LAS is an award-winning provider of elearning consultancy, design, development and training services in the UK and internationally.
Established in 2005 as LearningAge Solutions, we work with some of the best known organisations in the world to boost their performance through the innovative use of learning technologies. Working in partnership with our customers, we draw on proven principles from human behaviour, how people learn and how the brain works to create impactful digital learning solutions with real return on investment.
Rob is a designer through and through who is fascinated by how we learn, what we remember and why we pay attention to certain things. He is a huge enthusiast of all that technology can offer to enhance learning and has completed a huge variety of projects in his 14 year career.
He is the editor and co-author of The Really Useful eLearning Instruction Manual published by Wiley and featuring contributions from the brightest and best elearning minds on both sides of the Atlantic.
by Rob Hubbard
Posted March 2019
It was to be a first of a kind for Learning Technologies UK. The brief was to run a highly interactive workshop-style session at the London conference. New venue, new format, unknown wifi speed - what could possibly go wrong? When asked if we could run such a session, we leapt at the chance! We do a lot of work in digital learning innovation and so applied part of our innovation process to a topic everyone would be familiar with, and that, in many cases, can be done better - induction.
Thankfully; the session was a success : ) We had an awesome room full of about 80 people, all resoundingly up for it and willing to get involved. Without their passion, willingness to share and brilliant ideas it would have fallen flat.
We made sure we were prepared; in advance of the session we conducted some user research to generate data to use as an input. Once in the session, we used part of our innovation process and conducted some rapid user research. Ideas immediately started to form and commonalities were discovered, even in very different organisations. We then asked the tables to video or document their observations and insights and to share them on Twitter under the hashtag #inductioninsights. You can see the Twitter Moment of all the tweets and media here:
The research phase was necessarily quick and dirty as we only had 30 minutes or so. Obviously in a real scenario, you would spend a lot more time on it. It just went to show, however, that even asking a few questions in a short space of time and listening with an open mind can reveal some really interesting insights and challenge your assumptions.
People in the workshop were asked to consider three questions in pairs and then in groups: Thinking of your experience of induction, what worked / did you like about it?Thinking of your experience of induction, what didn't work / didn't you like about it? Thinking of your experience of induction, what might have improved your experience of it?
So what were the common themes?
The thing that came out strongly as being an essential part of a good induction was that it be personal and people-oriented. A friendly and supportive introduction to the organisation which allows you to meet people face-to-face, make social connections, maybe find a buddy and start to collaborate was seen as vital on almost all the tables.
As well as covering practical things like where the kitchen and the loos are and what is required for the role, an ideal induction also covers values and culture and how this is lived out through the behaviour of employees. It inspires new starters to want to internalise these values themselves.
Successful induction packages are also delivered in a timely and organised manner. People like to see that thought has gone into the process of induction and that it, and by association the new starter themselves, is seen as important by the organisation.
The dislikes were also pretty unanimous across a range of different types of organisations. People hate getting swamped by information all at once, particularly when it is presented in a disorganised way and especially when it’s packaged as death by Powerpoint - argggg! They also want to feel that the learning is really relevant and not something that they are being made to go through as a tick-box exercise.
So what can we do to make induction better?
It is a skill to be able to lay your preconceptions to one side and gather information from your users or potential users with an entirely open-mind. We all have biases, whether conscious or unconscious, and naturally make assumptions about what the research will find, based on our own experiences. Making an effort to look at the research neutrally is hard, but essential if you want the best outcome for your learners.
If you ask the right questions as part of your innovation process, solutions will start to present themselves without too much effort. This is what our teams found in the workshop and boy did they come up with a lot of ideas in a really short space of time - 45 ideas in fact and they’re all good, workable solutions. Imagine what you could come up with if you spent a day or two on it!
Here are some of the best...
My favourite analogy of the day was that we should view induction like introducing a new kitten to your home, where they slowly get used to one room at a time.
‘Think of induction as something you do for kittens’.
Don’t dump a load of information all at once but drip-feed over a period, helping your new starter to gain confidence and giving them the tools and resources to grow in their new role. Induction shouldn’t feel overwhelming or something that’s crammed into the first couple of days. Instead, it should be a supportive process over a period of time that helps embed them into the organisation both practically and culturally.
Indeed, several groups discussed the idea of induction starting even before that first day. They came up with the idea of having a pre-induction before your new-starter enters the building. Enabled by technology, this might include video introductions from key people in the organisation, virtual walk-arounds or information to read. It will help them to feel welcomed and valued, to set the tone for their relationship with their new employer and to manage their expectations in relation to the induction process.
The idea of induction as an experience was widely discussed. It’s not just about having great, relevant, insightful content but most importantly it is about relationships and people. Technology can help to create social opportunities, this really does come to the fore in organisations where people are geographically dispersed, but nothing really beats meeting your new colleagues face-to-face. Having mentors or buddies, who you could meet online before you start, having meetings with key people and stakeholders and job shadowing are all part of a great induction experience. Most groups agreed that a blended approach was the way forward with induction.
After a lively end-of-the day workshop at LT19, an incredible 90% of attendees said that they had something that they were going to go away and implement to improve their induction process. We love running these sorts of sessions, getting people working together and sharing ideas so we harness the collective genius of the people in the room, then sharing it more widely.
Here is a summary of the answers to the research questions, to help inspire your ideas