Posted Wednesday, February 20, 2019 by Team Northwoods

Onboarding Made Quick and Easy in Human Services

Time is of the essence.

It takes time to document information. It takes time to learn each child’s story. It takes time to build trust with families. And before all that can take place, it takes time to train workers on new technology.

But what if you could train caseworkers well and save time?

Northwoods has categorized some key steps that you can take to efficiently train new workers on your technology (even if it’s not  Northwoods’ technology!) and related processes so that they can focus on doing meaningful work with the people who matter most: their clients.

We believe the onboarding process can be as easy as 1, 2, 3plan, learn, apply. Here’s an overview of what we recommend happens at each step, plus some specific examples of how we help customers’ new hires get up to speed on our products through Northwoods University.

divider-footerStep 1: Plan.

The success of any project can commonly be traced back to a successful plan. Step 1 prepares for success by outlining an efficient and structured chain of command.

Who’s in charge of walking through the basic functionality of your software? Will someone else help your new worker apply the software in the field or as part of their daily work? What if they have questions over time? 

The chain of command also acts as a support network and mentor for the new hire.

To begin the onboarding process with our customers, we encourage your agency to identify the new hire’s software trainer/coach as soon as he or she starts. The coach will then request the new hire’s access to Northwoods University and, if necessary, provide any information needed for them to log in or understand how to use the system.

divider-footerStep 2: Learn.

Step 2 empowers the trainee by presenting all the context, information, and technical foundation needed for them to hit the ground running and focus on the more pressing needs of their jobs.

Allowing the new hire to learn individually can benefit everyone: the new hire gets to move forward at his or her own pace, while the trainer can spend time on other activities. This is especially important for those trainers who have another full-time role or other responsibilities in their agencies.

Northwoods University is the source for online training for all of Northwoods’ solutions. We encourage new hires to watch a quick introduction video, and then complete the relevant courses that correspond to the products in use at your agency.

The courses provided by Northwoods University do the teaching for you. The modules are practical and specific to what a new worker will encounter. After the courses have been completed, the trainer/coach can analyze the new hire’s results and pinpoint which topics need additional review.

divider-footerStep 3: Apply.

Effective application of your technology will ensure the new hire’s ongoing success and sustained adoption over time.

The trainer should be involved in the application process to ensure the new hire is well coached and confident to take the information they have learned and put it to use. It is important for a new worker to be confident in their abilities as they navigate complex cases and try to rise above the emotional toll of daily tasks.

At Northwoods, our goal is to help you help others, which is why Step 3 is so important.

After the new hire has completed all their Northwoods University modules, the trainer/coach should conduct role-based training to show the new hire how to use what they learned from the videos on a daily basis. This is a key opportunity for the coach to share best practices and their expertise with the new hire.

divider-footerTechnology is all around us—improving our lives, making mundane tasks faster and easier, and bringing efficiencies to the workplace like never before. Embed technology into your onboarding process and watch adoption improve.

Bring in new hires, send out prepared workers ready to change lives.

Psst! If you’re a Northwoods customer reading this, remember that in addition to Northwoods University, the Customer Portal is another hub for onboarding resources. Your Customer Success Manager can provide you with our official onboarding checklist too and any other resources you may need.


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Carrie Heinze, Director of Customer Success By helping customers successfully use our software, we help them meet their missions, strengthen families, and potentially save children. This is the North Star that guides Carrie Heinze, director of customer success. Carrie and her team are the connectors between being empathetic for the superhero work that our customers do today, and recognizing the opportunities where we can provide resources to help them do even better tomorrow.