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Case Study on Transforming Instructor-Led Induction and Onboarding Training to a Virtual Mode

December 9, 2020 | By Asha Pandey

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Case Study on Transforming Instructor-Led Induction and Onboarding Training to a Virtual Mode

Due to the pandemic, businesses are moving their induction and onboarding training to a virtual mode. In this article, I use a case study to show you how you can effectively handle this transition and create highly immersive learning experiences.

The conventional face-to-face approach to offer induction and onboarding training is normally the approach most organizations opt for. This is of high impact, and the human touch goes a long way in aiding new employees to learn the organization culture, its value proposition, and how they can play their role very effectively.

Why Is It Imperative to Transition to a Virtual Induction and Onboarding Training?

Given the changed workplace dynamics, organizations must consider moving their classroom-based induction and onboarding training to a virtual mode.

Besides the COVID-19 trigger, there are several other reasons that should help you decide on a virtual delivery of your induction and onboarding training.

  1. Online training gives new employees higher control in pacing the learning and internalizing it.
  2. It enables them to handle the cognitive overload and access online resources, as and when needed and as many times as required.
  3. It enables organizations to induct and onboard employees quicker, through eLearning for the most part, while leaving in-person components of the induction and onboarding training delivery to the ILT/VILT mode.
  4. It provides cost savings and flexibility to organizations to opt for a fully online or a blend of online and facilitated sessions to deliver the induction and onboarding training.

What Are the Options to Create Virtual Induction and Onboarding Trainings?

There are two options to create virtual induction and onboarding trainings.

  1. Blended learning 2.0 or the blended 2.0 mode: A median offering of the two modes, VILT sessions with self-paced online learning, blended learning 2.0 is emerging as the preferred and optimal mode for delivering induction and onboarding training. The employees gain key skills that help them in the performance of their responsibilities by retaining partial human touch – even in a completely virtual mode.
  2. Fully online, self-paced learning (mobile learning): Progressively, organizations are opting for a mobile learning based approach for their employee induction and onboarding trainings. The delivery of high-impact trainings can be taken on the go and this approach enables the offering of a personalized learning path to induct and onboard new team members efficiently and quickly.

Case Study – On Transition of a Face-to-face Induction and Onboarding Training to a Virtual (Blended 2.0) Mode

I now showcase an induction and onboarding case study that illustrates the evolution of our own induction and onboarding training – from a traditional, classroom-based ILT mode to a fully virtual – blended 2.0 mode in the post-COVID time.

Before – Classroom-based ILT Delivery

Like most organizations, our legacy induction and onboarding training was a traditional Instructor-Led Training (ILT). This ran over a month-long window and featured 13 instructor-led sessions. A few years ago, we transitioned to a blended mode. The combination of ILT sessions (as per the initial format) and mobile learning was introduced.

Post COVID-19 – Blended 2.0 (Fully Virtual Delivery)

Post the lockdown triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, we stepped up our hiring to address the higher demand for virtual training, and ‘joining-from-home’ became the new normal.

These changed workplace dynamics called for a system wherein induction and onboarding is not bound by space, time, people, and pace.

Fortunately, we were ready with our innovative induction and onboarding training much before the global workplace dynamics changed. The online training made it easy for us to onboard employees smoothly while ensuring the desired mandate.

We now transitioned from a blended mode to blended 2.0 mode – going fully virtual. As we transitioned from ILT to blended and subsequently to a blended 2.0 mode, our focus was on:

Offering Engaging and Immersive Experiences

The most important consideration was to make induction an engaging and immersive experience for the new joinees. The aim was to not only provide information but also pique their interest and motivation levels.

We opted for mobile learning based delivery that offered a personalized learning journey.

We retained the instructor-led sessions (all 13 of the the original training) but brought in various VILT formats to handle them. This included variants like flipped classroom and usage of tools to accomplish similar collaboration, interaction, and participation as the classroom sessions.

