Made Possible By: HCI is pleased to offer downloadable slides and the archived version of this Webcast to HCI Professional Members. Gaming: The Onboarding System From Tuesday, July 22, 2008
A 2.0 Learning Tool for Onboarding Sun Microsystems has made a game of comprehensive onboarding, and in doing so, has developed an innovative solution that sets up new hires for sustained success. To achieve rapid learning, the company developed an online game to help new hires learn what the company does from an organizational perspective. The game also provides insight into the company and gives a new hire or potential applicant an idea of Sun’s internal structure.
“ The game helps people in their own time and at their own pace learn more about the company and also serves as a vehicle for competition when people first come into the company,” says George Selix, Ph.D., Partner and Employee Learning at Sun. It also reflects, supplements, and fits into a perpetual framework that delivers what an employee needs to know at the specific point that they need to know it.
The game—available to those both outside and inside the company—is an immersive vehicle that teaches users about the culture, values, and company strategy at Sun. Two types of the game play off the same theme. Dawn of the Shadow Specters is a text-based game recommended for lower-bandwidth operations. The Rise of the Shadow Specters is high fidelity and more interactive, with a style of sound and graphics easily recognizable to people familiar to gaming. As users go through both games, they get a complete understanding of Sun’s strategy, market, value proposition, and unique cultures.
People continue to play the game once they are Sun employees; Sun even has a leader board to spur competition. “This is a legitimate formalized learning activity for new hires,” says Beckham. “In the process of playing they get ramped up very quickly.” Sun has discovered that by providing the ability for users to interact and to add comments and content to its site, it has attracted a core group who actively participate in the company’s online community.
Sun Microsystems has been taking an inventive approach to many aspects of its onboarding program, including: <ul><li>Utilizing user content development and sharing to make Sun’s Collaborative Learning Environment (CLE) unique </li></ul><ul><li>Using an immersive game to engage and inform candidates and new hires about corporate culture, organizational structure, and workflow to accelerate the timeline and effectiveness of the onboarding process </li></ul><ul><li>Developing the current program to adapt to changes expected in the upcoming fiscal year </li></ul>
Collaborative Learning Environment <ul><li>The collaborative learning environment at Sun is applied across multiple learning domains. The CLE platform is used as a template to service individual communities and guide users down the right path from the start. </li></ul>
The Motivation Behind the Site Sun wanted to be a presence in the Web 2.0 world. It wanted to build a corporate onboarding site with a new concept – one that would look like, act like, and be similar to the kinds of websites younger workers are familiar with today. Sun wanted its site to be accessible to people before they even considered becoming employees. So the site was designed to attract potential new hires, provide continuity for them to make onboarding more productive, and still be accessible to people not employed with Sun.
No More Static Web Pages To that end, Sun had to think about its new hire site as more than a typical static web page . The site needed to consist of a Web 2.0 infrastructure that allowed users to add their own content, publish their own pages, and add ratings and comments to the existing content on the site. “The whole process is designed to draw attention to the site, drive participation, drive motivation (through the gaming perspective), and then to drive consistency to keep individuals using the community aspect of the site and to participate.” The idea behind Sun’s new hire website was to begin with an expansion on a four-door learning model with categories deemed important to Sun. Sun’s primary requirement was to have a secure, scalable, access-control mechanism so that different levels of users see only the appropriate content. Employees can log in to the site to see employee-specific material, but each also provides information for visitors and potential applicants. In short, the site supports Sun’s concept of a truly collaborative learning environment.
Going After the Best & Brightest <ul><li>Sun’s CLE is tailor-made for the next generation of workers. “We wanted to go after recent graduates and the best and brightest to build and integrate into Sun culture,” explains Charles Beckham, CTO at Sun. </li></ul><ul><li>This younger generation of workers (who have been raised with the Internet) is used to having a certain level of interactivity in their web experiences and are dependent on it in much of the software they use. </li></ul><ul><li>“ How fast Sun gets employees to understand what it does is the key to driving profitability.” </li></ul>
The CLE Platform The collaborative learning environment at Sun is applied across multiple learning domains. The CLE platform is used as a template to service individual communities and guide users down the right path from the start. “This is distinctive from what companies may be used to in the learning domain,” says Beckham. “In the past 10-15 years, systems have been very learning management system-centric. In the new world, the LMS still plays a role, but only as a part of the infrastructure. Instead of having multiple sites that people might visit while seeking information, Sun’s system brings that together in a Web 2.0 fashion.”
Learning in a 2.0 World: Write your own Content
<ul><li>Five questions Sun asks about onboarding </li></ul><ul><li>What's onboarding all about, anyway? </li></ul><ul><li>How do we deal with concepts of time? </li></ul><ul><li>What do we do for different roles? </li></ul><ul><li>How much content is right? </li></ul><ul><li>Where do Learning 2.0 tools (games) fit in? </li></ul><ul><li>Another important question: Does it enhance our values? Sun Values are: </li></ul><ul><li>Courage </li></ul><ul><li>Collaboration </li></ul><ul><li>Innovation </li></ul><ul><li>Integrity </li></ul><ul><li>Pace </li></ul>
Concepts of Time in Onboarding <ul><li>“ The question is,” says Selix, “how do we wrap our arms around new hires, acculturate them, and make them feel like they belong?” The company thought about two concepts of time—time relative to start dates and the information needed, and time related to the company cycle (quarters). “There is a tolerance people have for training. Thirty hours the first week will not work.” Also, different roles may need different types of information. </li></ul>
Conclusion With its current new hire design, collaborative learning center, and visions for 2009, Sun Microsystems is well on its way to creating a company focused on integration and collaboration. “Sun has this environment where it is asking people to collaborate on content,” says Selix. “We have an opportunity to use all of that collaborative energy to make the company better.” The total investment for Sun’s new hire site was around $100,000, but senior leadership realized it was low risk and low cost. Sun brings in 3,000-5,000 people each year—leaders understood the importance of quickly acculturating new hires and accelerating their time to performance.
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