How we use Trainual to onboard new employees

Ali McGhee
6AM City
Published in
5 min readJan 4, 2022


The cloud-based platform powers our playbook by offering real-time edits, searchability, customization options, and more.

Two women work together on a computer.
All divisions of our 6AM City team access our playbook via Trainual.

How many times have you looked for job-related information, like best practices and style guidelines, only to be left scratching your head after unsuccessfully combing through nested menus on Dropbox, Google Workspace, or your own hard drive? Or maybe you have a physical folder somewhere that your boss handed you on your first day, now filled with outdated material?

When you’re new to a job, this kind of frantic, fruitless searching can get your head spinning and your mind off of your critical training tasks. Even after working for months or years in the same role, we inevitably need reminders of processes and procedures that are sometimes hard to find.

As 6AM City has expanded to 24 markets across the U.S., having an up-to-date, accessible playbook that gives new team members all of the essentials, but that can also be used by all of our employees, has been one of our highest priorities. In 2019, we moved all of our training materials onto Trainual, a cloud-based SOP (standard operating procedure) platform. The results have been clear. Trainual is a living, dynamic archive of resources that has become vital for onboarding new employees — while also supporting our tenured staff. Here’s why it works for our onboarding process.

Trainual’s Desk shows data on assigned subjects.
Fig. 1. Your desk (the front page of Trainual) shows you how much you’ve completed overall and lists the subjects assigned to you.

It’s in the cloud.

As we’ve grown, we’ve added staff dedicated to training. However, it’s still not always feasible for one team member (or even a few) to be on call and help our employees navigate to critical information, and there’s no reason for us to be information gatekeepers. We needed to put the power directly into the hands of our entire team. Trainual makes our playbook accessible to anyone on our team, anytime, via their web browser. All they need is an internet connection.

It updates in real time.

Because our playbook lives in the cloud, updates happen immediately when team members make changes. Whether we’re fixing a typo or sharing the latest information on an important process, it allows us to be responsive and speedy, supporting our credibility long-term with our team members and our audience. No more waiting for days or weeks for someone to make needed changes and re-upload files or re-print handbooks.

It’s searchable.

Trainual’s search function is a game changer. All told, we have about 22 hours of training-related content. And while not everyone has to complete all of it, it still breaks down to be a lot of material. All of our modules have clear names and descriptions, but a simple keyword search is often a quick way to find what you’re looking for. You can also favorite modules you use frequently by starring them.

Example of a Trainual subject on Coaching Resources.
Fig. 2. Starring a subject you frequently use will add it to your “Favorites.”

About that length of time.

Trainual estimates how long each module will take to complete, meaning that team members can get a sense of how much overall time to devote to working through the playbook. Completion estimates also guide managers as they create training schedules for new hires. Bonus: Trainual tracks completion, so you can support people getting to the finish line. It also auto-emails reminders to finish incomplete subjects.

Trainual subject (“Internship Program Onboarding) with progress bar showing 100% completion.
Fig. 3. A Trainual subject includes a progress bar and a completion time estimate.

We create the user experience.

Trainual lets us fully customize how we onboard people. That means that our division experts get to decide how it’s laid out and how it will make the most sense to our newest team members. And because it’s easy to make changes, we can update the structure as needed.

Trainual’s user interface is very simple, both for staff creating content and for end users. It’s easy to embed images and gifs, add links (including links to other modules in Trainual), and create and embed videos (Note: Professional accounts allow creation of videos in modules using Loom; other users can embed third party videos). We can also add tests — and set minimum passing scores — to help people recall key processes. All of these options make the platform more engaging.

All team members get involved.

Through Trainual’s recently unveiled “Directory” feature, all team members at 6AM City can create their own personal page, which might include a bio, pictures, social media links, and more. We send a fun questionnaire to all new team members to get them started, and they post their answers on their profile.

Housing staff profiles in Trainual — and giving our employees ownership of those profiles — means we all frequently check Trainual as new people are onboarded, and we update our own pages regularly. That also means that we’re on the platform often, which makes us likelier to complete anything outstanding.

It’s also easy to grant custom permissions to team members. No single person is in charge of all of the material, which means editing power is dispersed across divisions and among a few team members. For quality control purposes, we do have one person responsible for Trainual overall. As 6AM’s Culture and Team Development Leader, I approve and publish new content, address technical issues, test and unroll new platform features, and provide additional support as needed.

What solutions have you found for keeping your company playbook accessible and up to date? We’d love to hear about them.



Ali McGhee
6AM City

Culture and Team Development Leader at 6AM City — engaging local communities by creating new ways to consume, participate, and share local content.