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New Associate Orientation



New hires can start any day of the month instead of three specific days.

Map - Ohio
Company History
Chapter Look and Feel

This 90-minute eLearning module is taken by all newly hired associates on their first day with Newcomer Funeral Service Group. The course provides information about Newcomer, our history, locations, and organization structure. New associates "meet" their Human Resources partners and the Newcomer family and learn about the importance of our Core Values and how we serve our families. They also learn where to find important information, how to clock in and out, and review key policies. 

I wore many hats for this project:

  • Project manager

  • Instructional Designer

  • eLearning Developer

  • Video producer (preparation, filming, editing)

  • Graphics designer

  • Audio coordinator (found talent, wrote script, edited final product)

I initially met with the L&D manager to understand the resistance and barriers we were facing and created a department document that listed each barrier and made sure they were addressed in the initial design proposal.


I focused on how we could increase interaction and engagement that wasn't a part of the current orientation approach. The live webinar consisted of an L&D team member presenting a power-point using screen-sharing and audio only, with no cameras. Participants joined from across our 10 states and very little interaction was built into the presentation and often, participants were quiet and hesitant to ask questions or share information.


I ensured all current topics were incorporated and each topic had an interactive element. Our proposal included an accountability process for managers, manager training, and a pilot group to work out any problems or concerns before launching Company-wide.

The course is designed for open exploration using an interactive menu and section sub-menus to keep track of progress and navigate non-linearly between topics.

Course topics and interactive elements:


    • Video and visual instructions for navigating and completing the course​

    • Welcome video messages from the head of HR and the HR Business Professionals that support the locations


    • Interactive timeline of our history

    • Interactive map of our locations containing key information for each market/location


    • Video of Home Office Associates sharing how they incorporate our values into their daily work​

    • Reflection activity asking participants to share how they will incorporate our Core Values


    • Self-exploration of our Credo

    • Video of the Newcomer Family discussing their history and vision of Newcomer, now and into the future


    • Interactive organization charts for Operations and Home Office that include pictures of department/regional leaders​

    • Guided audio story showing how our Funeral Home and Home Office teams support a family that has lost their loved one


    • Scavenger Hunt activity designed to get associates comfortable with our Intranet and how to find information​


    • Exploratory activity that helps associates become comfortable with funeral terminology​

      • Over half of our associates are part-time and are new to the industry​


    • Interactive activity that guides participants through clocking in and out and transferring time​

      • Most of our part-time associates are retired and new technology can be challenging to learn​


    • Self-guided exploration of key policies all associates are held accountable to​

    • Audio summary of policies they will read and formally sign outside of this course


    • Short explanation of what new associates will experience over the next several months​

When I was hired, New Associate Orientation was a 2-hour live webinar that was offered every other Monday and one Saturday a month. Because we have locations in 10 different states, in-person sessions weren't practical, and our limited offerings made it difficult to hire associates.


Our HR leaders had limited experience with eLearning, and while they recognized the need for a new approach, they were resistant to a self-paced approach that would feel cold and disconnected. The L&D manager had been trying to influence a new approach for the last 12-months.

Specific concerns included:

  • Loss of connection without a live instructor

  • Participants wouldn't absorb the information - click through screens quickly

  • Managers wouldn't ensure new hires completed the course - HR was no longer in control

  • New hires wouldn't have a positive experience during orientation

  • Information would be static, power point slides that associates read and clicked through

Our careful planning and thoughtful design was a success. The pilot project identified a few areas to adjust, and we quickly implemented our new approach to New Associate Orientation.

Overall Timeline:

  • Early August 2016:

    • Initial L&D Meetings​

    • Project Outline and Plan Development

  • Mid-August 2016:

    • Plan approved and Prototype Design​

  • September 2016​

    • Prototype Approved​

    • Developed Course

      • Created player, interactive menu, experiential activities

      • Created video, audio, and graphic elements

      • Developed manager training

      • Created a step-by-step process from the time the offer was accepted to successful completion of the course

  • October 2016

    • Pilot with three markets

    • Gathered feedback from managers, new associates, and HR Team

    • Made necessary changes

  • November 2016

    • Implemented across all markets​​​​​​​

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