Starting a job can be stressful for a new employee and is a critical part of setting the tone of their employment. It can be a crucial part of maintaining a successful business that makes the best of its bright talent. Getting a new employee settled quickly means that they will be up and running on the job quickly – it can also anticipate and eradicate potential performance and communication problems effectively. However, induction isn’t always at the forefront of an employer’s mind and is often overlooked or mismanaged. Consistency is often lacking both in the amount of time input a new employee receives, and the amount and quality of information available to them. It’s important to clarify the induction experience so that a thorough and consistent level is maintained for all new employees. Here are some tips for improving your business’ induction procedures.
To make sure all employees receive the same good level of treatment it is a good idea to formalize a checklist to be adhered to whenever a newcomer arrives. Having a list means that nothing will be forgotten in the induction process, and in time, the process will become ingrained and more naturalistic and effective. The basics include starting with introductions to management and relevant teams, with clearly outlined expectations of new employees – this includes office hours and breaks allocations, office layout and organizational charts being made available. Information about communications should be clear, ie, who the employee should talk to if they are unsure about any formal issues relating to their employment.
The induction process requires a degree of coordination and management to be effective and to fit it in among the other parts of the working day. Having one individual responsible for induction is a good way to foster consistency and attention to detail for the process. An individual whose main task is taking care of new employees must receive training, either informally or as part of a business management training course which will equip them with the necessary know-how for the role. If the number of staff is too large for one person to take care of all inductions, that person should be in charge of managing and coordinating inductions. This means that they should have the master checklist and oversee the integration of new employees to keep things consistent and efficient.
Many inductions seem to rush ahead of themselves, leaving new employees blinking with incomprehension. Structuring the first day around very basic things such as workstation set up with a functioning phone and a computer will help newcomers to feel at ease and not overwhelmed by information which they cannot yet process. A tour of the building and facilities should be part of the first day’s timetable, as should be the completion of any paperwork or other HR-related material. A run-through of safety procedures and information about fire exits, along with introductions to employees with first aid training should be standard. Talking a new employee through company dress code, culture, working hours and pay periods should also not be overlooked. And to keep things more light-hearted, if your company participates in any ‘extracurricular’ activities such as fundraising days, sports events or even more informal events, new employees should be made aware of these.
Week One Plan
We’ve all been there – once the introductions are over and the computer has been set up with email, a sense of ‘now what?’ descends. It’s important to have detailed plans for new employees so they aren’t left floundering. Remember that whilst they are qualified to do the job they do need time to learn processes, new software and company protocol. Make sure that they are comfortable, occupied most of the time and that they have a dedicated person whom they can ask questions of. Demonstrate to them the clear lines of communication with other departments, and try to keep things light and fun for the first week – this will help to make a newcomer feel at home and at ease – crucial for productive and high-quality work.
Once the induction is over an employee may feel slightly overwhelmed and abandoned. Make provisions for furthering the process by setting attainable targets for the first few weeks, and schedule catch-ups with the new employee to check up on them every week or so. A mentoring program is a great way to foster new employees in the right way – assigning them to someone with experience of the working environment and company structure will benefit them greatly. Mentorship also fosters pan-departmental collaboration and cross-training so that new employees can see the business from more than one angle.
Whilst consistency is key, employee induction processes should be works in progress – with each new employee the process can be streamlined and made more effective, to make sure newbies hit the ground running.