Looking at the big picture, optimizing new-hire training is about minimizing ramp time. In other words, the quicker your new hires complete training and contribute to the work that needs to get done, the better. In order for key business objectives to be met and exceeded, however, you need to address the new-job learning curve. What can you do to shorten it?
To accomplish this, human resources has to manage the balancing act of personalizing the experience without going overboard. This is less intensive than it sounds, since there are some steps that apply to everyone, such as mixing in some face-to-face time with training as well as encouraging communication.
New-hire training for all employees:
First, make sure that deadlines are clearly presented. If new hires know when they are expected to start contributing, they can wrap their heads around a timeframe for learning how to do so. At the same time, be transparent about what you hope they can achieve in the long term as well. By asking their managers to create a rudimentary checklist of what they should accomplish by the end of the quarter, they'll have a clear idea of what resources they should seek to get started.
Also for all new hires, you should be catalyzing team bonding. Ask managers to take a new hire out to lunch or order takeout for an entire team, enabling its members to take a break and get to know their new colleague. The quicker a new hire realizes his or her fellow employees are approachable resources, the quicker he or she will use them as such, and the quicker jobs will get done.
And, of course, set up all new hires with the educational tools they can use to their advantage. You can't be present to do all the training yourself, nor can the new employee's direct managers. Training someone in all aspects of a new job can take a lot of time, and unless you can come to a full stop for the next few days, you'll need some help. A learning dashboard can solve this problem while also encouraging the new employee to be self-sufficient. Set up a series of learning material geared toward software and established processes. This way, your new hire can interact with the material on his or her own schedule and you can be sure that nothing is forgotten.
For employees in business departments, such as marketing or sales:
This category concerns the employees who have the most direct effect on your revenue. Because of this, you need to get them off the ground and running quickly. Make sure their team leaders are holding meetings to explain and discuss business strategies and expectations, while also providing them with a series of videos that cover specific tasks. For example, since these employees will likely be creating presentations and documents for external sources, they should be using corporate templates and maintaining consistent messaging with the organization's vision. Since there are tools in several applications that can help them in this effort, set them up with explanatory videos, such as this one for using the AutoText and Building Blocks functions in MS Word. This way they can get to work as speedily as possible.
For employees in supporting departments, such as IT, HR, accounting or legal:
As with all new hires, the sooner these employees are up to speed, the sooner they can provide value to your business and assist others where help is needed. Review organizational processes and software programs with a video series, demonstrating tasks one at a time. The employees can then spend shorter amounts of time reviewing them as the tasks come up organically. Then, since so many of these departments work within overarching rules concerning static issues such as compliance, hold live webinars so they can ask direct questions. In doing so, you're ensuring your company's policies are understood across branches.