How can I design a course for new hires?

When they say, “We need an onboarding course,” our stakeholders usually haven’t identified what behaviors they want to see. As a result, the “course” is just a presentation of information that might be better put on the intranet or in a PDF.

You might consider using action mapping with your stakeholders to get them to identify what they want people to do differently as a result of the online induction. Some behaviors might be:

– Don’t quit immediately (in other words, understand the culture, feel like part of the team)
– Choose your health plan or other benefits before the deadline
– Don’t pester your coworkers with lots of basic questions–use the info on the intranet
– Commit to following our rules
– Take advantage of the training and other improvement opportunities we offer
– Etc.

Once you’ve identified the behaviors, you can identify possible barriers to each one and find ways to make doing the right thing easier. Is the health plan information easy to find and use? Can we make it easier? Are the common questions asked by new hires answered by a FAQ that’s easy to find? Is it easy to see what training opportunities apply to a new hire?

You’ll probably find that many solutions to the “new hire” problem don’t require training. Instead, you might find yourself making online information easier to find and read, streamlining policies, or organizing a weekly lunch to help communicate the company’s values and culture.

If you do decide that training is the solution for some behaviors, you can avoid an information dump by brainstorming practice activities (e.g. What’s the best benefit package for Bob? How should Sarah log into the intranet? What should Harry do about his upcoming surgery?). The activities could link to the reference information that’s already on the intranet (I hope!) instead of presenting it all.