Engineer onboarding; use of verification and feedback to accelerate speed to competence

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Utilizing digital technology can improve your engineer onboarding through verification, evidence gathering and feedback. Whether you work in construction or utilities, mobile platforms make it easier for employees to become productive members of your team. That’s why we developed On.Board, a mobile learning and coaching platform for the technical and engineering industry, but, why should you invest in On.Board?

Firstly, the short answer: because On.Board has been tried, tested and proven as a highly effective platform for onboarding engineers and field technicians across the USA.

Secondly, the longer answer;  we developed On.Board in collaboration with technicians and engineers to ensure we addressed the specific challenges these workers face, head-on.

Here’s how it all started back in 2014.

An unexpected beginning

The original version of On.Board was designed to improve the performance of salespeople. We built the platform to log shadowing activities and facilitate coaching sessions between managers and salespeople. It enabled organizations to determine the value of such activities and gave insight on their frequency. This visible accountability drove up the quality of support managers provided and delivered sales revenue increases of up to 25%.

On.Board proved a great success in the sales community. So much so that it caught the attention of their fellow engineers. That’s when things got really interesting.

Engineering a new approach

Working alongside people leading teams of field engineers and technicians, we developed a bespoke version of On.Board to support engineer onboarding ‘on the job’. We tailored the platform’s Performance Hub to connect new technicians and engineers to both their immediate managers and their technical coaches. Adding and adapting features to meet the demands inherent to technical training, we leveraged the capabilities of mobile digital technology to capture multimedia evidence.

The results were significant.

A tangible impact on training

New hires went through the usual process of classroom training, supplemented by e-learning, but this time around when they were sent out into the field, they were equipped with On.Board, so they could continue their training in real-world situations. Rather than talk or write about how they’d address a hypothetical task, they could deal with a real one, upload evidence of their work, and have their approach validated by a technical coach.

Here’s how a typical training scenario played out:

  1. In the classroom, a new hire was taught the theory behind how to fix, for example, cables damaged by bad weather.  
  2. Out in the field, the new hire was assigned this repair as one of their tasks for the day.
  3. Once on site, a training activity within On.Board prompted them to outline the steps they’d take to fix the problem, via a simple form, before beginning the repairs.
  4. Next, the new hire took a picture on their smartphone of the task before the fix and uploaded this to On.Board.
  5. They carried out the fix, took another photo on completion and uploaded this to On.Board.
  6. Finally, the training activity prompted the new hire to state any problems they faced during the task.
  7. The completed activity was submitted for review.
  8. Their technical coach received instant notification of the completed training activity and reviewed or rejected it, after first:
    • checking that the new hire outlined the correct repair process
    • checking that the new hire carried out the repair correctly (based on visual evidence)
    • addressing any queries or challenges raised by the new hire by providing specific, timely digital feedback on the given task.

This hands-on approach accelerated engineer onboarding out in the field, while simultaneously connecting them to their team for support and motivation.

The organizational impact of On.Board

On.Board delivered greater consistency in the implementation of safe procedures, which is essential for health and safety as well as first-time fix rates.

What’s more, managers were surprised by just how rapidly On.Board could be deployed across thousands of employees, thanks to the quick and easy way in which training activities could be built, without the need for any IT expertise.

This came with the added bonus of the active participation of supervisors, senior technicians and engineers in the building of training activities, which drew out undocumented knowledge within the organization.

On the front line, employee engagement improved as engineers and technicians were able to progress to the next level in their careers more easily. Rather than relying on written exams for progression, On.Board was utilized for field verification to determine whether or not an engineer or technician could correctly carry out more complex tasks, evidenced through photos and video.

Those for whom English was a second language and more broadly, those who were ‘doers’ rather than writers, this was a game changer. While for the organization, the quality of skill verification greatly improved as engineers and technicians were tested on their capability to do the job in the real-world rather than their capability of articulating what they would do in a hypothetical situation.

What can On.Board do for you?

On.Board can embed safe processes and procedures across your workforce, provide a fast, flexible, hands-on engineer onboarding experience that will improve workforce satisfaction and retention.

To find out more about what On.Board can do for your organization, request your free demo here.

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