Human resources management is the strategic approach to the management of an organisation’s most valued asset – the undeveloped potential of its people.
Your people are a direct link to your bottom line and as a business you need to foster a culture that offers encouragement, motivation and productivity. Your people have varying needs for career advancement, support and development to understand and fulfil their roles.
Ultimately your team’s performance directly affects your business and its profitability.
Each of your organisation’s policies, induction procedures, performance management programmes and procedures, training and operational manuals, showcases your company’s ability to educate, support and monitor your team’s performance against your goals and their capability.
Clear and well defined systems, policies and procedures, including regular feedback and performance appraisals, are vital to enable your team to meet your expectations and their own
Imagine a brand new employee steps into an organisation and without being told anything about their position or what is required of them and without meeting any of their colleagues they are expected to begin work. That doesn’t seem right! Now imagine the same situation but in this case a half-hearted attempt is given to show the new employee around. Still not ideal!
Well how about, the new employee is given a forethought and committed introduction to the company that is both formal and informal in nature, where they learn about their position and organisation, are given training relevant to the position, are encouraged to ask questions and challenge the existing status-quo, and can interact with their colleagues. That’s more like it!
The latter process is induction at its best. This report will begin by showing that the transformation of new employees into productive members of an organisation does not happen by chance, or by bare minimum introductions, but by organisations that prepare and execute high quality induction programs. It will then provide best-practice guidelines for any organisation to use in forming an induction program under the three main stages: planning, implementing and reviewing.
Induction means making the new joinee feel comfortable, taking him/her through the company vision, mission and different branches with the help of power point as well as introducing him/her to the key people in the organisation.
The purpose of induction is to help new employees settle in to their new roles quickly, happily and effectively. Additionally, if we want new members of staff to grow and develop and to take responsibility and act on initiative we have to show them at an early stage that the organisation will help them do these things. Induction is the ideal place to inform them of this organisational commitment. A good induction programme will ensure a smooth ‘on-boarding’ for the new recruit and where he/she soon feels part of the team.
Areas that need focus in inductions:
1. Company’s mission and vision
2. Company’s culture and values
3. Top management and organisation chart
4. Photographs of top management
5. Different location setup of the company along with their descriptions.
6. Company’s initiative
7. Recognition received from customers
8. Milestones achieved
In order to guide the planning and implementation of induction programs and to review their effectiveness appropriate objectives are required. Objectives will be unique to each organisation so that they can meet the organisation’s overall mission and vision. However, it is recommended that objectives pertain to the following areas for a successful induction program:
1.Employees become effective and efficient at their respective positions within the timeframe of the induction programme
2.Retention rates are higher than industry standards
3.Absentee rates are lower than industry standards
4.Employee motivation and satisfaction remains high at the cessation of the induction program
5.Employees are aligned with company goals and culture
6.To maintain employee allegiance to the company management instead to an outside third party
7.Create a sense of pride and ownership in the new recruit
Benefits of induction
Effective Induction has been seen to deliver a number of benefits:
- Increasing commitment. Where the employee identifies with the organisation and wants to stay with it and they are more prepared to work on its behalf. The first step to achieving this is to present the organisation as one worth working for. The ideal time to do this is during the initial Induction period.
- Clarifying the psychological contract. It makes sure that the new member of staff is aware of the implicit, unwritten beliefs and assumptions about how employees are expected to behave. By being aware of the “way things are done around here” new members of staff are quicker to make an effective contribution to the organisation because they know what is expected of them.
- Accelerates progress up the learning curve. An early and systematic approach to identifying development needs will ensure that the new member of staff learns more quickly what they need to know to increase their contribution to the company. Induction readily provides the firm foundation from which they can further develop.
- Socialisation. If the new member of staff quickly makes effective relationships with colleagues they will settle in much more readily, therefore, contributing earlier and more fully to the organisation and its progress.
Consequences of poor induction
It is often the case that other work pressures will mean that time cannot be found to tell the new employee what he/she needs to know, unless specifically set aside for such purposes. This can have serious consequences:
- Poor performance
- Low job satisfaction
- High staff turnover
- Resignations or dismissals
- Tribunal cases – if employees complain of unfair dismissal because of inadequate training and high demands on managers
- Accidents leading to injuries and or prosecution (mistakes which are costly to the company)
These are all strong reasons for getting induction right.
When implementing an induction programme there are a number of areas that need to be considered. When does induction start? The induction period should begin prior to commencing employment. It is suggested that the new start receive a personal letter of welcome from their line manager and some information on what to expect on their first day, lunch arrangements, etc.
The letter should also request that the new member of staff report for work at the time that work starts; this allows everyone in the company to be prepared. A copy of the induction programme planned for them should also be provided.
