In the past, we have all started working at places that just expect us to “hit the ground running” and become productive extremely quickly. Many of us have worked at places that regard an induction programme as a waste of time, or think that a quick tour of the building should be sufficient. This clearly showed that the distinction between a familiarisation and an induction was not known.
First cut is the deepest
But as we know it, the first day at work is a memorable experience in our working life. Most of the ‘first impressions’ we have of this day remains forever. Professionally organised and delivered induction training is your new employees’ first proper impression of you and your organisation, so it’s also an excellent opportunity to reinforce their decision to come and work for you.
Induction serves a two-way need, i.e., 1. To create a sense of worth and pride in the candidate so that he/she can feel a strong sense of happiness and belonging with the organisation. It helps in building a strong loyalty bridge between the candidate and the organisation; 2. Provides an ideal opportunity to start the candidate nurturing process, so that from day one the candidate learns to conform willingly and lovingly to the norms of the organisation.
This is usually done with the idea of making this introduction a pleasant experience to both the new joiner and the organisation. The new employee must feel welcomed and subsequently he/she will feel much excited and may develop a healthy mindset required to present their conduct in the new job.
Preparing candidates for their roles
In brief, employee induction provides new employees with the basic background information they need to work in the company, such as information about company rules. An induction programme is the process used within many businesses to welcome new employees to the company and prepare them for their new role.
Induction training should, according to TPI-theory, include development of theoretical and practical skills, but also meet interaction needs that exist among the new employees.
An induction programme is part of an organisations’ knowledge management process and is intended to enable the new starter to become a useful, integrated member of the team, rather than being “thrown in at the deep end” without understanding how to do their job, or how their role fits in with the rest of the company.
Good induction programmes can increase productivity and reduce short-term turnover of staff. These programs can also play a critical role under the socialisation to the organisation in terms of performance, attitudes and organisational commitment
The majority of new staff will need a similar type of induction. However, some starters may need a programme which is tailored to take into account their special circumstances.
For example, you could perhaps include training as part of their induction for school leavers. This could be job-specific or more generic – including numeracy and literacy skills. They must also receive adequate information regarding health and safety risks, as young people are more likely to be unaware of risks in the workplace.
For others with much professional experience might require the inclusion of detailed sessions based on their job roles. However for people returning to your employment after a long period away, you should make them aware of major new developments in the workplace – e.g. re-organisations. If you have introduced new ways of working since they last worked for you, they may need additional training.
Directors will need to know more about the finances, strategy and development objectives of the business than other workers. Workers with disabilities may have special needs in terms of access, using equipment and communicating with colleagues. As such you may be legally obliged to make reasonable adjustments to your premises and/or the worker’s job. You should also be sensitive to cultural or religious customs and make sure your induction process is not discriminatory.
Induction as a foundation
When you take on a new employee, it is important that you give them the right induction that will benefit themselves and your business. This induction period can be considered as the foundations for getting the most out of the employee and to determine their long term success in your business.
An induction should be given at the beginning of employment and may stretch for several weeks, or even months. During this time, the quality of the induction will have an effect on how the employee visualises your business and how well they will integrate into it.
If your new employee is to be recruited through an interview, then it is a good idea to start the induction at that specific time. Even if the applicant isn’t definitely going to be your new employee, it still gives them a chance to maintain interest in your business. In order to fully benefit the company and employee, the induction programme should be planned in advance. A timetable should be prepared, detailing the induction activities for a set period of time (ideally at least a week) for the new employee, including a named member of staff who will be responsible for each activity.
This plan should be circulated to everyone involved in the induction process, including the new starter. If possible it should be sent to the new starter in advance, if not co-created with the new starter.
It is also considered best practice to assign a buddy to every new starter. If possible this should be a person who the new starter will not be working with directly, but who can undertake some of the tasks on the induction programme, as well as generally make the new employee feel welcome. (For example, by ensuring they are included in any lunchtime social activities.)
What do they need to know?
You may want to start off with the overall look of the company moving through to the finer details. When informing the employee, you may decide it is worth while giving them a tour as you go over the relevant points. The following are guides for what you may want to include, but feel free to add anything that you feel is necessary.
Introduce your company by specifying the size (no. of employees, branches, etc), the history and how your company operates. The employee may have already researched your business but any additional information is always good to know.
Let them know about any procedures you have in your business. This may include the terms and conditions of employment, disciplinary action, and dress code. Also, show them what to do and where to assemble in case of fire. Inform them of anything concerning their job: give them a job description listing what tasks are involved, their responsibilities and accountabilities. Tell them what training is needed to match their job requirements. If tools, equipment, computers, etc. are involved, make sure they know where and how they can obtain it. If your business has many forms, letters etc it’s a good idea to build an induction manual for them to keep. The manual should show and explain the basics of completing, say, a form from start to end.
Where necessary, an induction manual can also cover systems and procedures relevant to the employees’ task. With an induction manual the main concern should be with the quality of its contents: take time, effort and care if you start this task!
