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A staff induction is an important ritual that all employers should use to engage with new employees from the very beginning. The process should be a central part of onboarding and every organisation, whether small or large, should be tailoring an induction programme to enable their new employees to feel at ease from the moment they arrive.
According to a survey conducted by XpertHR, one-quarter of people say that staff induction is a very low priority in their workplace. However, 90% agreed that induction is the most important part of training for new employees. What’s more, only 68% said their induction process was a success.
When you consider the fact that just under one-quarter of new recruits leave their posts within six months, staff induction is crucial to get right. In this article, we’ll go through the purpose of staff induction and what it should look like.
What is a staff induction?
Unless you’ve been involved in running inductions, you might be wondering, what is an induction?
When someone starts working at a new organisation, how they first experience their new employer will have a long-lasting impact. For this reason, it is important to make a positive first impression by providing an effective and welcoming induction experience.
A staff induction is a process by which new employees acclimatise or adjust to their new working environment and job. This can encompass many different things, including orientation events and socialisation within new teams. Many businesses refer to this whole process as ‘onboarding’. Generally speaking, a new employee will learn the ropes, understand the organisation’s ways of doing things, and will be brought up to speed with what their new role requires of them.
No matter how small or large an organisation is, there should be a well-thought-out induction process that means new employees have a positive first experience of the company.
The nature and length of an employee’s induction will depend upon their background, the nature and size of the organisation, and the nature of their new role. A one-size-fits-all induction course is unlikely to be successful and so each new starter should have a tailor-made programme to suit.
What is the purpose of a staff induction?
An induction into a new workplace means that newcomers can integrate into the new organisation with ease. Staff induction programmes also benefit employers too as when they’re well-run, they increase employee job satisfaction and commitment and reduce absenteeism and turnover.
When employees start a new post, it can be anxiety-inducing. A proper induction can help to alleviate any anxiety and it enables newcomers to learn more about their role, ways of working and the organisation. It’s also an opportunity to meet colleagues.
All new recruits will need to learn about the culture, organisation, people and expectations of the job. This means that a multi-faceted induction will be needed. There might be important health and safety or safeguarding aspects to cover as required by law as well as more practical information like the facilities and working environment.
What’s more, an induction will introduce new employees to the systems and working arrangements with regards to shift times, flexible working, annual leave requests, etc.
Who needs to have an induction?
All new starters need an induction and managers are responsible for this (while being guided by Human Resources). There will be some groups of people who have more specific induction needs, for example graduates, apprentices, and people returning from parental leave or long-term absence and career breaks. New directors, senior appointments and technical specialists will also need specific programmes of induction relative to their new roles.
For these reasons, induction programmes should be tailored to the individual. Even when staff are not new to the company but have a new role, for example transferred staff and promoted staff, there should be some form of induction. Induction is also needed for temporary staff on fixed-term contracts, despite their roles not being permanent.
When would a staff induction take place?
An induction programme might take place over several days or even weeks. Depending on the employee’s current commitments, there may be some form of induction before beginning the new role. Typically, though, a staff induction will take place during the first days and weeks of employment.
It’s important that this is planned carefully so that people don’t get overloaded with information on their first morning and be put off.
What are the benefits of a staff induction?
When a staff induction is well-designed, it will create a positive initial experience for the employee in their new organisation. It will allow them to settle quickly and integrate into the team straight away. What’s more, the new employee will develop an understanding of the company’s culture and values. They will become productive very quickly and work to their potential sooner – all while feeling supported.
If a staff induction isn’t effective, new employees won’t get off to a good start. They will lack the clarity they need to perform in their role and won’t understand how they fit into the organisation and its goals. Ultimately, this could impact whether or not they decide to stay in the role.
When staff turnover is high (whether this is down to poor staff inductions or otherwise), it leads to numerous issues including extra time and cost for recruitment, time wasted on inductions, lower staff morale, and potential damage to the brand.
What is the staff induction process?
This depends entirely on the nature of the business and its size. It also depends on what role the new recruit will have.
All of this aside, the induction process should cover all of the organisational procedures in the organisation. For example, the orientation of the building, diversity and inclusion, and health and safety. There should also be information about procedures and systems, the company services and strategy (i.e., company behaviours and values), and job-specific information. The new recruit should also be introduced to others in their team.
All of this should mean that new employees have something in the diary during the first weeks of their employment and should know where they fit in the company and how their work links with others.
The induction process is also a good time for employee networking. This could be as simple as company social media platforms or more organised social initiatives.
Information in the induction process doesn’t have to come in the same format. In fact, it’s best if there are lots of different approaches. Some information might be given in individual meetings, some might be reading, and some might be shadowing someone, for example. No matter how the process is managed, it should be an engaging, positive experience for new starters.
Before starting employment
Lots of companies now pay attention to their new employees’ experiences before they start their employment. They spend time ensuring all pre-employment communication is engaging and might even use social sites like LinkedIn and Facebook to put new recruits in touch (this is more common with graduate intakes, however).
