Developing an induction program: First impressions really do count

Being the ‘new kid’ at work isn’t always easy and is bound to be a little daunting for most. After investing time and money into hiring, how do you welcome your new employees? Do you set them up for success or do you have them second guessing their decision to join your business?

It’s often been said that first impressions count. Your new employees’ first few days and weeks play an important part in shaping how they perceive you as an employer and set their expectations about what it’s like to work in your business. How new employees are inducted can say a lot about the culture and operations of a business. Is it a professional environment set up to help employees achieve results or is it a world of chaos and confusion where mediocrity rules?

An important reason to get your induction and on-boarding process right is that it lets a new employee know just how much they’ll be valued and supported, as well as how successful the new employment relationship is likely to be. A proper induction is a great opportunity to reassure your new employee that they’ve made the right decision in joining your business.

We’ve all either been there or heard of first-day horror stories that leave you cringing! You know the ones, where you turn up to work on your first day and you’re left waiting in reception because no one remembered that you were coming or when your manager forgets to assign you a desk and you have to ‘set up shop’ in the tea room for the first couple of days? Awkward!

In order to avoid such cringe-worthy moments and, more importantly, to help set your new employees up for success, we thought we’d outline a few things that will help make the on-boarding of new employees simple.

In our experience, the whole induction process is two-fold. There’s an induction piece and an on-boarding piece. So what’s the difference you ask? Well, the on-boarding piece encompasses all of the administrative-type tasks. Things like setting up a workstation for your new employee, giving them access and login details to relevant systems and networks, confirming their payroll details, etc.

Even trivial things like making sure they have the right stationery counts. Don’t make your new employee waste important initiation time searching for a pen that works and something to write on other than paper out of the printer (not such a great first impression!). Getting these basic things right can make a real difference to how welcome a new employee feels and will also enable them to hit the ground running faster.

We’ve developed and run a number of different induction programs across a variety of industries during our time in HR, but there are always some common things we include to cover off with all new employees:

  • Background of the business – how you came about, where you’ve been, where you’re going, key goals and strategies, your competitive advantage, etc.
  • Company culture – what’s it like to work in your business, key values, ways of working.
  • Who’s who – who are the different individuals/teams/departments and how do they interact with one another.
  • Expectations – what the role expectations are, including things like targets and KPIs, etc, and how you prefer to work.
  • Key policies, processes and any systems training.

An induction doesn’t have to be complex or lengthy; try and make it as interactive and interesting as possible, with a good mix of “Need to Know” and “Nice to Know” information. Avoid death by PowerPoint and spread out induction activities across different days so that your new employee also has a chance to get stuck into the responsibilities of their role during their first few days too.

Try and give them some hands-on experiences as well, even if it’s not directly related to their role. For example, if you run a manufacturing business locally, organise a site visit so that they can see how the operations of your business unfold; or perhaps you’re a retailer, in which case, give your new employee a chance to work in-store so that they get to know your customers and understand your business better.

Understanding the operations of your business, particularly at the coalface, will give them a strong awareness of your business priorities and help them determine what they can do in their own role to help maximise results for overall success.

Finally, at the risk of sounding like Captain Obvious, make sure you introduce them to the rest of the team. Set them up with a ‘buddy’ who can show them the ropes, share their experiences and have lunch with! Being the new kid + having no friends at lunch = not a fun first day!

Putting in place a planned and structured induction program is a great way to kick-off your employment relationship with your new employees and get them really excited about the fact that they’ve just joined your business. This means they’ll be engaged and motivated to help see your business succeed from the very beginning. Plus, the less time they spend trying to find their feet, the sooner you start realising the financial return.

Janelle McKenzie and Abiramie Sathiamoorthy are the co-founders of E&I People Solutions. Janelle has a hands-on background in HR, her philosophy is all about providing practical solutions that offer businesses real value. Abiramie has worked with a range of different businesses to set up or enhance their people processes with an end goal to help create high-performing teams.

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