Digital Onboarding for Frontlines: The Inform, Welcome & Guide Framework, #1

When it comes to virtual onboarding practices, considering the Inform-Welcome-Guide (IWG) framework developed by Klein and Heuser1 can be a good start. Their framework suggests that onboarding should focus on three types of practices: informing, welcoming and guiding.

Taking this structured approach to setting up your virtual onboarding programme can be a helpful way of ensuring that your new frontline hires are able to find their place in your organization with ease.

In this article, we will focus on informing practices, which include all the activities that new frontline hires go through during onboarding that are intended to help them acquire the necessary information to better adjust within the organization. 

Why Informing Practices?

Informing practices are important because they will help newcomers feel more prepared taking on new tasks. Being introduced to new information and knowing where to refer back to in case of doubt can be a comforting tool for new frontline hires. This will help them feel more confident and well-prepared, especially as frontline employees may not always have a fast and easy way to contact someone in case of doubts.

Deskless employees are also often scattered in terms of physical location and are more likely to speak different languages, which can cause further challenges for communicating important information. 

What Do Informing Practices Look Like?

Informing practices should convey any important information that new hires will need to complete their job tasks or become familiar with the company in general. This can be done in a variety of ways, including but not limited to: 

  • presenting newcomers with documents to read, 
  • giving presentations,
  • sharing pre-recorded training videos, 
  • assigning self-learning modules,
  • holding virtual training sessions.

Each of these activities or tasks should also be followed with knowledge checks to ensure that your informing practices are helping your new frontline staff achieve their onboarding goals. To do all of this successfully, choose a tool that enables you to store and share documents, organize e-learning and set up deadlines and calendar events in a manner that best suits your organization’s needs. 

What Should You Keep in Mind When it Comes to Informing Practices?

Clear & Specific Informing Practices

An essential aspect of informing practices is that the frontline employees in your organization should have a clear understanding of where to find any information that they may need throughout their time working there. This includes everything from information about payrolls and vacations to standard operating procedures and task instructions. Having a designated ‘onboarding buddy’ or a member of the HR team walk the newcomer through the most important information, as well as explain the way information is organized can be extremely helpful. 

When the employer communicates where new frontline employees can find information, it is important that this is done in a highly specific manner. For example, they should not only mention the database where information can be found (e.g. GuavaHR), but also the specific folders (e.g. Documents – Personal – Contract).

Overall, this means that the person responsible for informing onboarding processes should have the appropriate skills and awareness to be specific in their communication with new hires. An onboarding checklist that is tailored to your organization’s deskless employees can be a useful tool to ensure that all the necessary information is conveyed to the newcomer.

Information for Now and Later

It is likely that some information will be key for employees to go through in their first week(s) of employment (e.g. safety and security rules, compensation and benefits information, vision and mission), while with other information it may simply be enough to know where to find it in case of future need. With tools like GuavaHR, a personalised e-learning sequence can be created for each new frontline employee to ensure that they cover all the necessary information right at the start.

It is also important that the organization clearly conveys their expectations to new frontline hires. This includes what information newcomers are expected to go through on their own and by when this should be done. This is especially important due to the nature of deskless work and the challenges that it brings in terms of working in different locations and languages. A step-by-step guide might be helpful for presenting clear expectations.

Another option would be to use a system that allows you to set courses with automatic deadlines for the new frontline employee to mark upon completion. Tasks can be set up with a reminder function, which will give both managers and deskless employees greater ease of mind. 

Time and Opportunities for Q&A

However, simply assigning tasks will not suffice. Your new hires are likely to have questions, so having the opportunity to have conversations about newly acquired information will help them to process it better. Therefore, having regular one to one check-ins between the newcomer and their manager should also be included in virtual onboarding informing practices.

For a more at hand solution, GuavaHR gives you the opportunity to create a group for your new frontline hires where they can post all their questions and receive quicker replies. This way your new deskless employees can also learn from each other’s questions. 

What Are Some of the Challenges You Might Face?

One of the common challenges with virtual informing practices is that newcomers are easily overwhelmed with large amounts of new information. This can become tiring and demotivating. As researched by Christina Goodermote2, a healthcare company supported their new employees by creating a learning schedule that incorporates time for self-study, training modules and discussions with colleagues. To ensure that the newcomers did not end up feeling alone amidst all the new information, the company also engaged other employees to give them mini-tutorials. 

What’s Next?

Although written with a focus on frontline employees, the content of this article also applies to virtual onboarding in general. In our upcoming article, we’ll focus on the welcoming part of the Inform, Welcome & Guide Framework.