New staff: the importance of induction and some key steps

How can you ensure you support new staff so that they get off to the best possible start?

 

What is induction?

Staff induction activities are designed to provide new-starters with the practical information they need, as well as getting them up to speed on how the organisation works. Induction processes are vital to ensuring that new staff are productive as quickly as possible.

Yet most organisations have inadequate or ad-hoc staff induction processes — with many relying solely on staff just ‘working it out as they go’.

Staff induction often focuses on the corporate policies: safety, security, anti-discrimination, etc. This is useful information, if not the most interesting to participants.

However, staff induction should also cover practicalities. This includes:

  • how to conduct common administrative tasks — changing a phone number, obtaining a business card, ordering stationary;
  • what key information systems exist — such as the intranet; and
  • how to get around the building — security, floorplans.

New starters who miss this initial training are left unsupported and untrained. To address this, additional resources must be set aside to provide ongoing training for new staff, or for staff who have moved between different areas of the organisation.

Supporting the orientation of new team members — whether an internal or an external appointment — is often an overlooked strategy in building your employer brand.

Induction can assist with cultural change

New starters are unfamiliar with the environment and processes of the organisation, so it is the ideal time to induct them into a “new” way of working.

In this way, new starters can be “shaped” in order to achieve cultural change, such as:

  • encouraging the intranet to be used as the primary information source
  • overcoming the “silos” within the organisation, by providing a holistic view of the organisation

Induction can assist with knowledge transfer

By formalising knowledge transfer, or providing a more rigorous framework for informal transfers, new starters can be provided with the information they need to conduct their work.

Induction can help build social networks

One of the main frustrations for new starters is not knowing who to contact in the organisation if they have a question. This is reflected in the comments of long-serving staff: “Well, I’ve been here for 10 years, so I just know who to go to”.

Staff induction can specifically address this, by introducing the new starter to key people in the organisation.

Approaches such as mentoring or ‘buddying’ are particularly valuable in addressing these issues.

Involve all business units

Staff induction is not just a human resources issue. Instead, induction activities should be developed with the involvement of all relevant business units — for example, security, IT, assets, etc — to ensure that new starters are given a complete picture.

How to maximise the organisation’s investment

Here are three actions you can take to ensure that you support your new appointees in their first few weeks in the organisation so that you increase their chances of staying with you and so that they get quickly orientated to your organisation’s ways of working:

  1. Plan ahead — prior to the new candidate joining you, make sure that you have their workstation, office supplies and equipment in place. All too often someone joins an organisation and for the first few days they do not have the tools to do their job due to lack of foresight and planning. You can be sure that the candidate will find this frustrating and it does not present you in a professional manner.

Consider assigning a buddy who they will be able to speak with in relation to day to day operations and who can support them through their orientation period.

  1. Make time to talk — as the employee’s line manager, ensure that you plan time in the calendar to meet the new hire ideally at the beginning and end of their first day. Have their calendar planned out for them in terms of meetings, but take the time to meet with them at the end of their first week to check-in with them as to their impressions on the role. This also provides you with the opportunity to provide them with feedback on your view of their performance in the first week.
  2. Put the role in context — although you explained the role at the employee’s interview, when a candidate starts in a new role, it is important to reinforce key accountabilities, relationships and the objectives relevant for the role. Agreeing performance criteria up front will ensure that the new candidate is clear about your expectations of them and sets a frame work from what the success criteria are for the role.

These may seem like very straight forward steps to take. However you can be sure that most organisations do not spend time on these actions and therefore put at risk the return on recruitment investment, leaving to chance the success of the new candidate.

Following through with these three steps will support you in building your reputation for an organisation that is interested in new hires getting off to a great start and will support the development of a strong employer brand. The first 90 days in any new role is a challenging time for the new candidate, their team and the organisation. Give them the best possible start and maximise the organisation’s investment in their new employee.