Real Life Ideas for Improving Induction

by | May 17, 2016 | 0 comments

Louise Pasterfield from Sponge UK explores Towards Maturity data to uncover practical ideas that could inspire change in your organisation.

Induction matters. The gains go far beyond making a good first impression. Organisations with effective induction are more likely to retain their new recruits for longer. They get new employees up to speed quicker and help them reach their performance goals earlier.

In its 2014 report about on onboarding, Aberdeen Group found that 68% of companies had no formal process in place. Skip forward to 2016 and there appears to be a renewed focus on overhauling induction. We’ll be digging into Towards Maturity’s data to see what it tell us about changes in onboarding practice, as well as picking out some practical ideas that could inspire change in your own organisation.

Compelling data

Induction (or onboarding) sticks out in the latest Towards Maturity Industry Benchmark Report for a number of reasons. Firstly, its importance to almost every organisation; 97% are offering programmes in induction and almost 80% are planning to ‘e-enable’ these skills in the next two years. Secondly, the scale of the work ahead, as 95% of respondents want to improve induction with only 39% meeting that goal.

With such a big gap between aspiration and performance, the induction challenge seems daunting but there is evidence that learning innovation is turning the tide. Benchmark data from the best performing L&D teams, known as the Top Deck, provides clues about where the difference lies.

In 2015, 67% of Top Deck organisations said learning technology reinforces the way they recruit, onboard and develop their people, compared with the average of 21%. Incredibly, ‘Top Deckers’ are 50 times more likely than the lowest performers to improve talent strategies to keep their best people. The data is compelling but translating it into practical measures is not easy. Using real life ideas can help inspire new approaches that will make a difference in your own situation.

Inspiration by example

We’ve identified four techniques used by organisations in their induction programmes that relate to the tactics of the top performing organisations highlight in the Towards Maturity Industry Benchmark Report. While every organisation is different, examples of good practice and innovation in other companies can offer inspiration for change.

Design for self-directed learners

Recognising what employees want from their learning and how they prefer to access content is at the heart of Sports Direct’s induction programme.

The leading sports retailer has been providing online onboarding since 2013 with more than 25,000 employees, across the 19 countries going through the programme.

Data from Towards Maturity reveals that 83% of new starters like to learn at their own pace, with 44% using their own mobile to learn.

With this in mind, Sports Direct used the Adapt multi-device responsive elearning framework for its online content. It means employees can access the elearning on a smartphone or tablet, giving them maximum flexibility.

You can read more about Sports Direct’s approach to induction in Inside Learning Technologies & Skills magazine.

Get buy in from senior managers

It seems obvious but the person at the top needs to get behind an induction programme if it is going to be successful. Towards Maturity data reveals that 87% of Top Deck organisations agree that top managers are involved in promoting learning, compared with an average of 37%.

UK infrastructure company, Story Contracting features a video message from the company owner and Chief Executive, Fred Story in its new online induction. You might expect to hear from the boss as part of an onboarding process, but in the case of Story, the CEO helped to plan the programme and even suggested an outtakes video for the end of the module.

You can read more about Story’s induction elearning here.

Link to business culture

Introducing employees to the values and culture of an organisation is an important part of most induction programmes. But Towards Maturity figures show that an only 21% of L&D professionals are reporting business benefits relating to organisational culture.

The international optical and hearing business, Specsavers wanted to give this aspect of their onboarding real meaning. New staff and partners joining Specsavers are able to earn a virtual coin by completing the company’s new induction course. The business then makes a real cash donation to the charity chosen by employees in proportion to the number of virtual coins earned.

You can read more about the Specsavers’ approach here.

Make content relevant and authentic

‘Too generic’ is a common complaint from L&D teams. An average of 48% of Benchmark respondents reported that elearning not being tailored sufficiently was a barrier to success.

United Biscuits (UB), the company behind household names such as McVitie’s, Jaffa Cakes and Penguin, wanted to make sure its induction programme was relevant to both new starters and any existing employees who might access the training. UB used video of real employees talking about their jobs to add relevance and authenticity to the content.

You can read more about the experience at United Biscuits in HR Grapevinemagazine.

To summarise, here are the real life induction ideas that worked for four leading businesses:

  • Design for self-directed learners
  • Get buy in from senior managers
  • Link to business culture  
  • Make content relevant and authentic

Next steps

If you are looking for more practical steps you can take to move forward with learning innovation in your organisation, sign up for Towards Maturity’s #MakeItHappencampaign. The aim is to help L&D professionals focus on one area of action that will help them deliver impact. And, if improving induction is your focus, there are more ideas in Sponge UK’s Rough Guide to Induction.


Louise Pasterfield
Managing Director, Sponge UK

Louise has more than 20 years’ experience in learning and design and is passionate about making elearning absorbing so staff can apply what they have learned immediately into the workplace.

Her interest is in how best to harness technology so people can learn, grow and make a difference to their organisations.  

She founded Sponge UK in 2004 and has grown the company into a world leader in innovative learning technologies including elearning games, interactive video and multi-device learning.

Louise regularly speaks at leading exhibitions and conferences on elearning developments, technology and learning solutions, sharing her knowledge and the pioneering work the team are doing for clients based around the world.

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At Towards Maturity, we have identified six workstreams that characterise successful, high performing organisations. From these workstreams, we have developed a common framework of effective practice.

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