The Way I See It ... Crafting the Perfect Induction

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This week Brightwave's James Cory-Wright, Head of Learning Design shares his ideas on how to get off to the right start with a new employee.

A successful employee-employer relationship often depends upon how a new employee settles into their job to start with.

"Most labour turnover is among new employees, and work efficiency is reached only after a period of learning and adjusting to the new environment," according to the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS).

So what contribution can technology make to achieving successful induction and, crucially, as the job progresses?

Before starting:
The new starter is arguably as motivated as they'll ever be - hungry for information and a feel for their new organisation and for reassurance and endorsement of the decision they've made to join.

In the first instance, how about some positive messages about your organisation – even before the interview? Broadband provider Bulldog recently developed a vibrant 45 second animated trailer that endorses the individual’s interest in Bulldog and positions the company as an exciting career option.

Online communication pieces are excellent for informing, forewarning, promoting and creating interest, whether at the point of induction or further into the job.

And instead of the usual 'information' or 'starter' pack sent out with the invitation to interview or the job offer, a short interactive module can communicate key facts, give a flavour of your organisation that paints the bigger picture as well as providing links to supporting information etc.

First days in the job:
ACAS advise the following: "A good reception, with the line or personnel manager spending time with the new employee, is important on the first day … and of course enough information to give the new starter a good grasp of the working practices of the organisation. Any particular health and safety requirements should be made known."

Online packages are ideal when you need to provide a consistently high quality induction to people all around the world. Perhaps the point here is, in content terms, that online induction courses should not be thought of as one-offs, but as ongoing online materials. And there are other considerations of a more holistic nature.

E-learning does not have to be the whole story. The new starter's line manager is likely to be essential. Not only in terms of their input – especially the local support - but also their buy-into, what for some, may be a new way of training.

You might also want to consider developing e-learning to support the 'buddy' who may be assigned – say a short 10-15 minute module. Being a buddy can, in itself, represent a developmental activity, and can be supported by a coaching and mentoring programme.

Compliance is inextricably linked with induction. E-learning is ideal because the content is compulsory, stable, factual and well served by the visual dimension (graphics, photographs, animations, video etc.) that e-learning offers.

Diversity and equality is an emotive and an important subject, and one where organisation policy in paper form or on the intranet is not enough. It's a state of mind as much anything else.

Several professional services organisations have recognised this in developing 20 minute e-learning modules with hard hitting dramatised video sequences to get the message across, reinforcing values and changing attitudes where necessary. They don’t' have to be video, but it helps.

There are often critical and vital compliances issues too when it comes to data protection and IT security. The e-learning module needn't be long –10 minutes could be sufficient but it is important to have learning in these sorts of areas. And only fair to new starters to ensure they're aware of such key areas of compliance.

Sustainability is also coming to the fore and will continue to do so as companies move to become carbon neutral, to save energy and become more environmentally friendly etc. On a practical level much can be achieved simply by adopting good habits. So why not train them? And, if the company has a sustainability policy, shouldn't people be aware of it so they can spread the word to customers, colleagues and friends?

Weeks and months into the job:
New employees may need some immediate IT training such as how to use a key computer system, or concerning business procedures related to systems. E-learning gives the newcomer a chance to see how things are done before trying out the system on their own, within a safe environment.

And as part of an ongoing learning strategy, bite-sized tutorials can be developed and rolled out as you need them. They can also double up as ongoing performance support.

Again bite-sized online 'tools' – easily available on the computer desktop can be very useful and are usually just a click or two away. For example with interactive process flows you can click on for more information about each stage.

Conclusion:
So what is the moral of the story? I suppose what we're saying is that when it comes to using e-learning as way of delivering induction, there are more opportunities than at first glance.

Online learning can be used more holistically to train a wider range of key subjects needed to be covered before, during and after the immediate induction.

  • To start with consider communication – animated online trailers, teasers, podcasts, etc to convey key messages before, during and after.
  • Tap into the new starter's motivation before they start with a pre-start module.
  • Support the main e-learning induction with a manager's module.
  • Develop complimentary mini modules on key compliance issues such as health and safety, diversity, age discrimination, accessibility, IT security and data protection etc.
  • Support performance with online tools such as process flows, top tips and learning wizards.

So why not pull all these great things together in your own organisation and deliver the ultimate, visionary, induction programme?

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