For organizations striving to attract quality talent and retain potential leaders, onboarding new hires has taken on mission-critical importance. This is particularly true for organizations that are targeting so-called “millennials” as new hires but have found their existing onboarding processes incompatible with the habits and lifestyles of today’s potential employees.

One world-class example: Marriott International, whose Voyage virtual onboarding program is based on ON24’s Virtual Learning Environment. Our Virtual Learning Environment provides Marriott’s future leaders with 24/7 access to training, tools, and resources they need to develop their leadership skills.

Marriott Voyage recently won two prestigious WhatWorks Awards, which are presented by Bersin by Deloitte during the IMPACT annual conference, the industry’s flagship conference on HR and talent. The Bersin WhatWorks Awards program recognizes innovation and excellence in critical areas of HR, learning, and talent. The Marriott team won the “Developing Tomorrow’s Leaders” category award and also the overall WhatWorks grand prize, which is awarded based on votes from conference attendees.

So, what has the entire HR community so excited?

Marriott’s Voyage program has set the bar not only within the hospitality industry but for all organizations trying to recruit and retain top entry-level talent. Aside from the results – which include a strong pipeline of highly-trained entry-level leadership and a consistent global experience – what makes Voyage so exciting is that it involved a complete redesign of the onboarding experience to match exactly what recruits were looking for.

Marriott Voyage was created to supplant the company’s older, paper-based system, which wasn’t cutting it in an extremely competitive war for talent. The old system simply didn’t have the scale or opportunity for interaction that are essentially “table stakes” in today’s recruiting environment. What’s more, the system didn’t map to how most of today’s new hires live their lives – plugged in and on the go.

In order to develop a new way of onboarding new talent, Marriott conducted a variety of focus groups, including college students, new managers and recruiters. Recruits wanted a mix of on-the-job and more formal learning and networking opportunities. This feedback gave Marriott the information they needed to distill the most valuable elements from their existing system while establishing a migration path to a new and more collaborative and accessible system that mapped to the needs of today’s new hires and its own global footprint.

The results

Since it started in 2013, 902 Voyagers have participated in the program in more than 37 countries worldwide. Of the Voyage graduates, 99 percent have been placed into roles within Marriott.

Voyage has been so successful that it not only functions as an onboarding platform, but managers also use the system as part of the company’s recruitment strategy. Candidates visiting Marriott’s HR page are invited to experience the program for themselves. They get to navigate throughout the environment and observe the available resources.

Managers can also view how employees are doing within the program, examine how much time they have spent, and determine next steps in terms of their hires’ professional growth. Feedback includes which individual training materials are being consumed and what type of device is being used to access the information.

Throughout the program, participants have access to a virtual portal where they collaborate with other Voyagers, access program content and interact with senior leaders via live webcast sessions. A recent innovation is a virtual hotel simulator that program participants can use to test their skills across a wide range of unique and everyday workplace scenarios.

You can read more about Marriott’s results in the June 2015 issue of Human Resource Executive. Marriott and other WhatWorks Award Program finalists are also featured in a follow-on report by Bersin by Deloitte here.

Congratulations to Marriott for this well-deserved recognition. Based on our state-of-the-art Virtual Learning Environment, Voyage has helped Marriott solidify its position as one of the premier employer brands for millennials.