An effective induction will help your new team members to feel welcome and fit in quickly.
Michelle was so excited when she started her new job only two weeks ago– a Promotion and new Position which she was so excited to begin! But now she's questioning whether it was a good career move after all.
On her first day, her computer hadn't arrived, Nobody was tasked to show her the ropes and her manager – Helen – was out of the office. She's barely spoken to her since her job acceptance and is still waiting for her job description. And when she asks her new colleagues a question, they're often too busy to help. As a result, she feels like a burden and is becoming increasingly isolated, demotivated and unhappy.
Similarly, Helen is unimpressed. She's often away and out of the office, so she trusts that her team has shown Michelle the ropes. So why hasn't she made more of an impact? She was such a bright, capable candidate at interview – a real go-getter – but she's like a different person: confused and withdrawn. After a costly recruitment campaign, she feels somewhat cheated.
This scenario can easily happen if a company doesn't have a proper process in place for new starters. This article explains what an employee induction program is and why it's so important and will help you how to implement one successfully.
What Is an Employee Induction?
And what Makes a Program Successful?
Effective inductions are delivered in time for a new starter prior or as they begin their role, it’s engaging and gives a good first impression of a company. They inspire new starters, to learn about the organisation, their role and how they fit into the team.
They also teach them the technical skills they need, and provide them with valuable information such as "who's who" in the business.
Simple things such as, how do I get paid, who do I notify if I’m ill, what are the break times and many other questions a new starter will have.
If done well, the induction process will allow a new starter to lay the foundations for important relationships within his team and across the wider organisation, and give them the best possible start in the organisation.
Conversely, a poor induction program is either too full-on or not thought through properly. The most frequent complaints new starters make is that they're overwhelmed, bored, or left to "sink or swim." This can leave them feeling confused and make them less productive. If a new starter becomes disengaged, it may be very difficult to re-engage her. She'll soon leave, and you'll have to begin the recruitment process again.
Why Inductions Matter
The recruitment process can be time consuming and costly, so you want new joiners to contribute to the business as soon as possible. In fast-growth businesses, this can critically affect whether the business meets its potential or not.
An effective induction program – or the lack of one – can make the difference between a new employee successfully integrating and leaving very quickly. Research shows that this can affect engagement, staff turnover and absenteeism levels, and the employer brand.
When a candidate accepts a job, they may have to work several weeks' notice in their current role. So it's important that you, as his prospective manager, maintain contact with Them and keep them engaged during this time. If you fail to do so, they could lose interest, change their mind, or – worse still – go to a competitor. The Pre-Start Day checklist, below, will give you some ideas about how you can keep in touch.
A Best-Practice Guide to Successful Inductions
Don't leave your induction process to chance. Follow these steps, so that your new starter hits the ground running!
Planning an Induction
There are several important questions to ask when you are designing an induction program. These include:
- How experienced is your new hire? It's important to tailor your approach depending on who you're inducting, so that the program is fit for purpose.
- How formal do you want it to be? You may not need a rigid structure if your company is small, but it might be more efficient to run group sessions, for example, in a larger organization.
- What first impression do you want to give?
- What do new starters need to know about the work environment?
- What policies and procedures should you show them?
- How can you introduce new joiners to co-workers without overwhelming and intimidating them?
- What do you need to provide them with (desk, work area, equipment, special instructions, and so on) so that they're ready to go from day one?
- How can you make sure that the right people are available, so new team members feel informed and valued?
- Where is your new starter based and what are her hours? If they work remotely or has different shift patterns to you, you'll want to coordinate schedules, at least for the first few days.
Ask for feedback from recent hires about their inductions and integrate any useful suggestions into future programs.
Create a Checklist
Now it's time to create an induction checklist, so that you're fully prepared for your new starter's first day. Divide tasks into pre-start date, day one, end of the first week, month one, and beyond. Here are some considerations for each stage.
While a checklist is helpful, don't let the induction become just a tick-box exercise. Both you and your new starter should take responsibility for making sure that all items are thoroughly covered.
- Send your new employee useful information. In the main, companies send over information pack which can be a total overload. We recommend you move to digital inductions for providing this kind of information, so that they can familiarise themselves with the company at leisure. Try our example here
- Get them to highlight any skills gaps, so that you can incorporate appropriate training into his schedule. You'll get them working more productively by planning this now.
- Consider inviting them to meet the team informally, such as at a social event.
- Prepare their workstation, so that they have the equipment they need.
- Assign them a mentor or "buddy" to show them around, make introductions, and help with any day-to-day questions.
- Send a company-wide "welcome" email, copying in your new recruit.
- Do a "walk-around" the office and introduce them to key team members. Limit numbers, if you think it might become overwhelming.
- Don't forget to show them the bathroom, fire escapes, water-cooler, and kitchen, and explain when lunch breaks are usually taken.
- Cover essential admin, such as forms, computer access, email signature templates, ID cards, health and safety information, parking, security passes, and office supplies. Don't do it all at once, though. Intersperse housekeeping activities with other parts of the induction.
- Give them an overview of the company (including mission, vision, values, and corporate culture), the department and the team. Explain how their role fits in.
- Run through their job description and person specification, so that they understand their tasks and responsibilities.
Start with the basics but don't cram everything into a one-hour session. People become productive sooner if they understand the fundamentals of their jobs first. Focus on the why, when, where, and how of the position before you hand over any assignments or projects.
- Discuss the skills gaps identified by the Training Needs Analysis, and the available learning and development options.
- Provide details (phone numbers, email and Skype addresses) of all of their key contacts, including the number of the IT helpdesk!
- Give them a copy of your induction checklist. This will help to reduce her anxiety about any "unknown unknowns."
End of Week One
- Continue filling in the gaps. Introduce your new starter to anyone who wasn't available during his first few days.
- Discuss his role in more detail and start him off on some tasks. This will help them to put what they have learned into practice.
- Agree objectives and timescales for them to work toward during their probation period and explain how their performance will be assessed.
- Make sure that they fully understands work practices, policies and appropriate behaviour.
- Be available (either in person or over the phone) to answer any questions that they have.
During the First Month…
- Meet regularly to check that your new team member is settling in and has everything she needs.
- By now, you'll know whether she requires any further on-the-job or formal training, or could benefit from some coaching
- Make sure that you organise this quickly, so that she's able to contribute fully as soon as possible.
- Give them regular, ongoing feedback on how they are performing. Provide practical advice and arrange job shadowing or mentoring to any thoughts they has about you, the induction program, and the company in general. You can use this to improve the process next time around.
... and Beyond!
The induction process doesn't simply end after the new starter's first day, week or even month. It's your responsibility as a manager to engage new recruits
, make sure they grow into their roles, and, ultimately, pass their probationary period. Successful employee induction is an ongoing process!