Coming down to the personal needs of the employee, point them in the right direction of the toilets, cafeteria and anything else that they may require.
An employee’s involvement with other employees is important. Tell them about any activities/social outings that occur both in and out of work time. This could be a game of football after work on Tuesday or a pint of beer at the pub during Friday lunchtimes. Involving them early with the social side of working will give them a feeling of being ‘accepted’ and welcome.
When they need to know
As stated earlier, induction can start from the selection process such as the interview. But it is important that some things are brought to the new employees’ attention before they start their first day at work. This is the terms and conditions of employment which they may already have in writing if you issued them. Additionally, they will need to be aware of where to go, who they should ask for and what they should bring along to prepare for their first day.
You too may want to prepare for their arrival by making sure that you obtain any necessary equipment for them (working computer, safety gear, etc.). If you have involved others to assist with the induction (detailed later), create a timetable to let them know when they are required.
Some information may be given when your new employee actually starts their first day. This is a big day for the new employee and what happens will usually form the basis of their impression of your company. Make sure that they are made to feel welcome in every department they may venture into.
Often, this day is used to inform the employee about company procedures (outlined earlier) and to complete any necessary paper work concerning their details (bank details, P45 forms, etc). Introduce the employee to everyone that they will be working with. This way, there will be no strangers around when they come to work the following day.
It is important not to overload the employee with too much information on the first day as you don’t want them to forget the most important points (no one will remember it all). Remember: induction takes time to be successful.
Other things, you may decide to introduce when necessary during the course of their early employment. Within this period, it is the time when the new employee may start to compile a list of questions about the job or company. Have a ‘follow up’ appraisal to sort out any queries that they may have.
Who should do the induction?
If you are unsure about the best way to pass on the information, then leave it all to whoever will be the new employees superior. However, you may decide that it is relevant to break down the information to be given by the relevant departments. For example, your personnel department may inform them about employment contracts and procedures.
If the new employee will be working with others, you may offer the responsibility to one of his/her future colleagues. This way can benefit the new employee because they will be making a new friend at the same time and could see it as a doorway to their social involvement.
Whoever you allocate to do the induction, it will start to form a good relationship between those involved but it is mostly personnel from HR who takes up the task of managing and conducting the overall induction. But partially the responsibility of this so-called orientation also lies in the hands of the manager thus they must take an interest in finding development areas to enhance effect. Other departmental heads must give in their support making it addressing this as an organisational effort.
Let us now look at some the things that form the key items in an induction agenda. Well-planned induction training can greatly accelerate the development of this crucial organisational capability.
- New joiner – background of the job role or nature of the designation
- Induction schedule – A timetable of who does the induction during a time slot, ideal to be given to HODs of new recruits
- Induction presentation – Include company history/company values and most importantly vision and mission. Introduction to departments/functions and important designation of the hierarchy i.e. organisation structure. Local departmental amenities, washrooms, etc., Local security, time and attendance, sickness, absenteeism, holidays. Department tour. Customer service standards and service flow. Stationery and supplies. Job specific health and safety training. Dress code. Basic overview of the communication process.
- Induction evaluation – Helps to assess the effectiveness of the induction
- Some items that can be given to the new recruit under induction are:
- Employee handbook/manual
Company policy such as IT policy, SOX policy, etc.
Other processes documented
Here are some typical activities to include in the induction training plans for higher level people. The aim is to give them exposure to a wide variety of experiences and contacts, before the pressures of the job impact and limit their freedom.
- Site tours and visits
- Shop-floor and ‘hands-on’ experiences (especially for very senior people)
- Overseas visits – customers, suppliers, sister companies, etc.
A good induction can determine how quickly your employee settles into the business and the speed at which they develop to reach their full potential. Giving the employee all they need to know in relation to their time at your business will further determine its effectiveness.
The importance of how long the induction should be has been stressed throughout this article. Take as long as you need until you believe that the new employee has been integrated completely into your business.
Involve everyone that you feel essential to create good relations between the new employee and those that they will have connections with. Make the employee feel welcome and comfortable in all areas that will involve their presence.
Induction training is absolutely vital for new starters. Good induction training ensures new starters are retained, and then settled in quickly and happily to a productive role. On the point of values and philosophy, induction training offers a wonderful early opportunity to establish clear foundations and expectations in terms of ethics, integrity, corporate social responsibility, and all the other converging concepts in this area that are the bedrock of all good modern responsible organisations.
It is vital to recognise that coming to work is more than just about money and that is why it is important to believe in creating a great place to work for everyone. Great slogans do not necessarily make a great work place. This is best expressed in the manner Henry Ford puts it: “Coming together is the beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”
(The writer is the Managing Director and CEO, McQuire Rens Group of Companies. He has held regional responsibilities of two multinational companies of which one was a Fortune 500 company. He carries out consultancy assignments and management training in Dubai, India, Maldives, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. He is a much sought-after business consultant and corporate management trainer in Sri Lanka.)