department the new employee will work.

For the general content you can provide them with a checklist of modules that need to be seen or topics that need to be discussed. As for the specific topics, you can get around with even smaller modules for example to explain how to look up information in a specific program.

#7 Introduce the colleagues

This can be part of your generic modules or depending on the size of your company be a specific module for one department. Let your new employee meet the colleagues. Specifically in a larger company, this can be a nice extra to feel at ease faster.


There are many different and interactive ways how to set this up. It can be turned into a game, having to match the job function to the picture, or more laid back like a short video of every employee introducing themselves. This can be a fun way to learn who your go-to-person is in case you have a specific question. It can melt the ice for a first conversation. Think about it, standing at the coffee corner, first time talking to a new colleague and already knowing they have a same interest for music, practice a hobby that intrigues you, or simply knowing what they do inside the company. Now that’s what makes smooth conversation!

Pro tip: In time, also think about a preboarding module. This is perfect to send after a first interview and gives the candidate a clear insight into your organization at that point. This can help the person decide whether they want to accept the job offer and whether they fit in with the company culture. Read: sharing side activities.  

Do I need special software for online onboarding?

This depends on the software tools your organization is already using and your wishes. There are special onboarding software tools with features like: sending notifications to IT, a social media timeline, calendars and document signing. If you want to focus more on the training of new employees and their position, a learning platform like an authoring tool can be the perfect fit.

Online learning platforms make it easier to provide digital learning modules for onboarding. They also make it possible to track the progress and performance of new hires through reporting. Both quantitative and qualitative data becomes available and can be compared to engagement levels. This insight can help employers to improve and customize the content that they offer to their new employees. This aspect isn’t limited to the early onboarding stages but can be continued to better understand the skills and performances of new people within the company.

Watch the webinar: Remote onboarding with e-Learning

You can only make a first impression once! A fluent, professional, customized, and clear onboarding process will definitely impress your new employees. But creating a great start for your employees is already challenging enough, let alone having to do it remotely. Watch the webinar and find out how e-Learning can help you to set up a remote and digital onboarding process.

Webinar: Remote onboarding with e-Learning