5 tips for virtual inductions

Jul 9, 2020 | Development

Lockdown meant that student inductions moved online, so what is needed to make this new model effective? Here are five top tips from Khairunnisa Mohamedali from The Smarty Train who joined us recently for our Create a first-class virtual induction webinar with Sky’s Naz Hameedi and HSBC’s Laura Anderson.

1. Create a defining moment

As graduates starting out in their first job, your inductees are experiencing what anthropologists call a liminal period. They’re in between two fixed identities, occupying neither one nor the other fully. A graduate is no longer a student, but not yet a full-fledged member of the working world. Liminal periods are defined by ambiguity and uncertainty, where an old identity is being shed, but the new one hasn’t yet fully been assumed.

But liminal periods are also a time defined by opportunity. They are opportunity to ease into a new world by learning new ways of being and operating, new expectations and new behaviours. Done well, inductions can be the ultimate anchor showing new joiners the ropes to this new world. Consider how you can design your induction to anchor early talent through a liminal period.

2. Timing is everything

Virtual inductions don’t afford us the luxury of adapting and pivoting in the moment that face-to-face inductions do. We can’t read and react to the energy in the room as we could face-to-face. We can’t flex with the tech or room set-ups in the same way. Spontaneity is much costlier when it is possible.

Instead everything has to be thought of and considered ahead of time. Think of it as storyboarding your entire induction before the first invitation is sent, or the first session is scheduled. This includes the flow and energy you want to create. The connectivity between sessions. The rhythm you want to follow. Luckily, there’s a science to timing in experience design. It starts with storytelling. Use it. Consider what your story is for a perfectly timed induction.

3. Content is queen/king

In June 2019, the average British adult spent 50 days of their previous year online. In June 2020, it’s a lot more. Our entire lives have moved online. Work, leisure, entertainment, relationships and the list continues. In a world where virtual dominates and our attentions are pulled in multiple directions, it is critical that your virtual induction content is easy to remember and engaging. Recall is harder in virtual settings compared with face-to-face, and staying focused requires much more effort.

There are many approaches to use here, from gamification and language, through to delivery modes. And what really matters is making sure you look good. Substance and form win. Consider how you can relay content differently and unexpectedly?

4. Make tech work for you

When it comes to a virtual induction, your audience won’t notice if everything goes well and seamlessly. But they will if anything goes wrong, because the tech hiccups will stand out like a sore thumb.

Make sure you understand your tech inside and out. Invest in the right tech, based on what your needs are and what your audience is familiar with. Most importantly of all, test, test, and test. And then test again. Get the basics right, and your content will be the talk of the town. Consider whether you know all the tech options available and if you’re picking the right ones.

5. Create human connections

It is deeply human trait to connect over a shared experience. Put strangers together in a stadium to watch sport and the shared investment in the outcome – not to mention the deafening roar of cheers – make for an unforgettable feeling of togetherness. Consider World Cups and Olympics, where even non-sports fans get swept away. What better start to your time in a company than an induction that connects you just as powerfully with your incoming cohort and the business.

In face-to-face inductions, natural moments of connection arise by virtue of putting a lot of people together in a space over a period of hours or days, to share in the onboarding experience. In a virtual situation, this connection must be carefully considered and engineered. Consider whether your induction superstars are trained to properly go virtual and how you will create ‘Olympic moments’ in your next induction.

For a copy of The Smarty Train’s paper ‘Virtual Inductions during Covid-19’: Email getintouch@thesmartytrain.com, subject line: Send me Virtual Induction paper.

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