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Strengthening induction to equip and empower staff

Global Induction Programs: Welcome to MSF | Advanced Induction

In MSF-Operational Centre Geneva (OCG), less than 20% of the global workforce received an induction training through PPD (“Préparation aux Premiers Départs”) or Sanou (which means “Welcome” in one of the languages spoken in Niger) in 2016. Not onboarding new MSF staff can have detrimental consequences for both staff and MSF. It can set up a new employee for failure, inhibit workplace efficiency, and change an employee’s outlook on the organization. More specifically, the impact on our humanitarian programs could be significant – affecting security, staff integration, retention and ultimately our beneficiaries.


    What problem are you trying to solve?

    Acknowledging the current mobility of our global workforce and the increasing diversity of recruitment, the Global Induction Project aims to dramatically improve the induction content, process, and coverage. The training program will provide essential institutional, operational, and technical knowledge to equip and empower staff in their new roles. This training improves staff organizational values, principles, and practices; improves the quality of professional relationships between different collaborators, and positively influences security in the workplace and our duty of care. The Global Induction Project will provide access to basic and advanced knowledge about the organization and its ways of working and has been declared a strategic fundamental initiative for OCG.

    What is your solution? What motivates you to work on addressing this problem?

    The Global Induction program will ensure that all locally recruited staff have the right to receive induction training. This means moving our target from 20% to an ambitious 100% of staff inducted and is in line with MSF’s global workforce ambition. We know that providing all staff with induction training during their first few months is quite ambitious, and we will therefore consider a training rate of above 90% a success.

    We developed two levels of induction programs: “Welcome to MSF” for all new joiners, and “Advanced Induction” for those starting a field management role. Each employee, national and international, irrelevant of being hired at HQ, in partner sections or in the field, should get the same Welcome to MSF induction within the first few weeks of their starting date. This initial training will be taking place at whatever location the new MSF recruit is hired.

    While Welcome to MSF is only two days long, the Advanced Induction lasts for up to eight full days and takes place in regional learning hubs, or sometimes in mission countries. Advanced Induction will be a transversal program for all staff to sit together and learn people management skills, project life cycle, project management and ways of working in the field.

    Providing these two levels of induction will ease the start of the journey of new staff and new managers, allowing them to better understand MSF, and become efficient in their work quicker.

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    What have you done so far and what results have you achieved?

    The curriculum for the two-day Welcome to MSF program is finalized, and we had our first pilot in Geneva in September 2019. We will also have a pilot in Greece that includes Training of Facilitators and Welcome to MSF, both in Athens and in the field. The Global Induction Project will conduct a second field-based pilot with the same Training of Facilitators in Kenya in November and December. Facilitators will take over organizing the Welcome to MSF induction in their regions.

    Advanced Induction design should be completed by the end of 2019. It will be taught by professional trainers in the regional learning hubs, due to the more complicated nature of this more extensive management training.

    Finally, both levels will have digital learning components, for a blended-learning experience.

      What challenges have you faced? What lessons have you learned?

      As the scope of the project is so wide, touching all our workforce independently of their profiles, background and level of responsibility, it is challenging to propose content and activities that will speak to everyone and keep the audience interested. By approaching it from a “learner-centered” perspective and using design thinking methodology, we tried to find the best fit for all and will test it throughout our pilots.

      The Advanced Induction is also challenging, as the 8 days will be transversal, and all departments will be involved in the design and development of the content. By identifying one referent per department, we try to balance the whole program and build something that will be relevant to all. The delivery of, and access to Advanced Induction is also challenging, requesting some key staff to leave their missions for approximately 10 to 15 days – which is why we keep the option of having onsite field delivery, too.


      “New MSF staff members must be able to quickly adapt to new, challenging situations. Their introduction is key. We welcome this project as it will help us ensure that our induction program is aligned with the realities of today,” – Cristina Gherghe, Finance Coordinator/HR Coordinator, MSF Switzerland (Greece Mission).

      Are there any interesting partners that you are collaborating with?

      We continue to involve the other MSF operational centers. OC Barcelona/Athens is our sponsoring partner, and we have benefited from an active collaboration with OC Paris and OC Brussels during our 2019 pilots. We believe that intersectional mobility will reach its fullest capacity once all sections have a shared program and a globally defined induction at different career levels. We are taking this responsibility very seriously and know that it is only through collaboration with the other sections that we will be able to earn the ‘global’ part of Global Induction. The support received from the other OCs has been very positive, and with hard work we hope to reach shared induction formats that are as close to being identical as possible.

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        What is the expected long-term impact of the project? How will this project improve MSF’s lifesaving work and the lives of MSF’s patients?

        The Global Induction Project will work to facilitate mobility and a stronger shared culture that will improve our ability to deliver on our social mission in a more timely fashion.

        We believe that if the entire MSF movement can share induction tools, we will set up all our employees for success from the very beginning, and standardize manager development in the field. By taking a blended-learning approach, we also want to influence the way we learn in MSF and contribute to the cultural change of “learning to learn”, encouraging our global workforce to be more autonomous in their learning by providing them with the right access to tools and information. The “learner-centered” approach is also a way to innovate the way we are delivering training in MSF, by helping learners build their own learning experience through active participation and collaboration.

        We also believe that shared inductions can create a culture where all employees learn about our social mission and what is expected of them. We expect standardized inductions will result in better care for beneficiaries, improved community awareness, a stronger internal culture, and improved retention – benefiting our social mission.