The next stage of the induction programme is referred to as primary induction. This part of the Induction process would normally be expected to have been completed by the end of the first or second week. This primary induction should consist of introduction to:-
- the people – colleagues, relevant managers and directors and other associated personnel
- the workplace – guided tour of location, including key areas such as fire exits, toilets, tea and coffee
- the organisation – issue of company information including background, mission statement, business objectives
- the role – identification of job description, key objectives and responsibilities, key working relationships, confidentiality, conduct, expected standards of performance
- health and safety – explanation of accident and safety procedures
- terms and conditions – contract, working hours, absence notification, holiday entitlement, probation period, discipline, competence and grievance procedures
- the office – Explanation of telephones, filing systems, computer systems
It is best to avoid swamping the new employee with too much information, as it is unlikely to be retained. Include information that will allow the employee to settle in sooner rather than later and leave less urgent information for later e.g. disciplinary policy.
The next stage of the induction programme is referred to as secondary induction. This part of the induction process would normally be expected to have been completed by the end of the first three months. The focus here should be on the introduction to more specific training and development.
The ideal Induction programme should be presented utilising a number of different formats, not just the traditional “chalk” and “talk” format. It should make more use of active learning. By utilising a number of formats we have a better chance of the learning being effective, because people learn in different ways; by observing others, by constant repetition/practice, by making decisions based on facts and by learning through experience.
People involved in induction
Whoever is responsible for induction should encourage different colleagues in the organisation to be responsible for different parts of the Programme, according to their different areas of expertise. This has the dual benefit of allowing the new member of staff to get the information they need, from the most appropriate person, and of allowing them an opportunity to meet and get to know their colleagues.
There is also merit in allocating the new member of staff a “buddy” to help them through the initial stages of their new role, with particular reference to job specific training. Ideally this should be someone who is experienced in the “ways” of the organisation and the job role to which the new member of staff has been appointed. After the initial Induction period a Mentor may then be assigned to the new member of staff.
The paperwork that supports and records Induction does not need to be lengthy, it could just be a checklist of what an employee needs to know, who will tell them and when. If an Induction Programme is very complicated it can become difficult to manage and organise; as a result there may be the temptation to “miss bits out”. It is also essential that the paperwork is user-friendly to ensure that there is consistency in delivery of the programme.
When the Induction programme is completed the completed paperwork should be stored in the new member of staff’s file.
- What specific information/data will be collected and why?
- What are the business drivers/requirements for the collected information/data?
- When and how will that information/data be collected?
- Who will be responsible for the collection and disbursement of the information/data collected?
Evaluation of induction
What staff needs to know will change regularly, therefore an Induction programme needs to be reflective of these changing needs. A systematic evaluation should be carried out between the line manger and the new member of staff at the end of the primary induction period.
This review meeting should be structured around a more formal questionnaire. The results of the questionnaire should then be forwarded to the person in the HR department who has overall responsibility for Induction. It should be that person who ensures the programme continues to meet the needs of staff.
(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.)
Getting induction right
Successful implementation of an induction programme
To successfully implement an Induction programme there are a number of factors that must exist.
- There must be a documented structured programme
- There must be senior management commitment to the process
- Middle managers must find time to deliver and support the process
- There must be someone who takes overall responsibility for Induction within the organisation
- Those responsible for Induction should be clear that all new members of staff require to be inducted; including those who move role within the organisation, those who transfer from different divisions/branches and temporary staff covering for things like long-term sickness or maternity leave.
- Induction must be seen as the starting point for continual development of individuals
- General induction, as discussed here, should be fully supported by a similar programme of structured job specific training for the new member of staff.
As the business environment continues to change, what is expected of the induction program will also change. Furthermore, it is highly unlikely that it will be planned and implemented perfectly. Therefore, constant review is required to improve the process.
The review’s primary focus should be on whether the objectives have been achieved. To determine this, performance should be benchmarked using key performance indicators (KPIs). KPIs prescribe the level of performance expected in a particular task for it to be considered productive. If KPIs aren’t met the planning and implementation stages should be altered to improve future performance.
There are numerous ways to gather the feedback required to review the induction program. Feedback forms or questionnaires are a good start. These collect information from all relevant parties – the inductee, the managers and other stakeholders – to determine their perceptions on the effectiveness of the induction.
Observing the new employee at work is another method of gathering data. The purpose of observation is to establish if the employee has become productive in their position. In addition, the objectives themselves should be constantly reviewed. If the business environment changes to an extent that the organisations current induction objectives do not meet best-practice, then they should be reviewed and updated.
Generally, the review will results in changes that can be made to future inductions. However, managers should have a flexible approach so that the induction can be changed even during the process. For example, inductees could be asked at the outset of the induction what they expect from it.
If there are any gaps between expectations and the current program, then every effort should be made to close them before the cessation of the induction. Keep in mind that each employee if successfully inducted can add value to an organisation. It is worth the effort to get every induction right.
An induction is a process whereby new employees are introduced into an organisation. It takes two forms: formal and informal induction. This article showed why organisations should have in place high quality induction programs. The benefits of delivering such programs are ultimately highly productive human resources, whereas the consequences are unproductive human resources.
New employees are costly, there’s no denying it. However, if nurtured successfully their benefits can be exponential. Therefore, induct, induct, induct.