Transforming induction at World Vision UK

Michelle Coates has transformed Induction at World Vision UK, creating bespoke videos as part of an engaging blended programme to get new staff off to a great start from day one.

‘You are here! We are so pleased! We will now work with you so that you know what you need to know, when you need to know it, and are able to be the best you as soon as possible so that together we can achieve our mission here at WVUK.’ World Vision UK’s mission statement for induction. 

Induction was frankly counterproductive at World Vision UK. Your first day was spent in the classroom with a whole host of people talking to you, including hours of advice and endless policies and practices. This goes against everything that L&D practitioners know about how we learn and was information overload. Meanwhile, because new starters hadn’t been through GDPR training they couldn’t access IT systems, had to fill in lots of forms in duplicate and had no security card – which they needed to access the loo! 

If this sounds depressingly familiar, then Michelle Coates approach to changing this, with virtually no budget at all, is not. She decided to employ a Kaizen approach – to eliminate things which were simply not adding any value for the employee. 

“This all came about because we had talked about how we had many celebrations and leaving dos but didn’t celebrate staff arriving,” explained Michelle. “Also, the stuff we were asking of new starters was to make all our jobs easier, not because we thought they might appreciate it!” 

When they surveyed staff who had started through the old induction process, 50% during a six month period said ‘No’ to feeling ‘valued and welcomed into the organisation’, which confirmed they had a massive shift to make. 

Michelle put a small team of stakeholders together, that fed into the induction process. The group included the recruitment specialist, building managers, IT representative and a current manager. They consulted recent starters and took a good hard look at induction. Some of the things new hires were being asked to do were pointless – or were necessary but were not adding value for the employee. Instead, the team worked out what was important for new employees and put those needs centre stage, and designed a new induction process around that. The focus now was on the quality of the experience.

Since the pilot and rollout, unsolicited feedback has been amazing. One new starter tweeted: “Thanks World Vision UK for an amazing first day at the office. What a welcome!”


Another posted on the charity’s internal forum: “I’d like to send a big THANK YOU to everyone at World Vision UK for giving me such an amazing welcome and great first week here. I’ve never felt so loved, included and made to feel part of the family so quickly in an organisation. I’m blown away! So thank you so much to all those who introduced themselves to me, asked me how my day/week was going and organised things to help me get orientated. You are very appreciated.”

Stepping stones to an incredible induction transformation

Allow staff to get to know their team and office on day one
New starters wanted to get to know the teams they would be working with on day one and spending a day in the classroom was actually preventing that. They also had simple, practical questions about where to eat and what to wear but they didn’t have to be in a classroom to find these things out. So classroom training had to go, to be replaced with self-directed learning. 

Information overload doesn’t work
The theory of spacing learning is supported by science but is also common sense – overloading new starters with policies and practices on day one doesn’t work. But because of the nature of the work that Word Vision UK carries out, some staff do have to be compliant in certain safeguarding standards, for example, before they can go into the field. Michelle decided to take a new drip feed approach to induction, with a combination of vital processes and useful information sent to employees before they even start, to speed up joining and help answer some of their practical questions. Information that wasn’t essential to them starting work on day one could follow in stages.

Create bespoke resources
There are huge benefits to creating your own resources, as it means you can add vital context. Michelle used her smartphone to create little videos, interviewing staff to find out what questions they would have liked answered before they joined. By doing this, she created some engaging content to sit alongside the important processes that still had to be done.

Streamline paperwork & processes
Michelle was keen to eliminate having to fill in forms in triplicate and avoid the frustration of starting work and not be able to log onto a computer on day one. In an ideal world, she would have liked World Vision UK’s HR system and people platform to ‘talk’ to one another, as that would have made automating certain processes possible, like gaining a security card. But this wasn’t an easy task, and she had no budget for the coding that would have been required. Instead she has streamlined manual processes as much as possible and also created a booklet for managers, to show them exactly what they need to organise for their new starters, to make joining easy. It means that new hires also stay within their teams on day one.

Beyond the pilot phase
The new blended Induction programme now contains a mix of curated and created content, including eLearning courses provided by the Charity Learning Consortium. After an initial pilot, in January to March 2019, it’s been rolled out to a second cohort. Feedback will continue to inform induction at World Vision UK, but the pack has been well received. There are obvious cost savings involved, but saving money was not the priority and the focus was very much on the experience.

The human touch
Michelle has taken a hands-on approach to transforming induction. She personally greets every new starter on day one, to welcome them and make sure that everything is in place. When she hasn’t been able to do that face to face, she has organised a skype video call with them instead. In their first month, she also brings any new starters together for an Afternoon Tea with PBE (the People & Business Excellence team). These are simple things to do to make new staff feel welcome. They can see a friendly face, know that help and support is available and where to go to find it, but they are also free to get on with settling into their job rather than into the classroom. 

A new pack for new starters – amongst the goodies new starters receive are:

  • A water bottle
  • Chocolate/sweets
  • Parking permit
  • New starter guide
  • Organisational chart
  • Floor plans
  • Local coffee shop loyalty cards
  • A bible
  • Online courses & resources, including information on mental health
  • Links to video interviews with current staff

Induction is more than just onboarding:

The new three step programme at World Vision UK is designed to provide information and activities new employees need to help them find their feet and quickly progress.

Part One: Induction – their first day to the fourth week of employment.
Part two: Probation – fifth week to six months of employment.
Part Three: Integration – ongoing development & wellbeing activities throughout employment.

Michelle Coates shares a couple of the key lessons she has learned from re-launching the induction programme at World Vision UK

Collaboration counts
‘Being part of the Charity Learning Consortium has been enormously helpful, in more ways than one. We were inspired to create the induction videos by a Consortium workshop led by Adam Harwood, from Revolut. And we also became part of a small networking group of charities that we met through the Consortium – which included Teach First and Sport England – and we really learnt from them. We basically swopped knowledge, and begged, borrowed and stole ideas! I don’t think we could have achieved so much without this element of collaboration.’

Don’t wait for perfection
‘We were also inspired by Michelle Parry-Slater’s ‘no plasters’ approach. When we launched the pilot we knew that we were about 40% there with the new induction pack, and with the second cohort I think we’re up to about 85%. But we decided to launch it, to get it out there. We ripped the plaster off, and we’re refining along the way. You just can’t be agile if you wait for everything to be perfect.’

Michelle Coates is the L&D Officer at World Vision UK. World Vision believes that by working together with children, their communities, and its supporters and partners, the lives of the world’s most vulnerable children can be transformed. The charity brings together people – of all faiths and none – in almost 100 countries, to improve children’s health, education, water, protection and sources of family income. As a Christian organisation it aspires to reflect God’s unconditional love in everything it does.

World Vision International encourages staff to use a Kaizen approach to challenges and process change, with inhouse ‘Sensei’ available to help facilitation. Training involves progressing through various stages, such as green belt and black belt. Michelle Coates is an aspiring green belt herself, She describes the step by step Kaizen method, using the lean six sigma methodology, as a brilliant way to solve problems. 

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