Solution Highlights

  • This training features a multi-level gamified learning journey with over 22 microlearning formats to depict content that is deployed via a portal.
  • New joinees are given access to the portal on the day of joining. The training spans across 4 weeks, which gives them enough time to absorb the information.
  • The learning journey features microlearning nuggets using different formats such as videos, PDFs, activities, virtual reality tours, interactive learning, downloadable infographics, and so on.
  • Social learning is promoted through visual leaderboards with features such as comments for individual assets.
  • Collaboration happens between different new joinees through a single portal ensuring constant engagement, motivation through challenges, and a master assessment unlocked through a treasure hunt game.
  • To add the human touch, the training incorporates facilitated sessions by different leadership and functional head groups.

Designing for Scalability

Growing organizations thrive on agility and dynamism. The induction and onboarding training therefore required flexibility to scale, modify, or upgrade with minimal changes. A robust framework (that could be quickly updated to our evolving needs) and a well-thought-through instructional and visual approach ensured the desired scalability.

Focusing on Time-to-productivity and the Return on Investment (ROI)

A crucial concept in induction and onboarding trainings is time-to-productivity.

While the induction and onboarding training needs to be engaging and immersive, it should aid the new hires in contributing productively within the stipulated duration.

We established the time-to-productivity metrics for all levels of employees. The online assessments (that validate the combined learning of self-paced and facilitated sessions) gave us good cues if the new inductees were ready to move into their role and start contributing to the domain and org goals.

Impact: In the first quarter itself, we achieved 92% of the goals (on time-to-productivity), creating a sound ROI on our trainig spend.

Learning Journey

Often, new joinees expect an induction to be just a set of documents and PowerPoint decks to read along with some face-to-face sessions or a few online trainings. But this training took them to a completely different path, which they may not have expected out of an induction.

The induction is in the format of a journey that the inductee has to take. It spans across 4 weeks with something new and exciting every step of the way.

Transforming Instructor-Led Induction and Onboarding Training to a Virtual Mode

A separate webpage linked to the training homepage gives an ‘itinerary’ of the journey to the new joinees.

Transforming Instructor-Led Induction and Onboarding Training to a Virtual Mode

The journey is divided into clearly defined stages. Each stage has topics that cover information in a systematic manner. The inductees gain points on completing each topic.

Transforming Instructor-Led Induction and Onboarding Training to a Virtual Mode

They also see a dashboard that showcases their completion status, points gained, a leaderboard, a social collaboration handle, and downloadable policy documents in a PDF format for future reference. The elements of gamification drive learner motivation and also enable social collaborative learning.

Transforming Instructor-Led Induction and Onboarding Training to a Virtual Mode

The ‘Tour of the Office’ is an interactive, 360 degree tour using virtual reality where the inductee can visit the facility vitually and interact with the environment. It gives them a feel of having ‘visited’ the office premises virtually.

Transforming Instructor-Led Induction and Onboarding Training to a Virtual Mode

Learning Continuum

To ensure learners have key domains and learnings post the online induction and easy references at the moment of need, ILT/VILT materials are supplied to them for reference.

Handling the Facilitated Sessions – Virtually

We have 13 sessions that are facilitated and we leverage the virtual platform (MS Teams) in line with each session’s content focus and takeways to create engaging and interactive sessions. For instance,

  • We use flipped classroom for the session on organization culture and how the new team members can create their success story.
  • We use design thinking tools for several ops sessions that demand deliberation and active participation.
  • We extensively leverage digital whiteboarding features to provide conceptual clarity to the new inductees.

Given the fact that COVID-19 has led to changed workplace dynamics and we need to work with the “new normal” – of employees working remotely, organizations must consider moving the classroom-based induction and onboarding training to a virtual mode.

I hope this article provides insights that will help you handle this transition effectively and leverage this opportunity to create more immersive learning experiences for your remote learners. In particular, the featured induction and onboarding case study is a great illustration of how an effective virtual induction and onboarding training can be delivered.

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Asha Pandey
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