Once a new recruit has undergone the initial induction process, it’s important for HR and managers to consider any ongoing support needed in the first few weeks and months of employment. Setting up a mentoring or ‘buddy’ system is a good way of giving new employees a place to go for support.
For larger organisations (as well as some smaller ones), the induction will be more formal and will include group learning sessions as well as one-to-one discussions. There are many advantages to this. For example, new employees will have a consistently positive message that portrays the right company culture, values and brand message throughout. Secondly, it means new recruits can socialise and build relationships while getting to know the job and each other.
However, if all new recruits go through the same formal process, companies do run the risk of doing a one-size-fits-all approach that isn’t tailored to individual employees. It might also mean that timing isn’t right. The induction could, for example, be scheduled weeks or months after the new recruits have joined the company, which means information is shared too late. It also might mean that the process is too impersonal and bonds can’t be made between managers and new employees.
What needs to be included in a staff induction?
No matter the induction format, there are certain things that should always be covered in an induction. This includes things like company policy and compliance. That said, a staff induction should never be treated like a ‘tick box’ exercise. However, it might be useful to formally record some of the training received, i.e., GDPR training, safeguarding training (when needed), cyber security training, and health and safety training.
Here is a list of useful things that could be included in staff induction.
Prior to start date
- New employee data forms (to be able to set up accounts, payroll and benefits from the start date).
- DBS (if needed).
- ID check (proof of legal right to work in the United Kingdom, if needed).
- Contract signing.
- Organisation handbook or literature for familiarisation.
Start date – health and safety
- Evacuation procedures and emergency exits.
- Awareness of first aid procedures and facilities.
- Introduction to health and safety policies.
- Accident reporting.
- PPE policies (if needed).
- Safeguarding training (if needed).
- Specific hazard training.
- Smoking policy.
Start date – workplace compliance
- Security procedures.
- Signing in/out procedures.
- GDPR training and confidentiality.
- Training as required due to the nature of the organisation (e.g., bribery, modern slavery, child sexual exploitation, female genital mutilation).
- Work pass/security pass.
Start date – facilities
- Site map and orientation (canteen, toilets, first-aider location).
- Guided tour.
- Computer and telephone system (including distribution of IT equipment, if necessary).
- Car park pass.
- Opening hours.
- Flexible/remote working tools.
- How to access systems, file sharing, communication tools.
Around start date/first week – company orientation
- Company history and background.
- Organisation chart (departments/global).
- Company strategy/mission statement/company values.
- Brand concept.
- Company products and services.
- Quality assurance procedures.
- Customer care information policies.
Around start date/first week – policies and benefits
- Pay (method/payment date/tax/National Insurance).
- Workplace pension scheme.
- Other company benefits.
- Expenses and claims (e.g., mileage).
- Working hours including break arrangements and flexitime, if applicable.
- Annual leave/holidays/special leave policies.
- Probation period.
- HR policies.
- Diversity and inclusion policies.
- Wellbeing policies – including sickness/absence procedures.
- Policies for internet/intranet/email and social media use.
- Performance management/appraisal system.
- Disciplinary procedure.
- Grievance procedure.
- Whistleblowing policy.
Start date/first week – information specific to the role
- Job description/clear role requirement outline.
- Introduction to ways of working and the team.
- Meet immediate line managers and key personnel.
- Orientation on how employee role fits into the organisation.
First few weeks
- In-house courses and other developmental opportunities.
- Personal Development Plans and CPD.
- Career management.
How to conduct a staff induction?
As well as things you should include in a staff induction, there are also things that need to be avoided. For example, it’s important not to provide too much information too soon. It’s very easy to be overwhelmed by too much information, especially when it’s your first day!
Another thing to bear in mind is pitching to the right level. All presentations and information need to be tailored to the people you have in front of you. If you’ve got someone who is experienced and has switched from a similar role at a competing company, you shouldn’t pitch at the same level as you would if you were taking on a graduate in their first post.
The process of inducting new recruits should be a shared one. HR should play a role, as should the new employee’s line manager.
You should also avoid generating unreasonable expectations during the induction process, i.e., don’t oversell the job. There should also be a balance of compliance, admin and organisational culture and values.
For an induction programme to be effective, it should be engaging. It also needs to be reassuring for the new employee – They need to be made to feel that joining the organisation was the right decision.
One final point to consider is an evaluation of the induction process.
If new recruits are given the opportunity to evaluate the induction process, it means this can be improved for subsequent new recruits. This can also help understanding staff turnover too, particularly if exit interviews are conducted with leavers (and especially those who leave within the first year of employment).
Final thoughts on staff inductions
A staff induction is an essential part of recruiting. Employers need to consider this process just as mindfully as they do the interview process. With a well-pitched, well-organised induction process, new recruits will feel ready to start their job and not be overwhelmed. As a result, they’ll be more likely to stay at the company and have a good impression of the organisation they have joined.