The journey towards the digitalization of the Pocket Guide and the Induction and Orientation Process for the Public Service of Namibia

September 12, 2023

The public service of Namibia, like many other public service organisations all over the world is large and complex. , It can, therefore, be difficult for new employees to learn everything they need to know about their new role, procedures, reporting lines and ultimately delivering efficient and effective services. Added to this challenge is the absence of induction and orientation training across the public service. The traditional paper-based employee manual, a A5 Pocket Guide format, while novel twenty years ago, was an effective way to communicate this information, but it was difficult to keep it updated. In recent years, there has been a growing movement towards digitalizing several processes across the public service. 

To improve both access to public service specific information and to enhance the onboarding experience for new employees, the Office of the Prime Minister, reached out to the UNDP Accelerator Lab.  It was a simple enough request – to keep up with the 4th Industrial Revolution, assist in digitizing the outdated Pocket Guide as well as enliven the induction and orientation process. It would have been relatively easy to just update the content and information and convert a pdf. version into a flipbook or use one of the readily available tools to animate it. But if there is anything I have learnt as a Digital Advocate,Advocate, we should start with designing with the user in mind and understanding the existing Ecosystem. And so, we embarked on yet another interesting learning journey which involved co-creating the solutions, content and designing around the needs of public servants and their environment. 

1.           The first step was to run an online survey for all employees about their digital habits. This survey helped to identify the challenges of going completely digital, but also helped us understand types of digital content that employees would find engaging. It also helped to identify the gaps in the existing employee manual.

2.           The next step was to triangulate the findings of the survey by conducting focus group interviews with learning and development officers and integrity champions across the public service. These interviews helped to gather feedback on the existing Pocket Guide, and they also helped to identify the key topics that should feature more and be covered in the digital version.

3.           A three-part iterative process was used to design micro-learning modules to support the content in the Digital Pocket Guide and entice new and existing employees to learn about the public service and how it functions. This process involved working with multidisciplinary teams and subject matter experts to develop the content, and it also involved testing the modules with employees to get feedback on what was working and what wasn’t. The first part of the process involved creating a content map. This map identified the key topics that needed to be covered in the modules. The second part of the process involved designing the individual modules. The team used a variety of methods to create engaging and informative modules, including videos, infographics, roleplays, hot spots, interactive exercises, quizzes and collecting badges after competing these as part of an assessment strategy. 

4.           The new version of the digital employee manual, fondly referred to as “The Pocket Guide 2.0” will be launched was launched towards the end of 2023.  We hope it will be well-received and we hope that by abiding by UNDP’s 10 Digital Standards it will what we hope will be a learning revolution.  The new system will not only be more user-friendly, and it also aims to be more effective at communicating important information to new employees. 

The Learnings

There were several learnings from this project. First, it is important to involve employees in the design of the new solution. This ensures that the solution meets their needs and that they are more likely to adopt it.

Second, it is important to use a variety of methods to create engaging and informative modules. This will help to keep employees engaged and ensure that they retain the information.

Third, it is important to test the modules with a group of both old and new employees before launching them. This will help to identify any areas that need to be improved.

The Future of Digitalization

The digitalization of the Pocket Guide and the induction and orientation process is just the beginning. If the public service is committed to continuing to digitalize its training and development programs, the Pocket Guide 2.0 and the Platform we have co-created and developed will help to ensure that public servants have the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the 21st century workplace. The Pocket Guide 2.0 is a significant improvement over the previous paper-based system. It is more accessible, engaging, and informative. The project has also shown that the public service can use innovation to improve the way it onboards new employees[ab1] . My next and last blog on this topic will highlight the critical success factors on the sustainability of the Pocket Guide. I will also share key insights drawn from the learning journey as well as provide recommendations on measuring impact for learning.

I hope this blog has inspired you to think about how you can use digitalization to improve your organization's onboarding process.