getting to know you: the induction

The induction process forms a major part of onboarding and every organisation, large or small, should have one to help new employees feel as comfortable as possible in the early stages of their employment, and assist with getting to grips with their new role.

an effective induction process will ensure a new recruit is able to:

settle into the new environment

understand all aspects of their role

develop the skills and knowledge to do their job properly

understand how their role fits with the rest of the organisation and its objectives

understand the organisational culture and what standard of behaviour is expected of them.

tailoring the process

A good induction process is not a one-size-fits-all process: its nature and length is dependent on both the complexity of the job and the new employee’s background. It will also depend on the type of contract and include temporary and short-term appointments. 

a good induction process includes the following elements:

an overview of the company’s culture, values, products and services

physical orientation (where things are)

organisational orientation (how the employee’s role fits into the organisation)

awareness of other functions within the organisation 

meetings with key senior employees

health and safety (this is a legal requirement, see ‘achieving best practice ‘ in chapter 13) 

explanation of terms and conditions of the employment contract (see ‘what’s in an employment contract’ and ‘obligations of the employer and the employee’ in chapter 5)

outlines of the role and job requirements.

If you regularly use agency workers, sub-contractors and freelancers, extend the relevant parts of the onboarding process to include them.

The most important thing is to remember that any communication should be two-way:

a new employee is likely to retain less from being talked at for a few hours than they will if you can make some of the elements participatory. Asking for feedback on an element of your business could bring fresh ideas to the organisation. 

Business guru and author Geoff Burch advises that the owners or founders of small businesses should always make time for a new starter on the first day. The founder is the person who will be best able to share their inspiration and vision and therefore is the person best able to explain to the new employee what it is they are supposed to be doing and how they are supposed to be doing it.

individual vs. group induction

Ideally, all new employees should receive an individual induction programme, but if you have taken on a group of people then it may be appropriate to use a group process. A group company induction can be a combination of one-to-one discussions and more formal presentations aimed at a group of new employees during an induction course.

The advantages of a formal induction course are:

structuring the induction process for a group rather than for individuals saves time for both new recruits and managers

new employees are given clear, consistent information on the employer brand, values and culture

a range of communication techniques – including group discussions, projects and presentations, visits and guided tours, off-site training sessions as well as involvement with suppliers, customers and contractors – can be used

new employees can socialise during the process, thus building cross-functional relationships

it is relatively easy to arrange.

However, it’s not a completely straightforward choice, as there are disadvantages to a formal induction course:

group inductions can contain a range of subjects that are unlikely to appeal to a mixed ability group of new employees working in different areas

the convenience of holding induction courses weeks, or even months, after a new employee has joined the company can disrupt their integration into the work team

there is less opportunity to personalise it

it can contain too much information for a new recruit to assimilate in a short time

it may not be a true reflection of either the organisation or the job

new employees, already on a work team, may not be able to attend all the sessions if the induction is a series of presentations.

link to development and performance management

The induction process is the starting point for the new employee’s personal development within an organisation, and should help recruits begin to identify their own personal development plans and the start of the appraisal cycle (see ‘annual appraisals are changing’ in chapter 8). In fact, respondents in the 2013 AHRI Pulse Survey cited the induction and in-house training as the two most common learning and development activities. The induction of new staff and leadership training were also viewed as the most effective learning and development activities to achieve ROI.

As such, the induction process is likely to be a crossover function involving HR, learning and development and individual line managers.

A positive experience during the first few weeks reinforces a positive perception of the organisation and their decision to accept the job. A negative experience can lead to a swift decision to resign.

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