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Induction: Begin as your mean to go on …

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“Begin as you mean to go on, and go on as you began…….”
― Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Induction or onboarding as it is also known is a process where employees are received and welcomed to an organisation.

It is important to make a meaningful first impression to an eager new member of staff.

It is a method of formally introducing the employee to their work location and colleagues.

A clear understanding of the employee’s job, role and responsibilities and the mission and values of the wider organisation is provided at this time.

An effective Induction process will ensure that the employee is supported in achieving expected performance levels. It will also ensure that the new employee is aware of the importance of teamwork and their role within the team.

Preparation should begin well in advance and before new employees arrive with the Pre-Induction checklist.

Your employee induction process is often what makes or breaks an employee’s experience at a company. A great induction or on boarding experience helps settle your new employee in, and avoid workplace issues in the future.

Some basic principles to apply to any induction process should include the following:

Be organised: Prepare an induction checklist

It need not even be that long, however, it is recommended at least some form of a checklist that covers the basics of your employee induction process and provides some structure to the process.

For example, you can include items such as:

  • Office/work times
  • Layout of office
  • Security issues and access to the office
  • Safety procedures
  • Introduction to team members
  • Introduction to team leader or direct manager
  • Performance standards and expectations of the new employee
  • Team roles and responsibilities
  • Organisational chart
  • IT systems

Welcome

It’s quite easy to become so fixated on getting your new employee up-to-speed that you forget to encourage them to feel welcome.

There are a number of activities you can do, besides the usual ‘walk around and introduce them to everyone’.

For example;

  • Get the team together and go around in the group and ask each individual to tell everyone something unique about themselves.
  • Buy a couple of helium balloons and tie them to the new employee’s desk.
  • Get everyone to sign a ‘welcome to the team’ card.
  • Enjoy a team lunch on their first day
  • Post a welcome on your company social media accounts.

Job description

A job description does not need to be long and academic. List out the most important duties, as well as experience and skills.

For example, we keep ours strictly to one page with the following headings;

  • Role title
  • Role duties
  • Reporting structure
  • Skills required

These need not be long, however, it is very important that it is truly reflective of the role.

Company values and vision

In the first few days, it is vital that you sit down with the new employee and take them through your company values and vision and what they all mean.

Ask your recruit what the values mean to them and if they have any questions.

You will find this a lot easier if you prepare a good document that helps explain your company values beforehand.

The Buddy System

If you can, ensure that your new person has a team member that they can rely on to ask questions and help them settle in.

It is good to assign a member of the team to be their induction “Buddy” (I.E: There go-to person for any questions and general settling in advice) It’s a good idea to encourage the team to all pitch in and help with the small things, such as good places nearby to eat lunch, etc.

To encourage social interaction, one activity to try to do is have a Friday drinks or lunch at the end of the new employees first week.

This gives the team a chance to unwind together and interact with their new colleague in a relaxed and friendly environment.

Encourage your whole team to be involved

When many people think of employee induction, they have a vision of sitting in a conference room while a single presenter delivers a long-winded PowerPoint presentation for hours on end.

We encourage a different approach.

Sure, have a checklist as I’ve mentioned above, however, encourage different topic experts to deliver each segment, and spread it over a few days, to avoid overwhelming your new employee all in one day.

Outline your expectations clearly

Although your role description will carry some of the detail, it is important to lead each employee through the expectations you for them, along with why they are important to the company success.

For example, if you have a policy around booking leave in advance, ensure you explain the policy and give a reason why, for example ‘We ask that people give four weeks notice, so we can prepare your colleagues to cover your workload effectively whilst you are away’.

There are many situations that policies or at least documentation could be created for the benefit of communication.

Anything you expect, you cannot just assume that new hires, or even existing employees, will just now by instinct.

Follow up regularly

Do not just complete your first weeks induction and leave it!

Schedule a face to face with the new employee after a few weeks, and find out what is going on with them, what challenges they have found integrating with your team, etc.

It is vital in those early days that you are easily accessible by any new employee, so they can learn and understand your expectations and vision for the team.

Feedback

The best way to improve your employee induction process is to ask your recent hires about their experiences.

For example, these three questions normally yield some good answers;

  • What is something you wish we had explained better in the first week?
  • What’s one piece of advice you would give to the next person who is hired?
  • How could we have done a better job of your induction? What could be improved?

This gives you great feedback to consider and include in your future inductions, as your team grows.

A successful employee induction process sets up an employee for a great experience with your company; however, if this process does not go so well, it is more likely your new employee will have a difficult time at your company, perhaps even resigning down the track.

For this reason, employee onboarding should be taken quite seriously.

You need to quickly determine what you can do to maximise the likelihood that an employee will be successful with the company and then focus your induction around these activities.

Ask yourself:

How do we support our colleagues settle in on their first day, first weeks, months etc?

What was your first day at work like?

If it was positive, can we mirror that experience with our newer colleagues?

If not, how can we use this experience to learn, in order to improve the process?