Imagine it’s March 2020. You have over 600 outstanding graduates ready to join you at your academy. There, they’ll begin their training to become police officers, before joining 17 separate police forces across England and Wales to continue their graduate programme. But first, you’ll be running a face-to-face, three-day induction event for all of them in April. Then the COVID-19 pandemic begins to take hold. What next?
This was the challenge facing Police Now earlier this year. But, thanks to some bold decisions, innovative ideas, and some very versatile onboarding technology, they’ve made their welcome to 2020’s graduates more successful than ever.
Police Now already had a strong onboarding experience. Nominated last year for Best Onboarding Experience at the Target Jobs National Graduate Recruitment Awards, their onboarding is underpinned by four key pillars that we feel define a great experience. These haven’t changed despite COVID-19, although some of the ways you’ll make them happen might. With the support of their onboarding technology Eli, Police Now were able to continue many elements of their onboarding unchanged, leaving them free to concentrate on taking their three-day induction event for over 600 offer holders entirely online.
What are these pillars?
Ensure your graduates truly understand what you do and how you do it, no matter what their background. Don’t assume knowledge of your organisation or sector; it’s a golden rule of graduate onboarding. Through their onboarding platform, Police Now delivered detailed information on the training programme, as well as personalised content on the vision, values, structure and work of the individual force each graduate will be joining. It’s no mean feat, as their graduates join over 17 forces across England and Wales.
Smooth their transition from study to work life. Think back. Remember how daunting that move was. That apprehensiveness will be even more marked in today’s uncertain times. Information, tools and guidance all help upskill graduates in soft skills and more efficient ways of working. Police Now provide an individual timeline for each participant on their onboarding platform, showing details of events, inductions, meet and greets and training to help make the transition easier. This is supported by regular communication between offer holders and Police Now recruiters.
Help grads to hit the ground running and think long-term. It’s important to let graduates know exactly what their programme entails and how can they succeed on it, as well as giving them access to as much L&D as possible. It’s all key to empowering them to plan for their future. Police Now’s onboarding platform includes an introduction to their online learning academy, so they know exactly how it works when they start their training, as well as a dedicated mentor from the force they’re joining – on hand to offer support when they need it.
Create a sense of belonging. After three or four years of university, most grads feel like they belong. Fostering that same feeling at work is key to successful onboarding. Police Now have a social wall on their onboarding platform, which allows graduates to interact with and support each other. This has proved particularly important for this year’s cohort during a period of isolation and uncertainty.
A bold decision
A vital event for Police Now’s offer holders is their induction event – which helps to achieve all of the four onboarding pillars. It brings together over 600 graduates to meet each other, and members of the force they’ll be joining. They hear talks from Police Now, current programme participants, and members of forces across the country. They also take part in sessions that help them transition onto the programme, and, longer term, into the police force itself.
Police Now made a bold decision very early on – several weeks before lockdown in fact – that they were going to take the event online. This gave them the time they needed to re-imagine their event, contact speakers and stakeholders (and train them on the chosen platform, Zoom), and support them in pre-recording their talks. This ensured a consistent, high-quality session from each speaker, regardless of which day you attended as an offer holder.
Meanwhile, all offer holders were kept up-to-date on the change and details of the new induction through their onboarding tech, as well as receiving the induction pack they would have received at the event, through the post.
The whole event was hosted by Adam Moore, Head of Marketing at Police Now. Live Q&As followed the pre-recorded talks, so the grads could interact fully with the speakers and sessions. Time was also built in for participants to network with their future colleagues and peers at their partner forces, as they would have done at the face-to-face event.
Police Now were keen to highlight the importance of follow up after the event too. Videos and talks from the event were uploaded onto their onboarding platform, so graduates could re-watch them at their leisure, and offer holders were given access to the learning academy early. Further Q&A sessions were also held on their onboarding platform around specific topics there wasn’t time for at the event, to make sure everyone had a chance to ask all the questions they wanted, felt informed and included.
Adam told us, “The online induction was a real success. It had almost 100% attendance – even higher than when the event was being held face-to-face. Because it has helped improve accessibility so effectively for people from all social backgrounds living in all areas of England and Wales, we’re now considering holding the event online in years to come.”
Necessity truly is the mother of invention.