Tips for getting the most from online induction
The ability to onboard people online is just one of the myriad advantages the digital realm has brought us. The scope and access it affords for online induction are far beyond anything available even a decade ago. But as Spider Man’s Uncle Ben once said: ‘With great power comes great responsibility’. So it’s important you use yours well. Here’s 10 tips for getting the most out of it.
- First up comes the biggie – don’t overload new staff with too much information at once. Just because you can put 15 videos in an online induction, doesn’t mean you should. After all, it’s about taking advantage of the opportunity to present information in interesting and manageable ways – regardless of where staff are – without overwhelming them before they’ve even logged on for their first shift.
- Another worthwhile idea is to build a few lighter moments into the process. If you think about, fun isn’t the first thing that normally comes to mind when you think of online induction, but small touches of humour can be a good thing. For example, one manager we know of in a small company used a picture of his dog dressed up as Santa Claus as the last slide of online induction introduction. Was it relevant? Definitely not. Would it work in all companies? Again, definitely not. But did it end things with a smile? Absolutely. And given the concentration required for some of the material they were about to dive into, that’s not a bad thing.
- This one probably applies most to remote staff, but it’s worth remembering for all new staff – that you need to make sure you don’t leave them to onboard in isolation. It might be tempting to just drop them an email with details of how to log on to the induction system, and leave them to it, but you wouldn’t do that to on-site staff so you shouldn’t do it to remotes. The whole point of onboarding is to make them feel like a valued member of the team, and if face-to-face contact isn’t possible, then phone calls to check in on them, to get their feedback and to answer any follow-up questions they may have are crucial.
- Another useful practice is to give new employees follow-up contacts. As we’ve discussed before, induction and the sheer amount of information new hires need to take in can be overwhelming. So give them a resource with contacts for further information who can flesh out or clarify anything they may have missed. It could be as simple as giving the new employee an appropriate name and number at the end of a video or podcast or just having a sheet of searchable contacts online.
- Something else to remember when you’re covering the big picture stuff, is to try to focus beyond just the nuts and bolts of the company. Instead, give them the full picture, including how staff navigate and interact. For example, you could do a GoPro tour of the office to help boost their familiarity with the layout – and with finding key areas such as the coffee machine. You could also highlight any social or sporting clubs that operate, or give details of discounts available to employees. It’s all about adding a little colour and personality to the dryness that can necessarily be workplace health and safety, or network security.
- If you can, make use of available technology and incorporate your instant messaging system into the induction, along with readymade access to the new staffer’s best contact or contacts. After all, it can be time consuming and formal to send an email, make a phone call or hit someone up in person, and often, you want to ask a question while you’re at a point in the information flow that needs context. So an IM allows for a quick and friendly information request that staff on the contact list should also be briefed to handle with respect.
- On the same lines, look to incorporate social media in your training. By this we don’t mean directing the employee to a day of cat videos, but instead, it’s about remembering there’s a lot of great information available through avenues such as YouTube. True, the key facets of your induction must be unique to the company, but if you remember that it’s an ongoing process, you might find a little bit down the track that it’s helpful to have staffers tap into everything from online training videos to podcasts that talk about chasing sales leads.
- Similar to this idea of a full complement of education, part of the onboarding process is to make sure you fill in any knowledge gaps as they go. After all, everyone learns in different ways, so you might find people come through the initial induction process feeling a bit lacking in comprehension or understanding of certain topics. So build the question: ‘Is there anything you need more information on?’ into the end of every unit or session, having already let them know it’s a good thing to have questions. After all, wouldn’t you rather have an employee who can recognise their knowledge gaps and act on them, instead of someone who pretends to have everything on board, but then falters down the track.
- Still on big picture perspectives, something else you need to do is be thorough in outlining the company’s values and culture – and that means making sure you cover stuff that will excite new staff, as well as stuff that might do so a little less. For example, if the company supplies a cake whenever there’s a birthday, mention that. It’s all about letting them know the personality and expectations of the company they’ve joined.
- Finally, if you can, incorporate case studies into induction training to illustrate performance expectations. For example, if there’s certain core messages that need to be included in a sales pitch, have a video that shows an example, including strategies for getting back on message when the potential customers veers off. It’s all part of remembering that the hows, as well as the whats, of a job are equally important.