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In this case study, we will use a facilitated question and answer format to reveal the tactical approaches to global onboarding and the overriding and strategic framework driving the implementation of Northern Trust’s new Employee Orientation program.

Over the past several years, Northern Trust had grown to over 100 offices in 12 countries worldwide. This includes many different cultures in multiple time zones. As a result of continuous expansion in EMEA, Northern Trust had new hires in existing offices, new offices in new countries, and new employees due to acquisitions. In each case, but with the acquisitions, Northern Trust needed to orient these new employees to the company. This orientation had to include information about their job, systems, benefits, etc. and had to instill a feeling for the company culture.

Northern Trust is an old company with a rich history and culture. The foundation of this culture is “The Principles that Endure,” which drives how they conduct business and how they treat clients and employees.

Although nothing was necessarily predetermined, they knew 2 things:

  • They would have to utilize the web because of the geographically dispersed audience; and
  • It had to have a personal touch/human side, which led the team to prefer an Instructor-led component.

As a result, the learning solution incorporated a mixed-media approach, and it was just a matter of determining which medium for what information.

The design team needed to stay conscious of wording and phrasing in job aids for several reasons:

  • Regions use slightly different words or phrases to mean the same thing. For example, in the US, they used the term new hire. However, in the UK and India, they call them new joiners. So they wanted to make sure to use the same terms used in the regional offices.
  • Due to region and country-specific laws that drive local processes and organizational structure and systems issues, the team needed to customize some things at the region level. For example, while all regions use a new hire checklist and other job aids posted on an intranet portal, they have slightly different content.
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