by Alistair Lee
I recently spoke with Justin Mass (@jmass), Manager of Learning Technology and Design, about how the People Resources team recently moved to a completely digital orientation for new-hires to Adobe.
Until this year, a 4 hour new-hire orientation was handled separately in each office. Adobe has more than 40 office locations and many remote employees making it difficult to create a consistent orientation experience for our new employees. The digital orientation in Adobe Connect helped the team address the challenge of a distributed workforce. The majority of Adobe employees work outside of the San Francisco and San Jose area where Adobe maintains it’s corporate headquarters. By moving the experience online, the People Resources team was able to create a streamlined 90 minute orientation that can be delivered consistently each and every week. Additional content can also be delivered through self-paced on-demand learning. When fully implemented later this year, digital orientation will save over 60 hours a week or 3000 man hours a year through its digital delivery. Additional benefits include travel savings and increased consistency in messaging and experience across the world.
Justin walked me through the process and I was impressed with how he’s used technology to keep the orientation process interactive and engaging. The team is able to use the same persistent virtual Adobe Connect room each week. They don’t need to re-create the room and upload content for each meeting. The room has been designed with a large number of layouts to keep the sessions moving and on-track. Mass tells me that they change layouts every 5 minutes or so to switch from delivery to discussion.
Although layout changes happen often, there is consistency across every layout. For example, a video pod is used on the left-hand side of the screen by the presenters on every layout to provide better engagement. Justin and his co-presenter Ellie Gates (Head of Talent Development Programs) stay on-screen for the entire meeting. There is also a persistent chat pod on the right-hand side of the screen titled ‘Insights’ that participants can use throughout the 90 minute meeting to share any insights with the rest of the participants. The video and chat pod don’t move from layout to layout – only the content in the center of the screen changes.
In fact, the team makes great use of the ability to place multiple chat pods on a single layout. Nearly half of the layouts incorporate multiple chat pods to capture feedback. Justin gave me a great example. Early in the orientation, Ellie and Justin discuss Adobe’s corporate values (genuine, exceptional, innovative, involved). They then change the layout to include a separate chat pod for each value. Participants are encouraged to provide feedback about how they interpret each of these values. Each chat pod can contain a separate conversation. Justin told me that one of the advantages of capturing feedback this way is that it doesn’t favor the extrovert over the introvert. Everyone feels like they can share.
One of the things that most impressed me about the design of this new digital program is how the team was able to reduce the dependency on Powerpoint slides and introduce other media including professional videos, polls, music, PDF documents, web links, and more. In fact, the lobby layout used at the beginning features an interactive map so that participants can see all of the different regions from which participants are joining.
The team has really embraced the idea of digital orientation, and in doing so has taken advantage of the medium. Going digital not only means it’s easier for the new-hires to attend, but it also means that members of the Adobe leadership team can also easily drop in to welcome our newest employees.
If you’re looking to transform your new-hire orientation into a digital experience, I’ll have a new post next week that covers some of the best practices that Justin shared with me around designing an engaging and interactive orientation program.