Rapid online induction

Staff and volunteers are rapidly being recruited by charities throughout lockdown, which calls for a creative approach to induction. Gill Chester shares some hints and tips for creating a new style induction, and fast.

Despite the challenge of social distancing and lockdown many charities across the country are working flat out to recruit new staff and volunteers to support their activities. This ranges from charities delivering care and support to individuals affected by coronavirus, through to charities that have temporarily lost vital volunteers who are self isolating or shielding. So how can you get these new people up to speed, very quickly, as cheaply as possible and with no physical contact?  

Stakeholder group
My first step would be to pull together a virtual stakeholder group. Keep it as small as possible (two many cooks and all that…) but include a good mix of people that can provide useful input. I’d suggest:

  • People already doing the role
  • Good managers
  • Anyone who has started during lockdown 
  • A health and safety (H&S) representative if they are able to spare the time

Must haves
As a group, make a list of the ‘must haves’ that your new joiners need. Stick to just the ‘must haves’ for now. I normally promote learner-centred inductions that focus on people’s social integration into the organisation, but that is a long-term strategy and we have a short-term need. Right now, you need people with the skills, attitude and knowledge to start supporting you as best they can.  

That said, it is important that people are made to feel welcome and you thank them for stepping up (and stepping in) at this time (more on this in a moment).  

You still have a responsibility to present your charity in the best way possible to ensure these supporters remain loyal in the longer term. 

This doesn’t mean everything you create is perfect, in fact the opposite may be true. If you are genuinely doing the best you can, and everyone feels appreciated, this will probably be enough for most people. Be honest about how quickly you’ve had to create their induction, make it clear that resources will be added as they become available and include resources that support them on a practical level.

LMS course pages
Once you have your list of ‘must haves’ you can start to identify ways to present this information for learners. You need to move fast, so commissioning eLearning modules, even if you have the budget, won’t give you what you need quickly enough. Here are some ideas for resources that can be created faster, so they can be added to a dedicated course page on your learning management system (LMS):

  • Smartphone videos 
    YouTube changed the way to see video. We no longer need BBC quality for something to be seen as worthwhile. We’re happy for something that is ‘good enough’ if it means we have access to the information we need. This has been amplified even more during lockdown as TV stations have been forced to move studios into people’s homes so they can continue to produce their shows. Video has always played an important role in learning and development but now it reigns supreme. It’s fast, the majority of people have a good camera (on their phone) and it ‘puts a face’ to your organisation which otherwise might not be possible.  

    Examples might include:
    • A welcome from your CEO
    • An introduction to the induction from you, including details of where to get help if they need it
    • Instruction videos for practical things they might need to do, like accessing key IT systems, washing hands, cleaning equipment etc
  • eLearning  

    Bring existing off-the-shelf modules into your induction. Your LMS will be full of useful resources on H&S, working at home and wellbeing. If needed you can add organisational specific information, policy or perspective as text under the SCORM package.


  • PDFs and flipbooks
    If you have PDFs that contain useful information, include them. This might include posters normally placed in key locations in buildings. If the document includes information that isn’t quite right, or isn’t all relevant, just say this in the description. Remember, it’s OK to be honest about how the induction was created. People won’t expect you to have had this ready to go prior to lockdown.  You can also turn PDFs into flip books.
  • PowerPoint slides
    Take care publishing just existing PowerPoint presentations. The power of a presentation is the expertise from the presenter, the slides just consolidate the points being made. Taking existing slides and adding that context in can be a quick way to create a resource. These slides can then be turned into a video in PowerPoint. or uploaded to sites such as SlideShare that allow the learner to progress through the content at their own pace.
  • Recorded webinars 
    If you have any webinars you have recorded and they are of benefit, then include a link in your induction course page. Again, perhaps give some context to the recording and suggest where the key learning can be found. Recordings of webinars focusing on workplace wellbeing, hosted by the Charity Learning Consortium and led by Liggy Webb, can also be shared with staff and volunteers.
  • Animated videos 
    There are lots of online sites offering low cost ways to produce videos and animations using templates. Although there might be a bit of a learning curve to create your first video, this will get easier over time. If you have staff with reduced responsibilities because of lockdown, perhaps ask them to get involved.
  • Module development 
    If you already own tools such Articulate Rise, Storyline, Lectora or Adobe Captivate you may need to reconsider your development process. One trick would be to reuse slides you might have in other projects and/or make use of freely available templates. This will allow you to focus on creating instructionally sound resources and leave the visual design to others. 

About Gill Chester

Gill Chester is the founder and Director at Little Man Project. She has worked in learning and development for more than 18 years and is the lead developer at Little Man Project. 

The award winning eLearning design agency specialises in working with voluntary sector clients, to develop sustainable solutions to meet their L&D needs. This includes a programme of training and mentoring to help charities create eLearning in-house.

Read Gill’s tips for making the case for taking your training online on our website here


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