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The recently announced government legislation supporting flexible working means that hybrid working is here to stay.

While this is welcome news for jobseekers, it’s equally good for business. Now able to cast their net wider, companies have better opportunities to recruit the best people. But, fishing in a bigger talent pool comes with one particular challenge: how do you onboard remote employees without making them feel isolated?

An online induction is a new starter’s first experience of a company. A bit like dating, where first impressions really matter, an induction is a company’s first chance to woo its workforce. So, if you’re looking for long-term commitment from your new starters, these behavioural science techniques will help steer the relationship (and your online induction) on the right course.

The Halo Effect

We’ve all heard the old adage that first impressions are long lasting, but did you know this is backed by science? Research suggests it takes as little as 1/10th of a second to form a judgement on something or someone – and that this impression is not easily altered.   

Add to this the cognitive bias of the Halo Effect, which suggests we have a tendency to transfer our initial positive impressions of something onto other areas and you better make sure that your new employee’s first experience of your company hits the mark. A remote induction spent downloading and reading an endless number of dry corporate policy documents, for instance, might not trigger a positive view of the company. Design an online induction that really showcases your company’s personality and highlights the culture 


One technique that never seems to fail is gamification. Adopting gamification techniques helps to boost learner engagement, increase motivation and improve memory retention. Need more convincing? A report by Aberdeen Research claims that onboarding with gamification leads to significant improvements in turnover and engagement levels. So, why not add some gamified elements to your online inductions? Think progress bars, quizzes and instant feedbackthese will not only make the induction more fun, but more personal too.


This leads us nicely to the next technique – narrative. Connecting your new starters to all the relevant platforms (and people) in the business isn’t all that difficult, but building connections when working remotely, is a lot trickier. Integrating someone into the company will be easier if they understand its brand, values, goals and culture. One of the best ways to do this? With stories.  

In the same way we encourage narratives in a company’s L&D programme, we also encourage them in online inductions. Bring the backstory of your business to life in your online induction training with a compelling narrative. Stories will not only help bring meaning to a person’s role and how they fit into the bigger picture, but they will make what they learn about the company more memorable.

Employee induction appearing on a laptop

The serial position effect

Aah, memory. Think back to your first day in a new job and all the many things you had to learn. How did you remember it all? Well, according to psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus, who discovered the Forgetting Curve, it’s all about positioning. During his experiments on memory, he found that a person’s ability to accurately recall items from a list was dependent on the order in which they were listed.  

We now call this the serial position effect. Unsurprisingly, anything at the end of the list (the most recent thing learnt) is recalled with the greatest accuracy (the recency effect), but did you know that the items at the beginning of the list are also remembered fairly easily (the primacy effect)? It’s the information in the middle that’s a bit fuzzy. So, what does this mean for online inductions? Simple. Make sure you start and end the training with the most important information to give your new starters the best chance of remembering it.

The spacing effect

As the name suggests, you need to make sure you space everything out. Yes, the goal of any induction training is to arm new employees with the information they need to be as productive as possible from day one. But, information overload is real, especially in a new job. So, instead of burying new employees under a mountain of detail, break up the information into manageable chunks (the chunking effect) and space it out. This allows new starters to dip in and out at their own pace.


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