A Good Workplace Induction Process

FRANCIS KEATING
Health and Safety Consultant at EazySAFE
Should I stay or should I go? This is a question that most of us will ask ourselves having started a new job. You have gone to a lot of effort in seeking out a position, you’ve applied for it, prepared for and attended interviews, handed in your notice and have tried to make a good first impression at your new workplace. But yet most of us will invariably question whether we have made the right decision and the answer to whether we stay or go can largely depend on the effectiveness or not of the induction or orientation process.
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“A well thought out induction process is probably one of the most effective ways of ensuring that a new candidate will choose to stay rather than go.”
From an employer’s point of view, the hiring process can be lengthy and taxing in terms of resources and effort. Eventually the right candidate is chosen, but even the most ideal candidates are new to not only their specific role, but to the company philosophy, culture, health and safety policies, even where the toilets are located. An employer should seek to bring the new candidate up to speed as quickly as possible thus allowing for greater productivity, retention of staff and job satisfaction. A well thought out induction process is probably one of the most effective ways of ensuring that a new candidate will choose to stay rather than go.

The importance of having a good induction process

Retention and Morale

Retention of new staff is vital. The hiring process is demanding on both employer and employee. Most new employees will start a new job with high levels of motivation and will be keen to demonstrate to their new employers that they are the right person for the job. However, without an effective induction process, the journey for the new employee can be fraught with danger. The new employee will not be aware of the culture of a company, why things are done differently, why people laugh at jokes which weren’t funny at their last job, how to approach people when problems arise, etc. Task related issues will also compound the problem and eventually the new employee will lack confidence which could be interpreted by their peers as a lack of competence. This is a downward spiral which will be difficult to reverse and ultimately may lead to the new guy or girl walking out the door and not coming back.

Productivity

From a business point of view, productivity or loss of, should be a fundamental point to consider in the hiring process. Nobody expects the new person to slot straight in and to be as productive as an experienced employee but there should be an expectation that they will learn quickly and become productive in as short a time frame as possible. Short cuts and incorrect work practices will undoubtedly lead to a loss of productivity. However, an effective induction process should seek to teach people the right way of doing things from the beginning.

Compliance

Ignorantia juris non excusat (ignorance of the law excuses not), a legal principle which means that a person who claims ignorance of the law may not escape liability for violating that law. All business must comply with regulations and legislation in areas such as safety and environmental management. An effective employee induction process should seek to educate new employees about company policies and procedures which will in turn help to prevent incidents and possible litigation.

Reputation

A company’s reputation is vital for the well being of that company and never more so than in this era of social media. The induction process helps shape the first impression that a new employee may have of a business and this in turn will have an effect on future recruitment drives. The best candidates will delve a little deeper into the company when researching for positions and poor levels of retention caused by ineffective induction will result in the best candidates going elsewhere. Also, a company that provides a well thought out and structured induction programme will more than likely perform well across other areas of business such as customer service.

Getting started

While the benefits of offering an effective induction process are pretty obvious, statistics show that turnover rates of new staff are increasing. This suggests that induction processes are either non-existent or ineffective in many companies. Common complaints arising from ineffective induction include; boredom, too much information, too much irrelevant information and people being left to their own devices.

The following are some suggestions to help make your induction programme more effective and worthwhile.

Purpose of Induction

Understand the reasons why you are providing induction to a new employee. Remember that the induction process shouldn’t start and end on the first day, effective induction programmes should begin before the new employee arrives and should continue until the employee is an able member of the team.

Planning

As with any business process, proper planning and preparation are key to the success of inducting new employees. Ask yourself several questions such as;

  • What information do new employees need to know?
  • What kind of impression do you want to convey?
  • Are key people available to meet and greet the new employee?
  • What policies and procedures do new employees need to know straight away?
  • Can the induction process begin before the new employee starts their first day?
  • How long will induction process last? Effective induction programmes can last up to six months, the length of the process will depend on many different factors such as the employee’s previous experience.

These are just some examples of questions which will help you to plan and prepare an effective induction process. Another factor to consider is what format will your induction process take? Research has shown that effective induction programmes use a variety of formats to convey information. Here at EazySAFE, we offer an online induction course which can be tailored to suit the needs of your company. New employees can take this interactive course in their own time and will arrive to work on their first day with a good understanding of the company’s health, safety and environmental policies.

Checklist

Having planned out what you need to do, an effective way of making sure you cover what needs to be covered is using a checklist. Induction training should include the following elements;

  • General training which relates to the organisation, the values, structure and history of the organisation.
  • Mandatory training which covers issues such as health and safety, environmental management and other essential policies and procedures.
  • Job training which relates to the specific role that the new employee will fulfil.
  • Training evaluation which allows for feedback relating to the induction process.

Draw up a checklist for each of the above headings to include what information you want the new employee to receive. For general training include areas such as pay, holidays, canteen arrangements, who’s who, mission statements and ethics policies.

Mandatory training checklists should include company safety policies and procedures, environmental management policies, etc.

Job training relates to the specific role and should include areas such as use of equipment, introduction to team and management, one to one mentoring, etc.

These checklists can be lengthy and will vary from job to job, but make every effort to keep the induction process relevant to the person and the role that they will take. Much of the learning process will be formal and dry, so it is vital that you try where possible to be imaginative in your approach. The last thing either party needs is for boredom to set in, use blended learning techniques such as video, project attachment and e-learning.

First Day

Ideally your new employee will already have begun their induction process before they arrive on their first day through a variety of means, such as EazySAFE’s online employee induction. When they do finally come to work on the first day, it is important that they are met and warmly welcomed. You do not want to overwhelm people with information so go easy, bite-sized bits of information are retained much better than reams of paperwork, policies and procedures. Show them around, make introductions, sort out admin, paperwork and ID badges. Go over essential and relevant policies and procedures and lastly go over the job description. This is vital as it allows the employee to get answers to any questions that they may have which are directly related to their role.

Week One

This week is all about getting the new employee up and running and involved in their new role. Ongoing training should be provided to bring people up to speed on skills and knowledge. Remember that effective induction utilises different formats to convey information. I have gone through inductions where I was handed 26 folders stuffed with policies and procedures and told to go away and read. Needless to say I didn’t enjoy that particular experience. Don’t rely solely on PowerPoint. There are many formats that you can use such as case studies, group work, attachment to projects, quizzes, mentoring, video, to name but a few. Also remember that online learning can play an important role in the induction process. E-learning can be interactive, consistent and can be done away from the work setting. EazySAFE offers an online employee induction course which can be tailored to meet the needs of your company.

Use this first week to introduce the new employee to other parts of the business so that they can start to get a better feeling for the company. Provide opportunities for the new employee to attend team meetings or discussions. Remember to be on hand to answer any questions that they may have.

Week Two and Onwards

By the end of week one, the employee should have settled in and is now on a steep learning curve. The induction process doesn’t end here, there will usually be a probationary period of up to 6 months depending on complexity of the job. Use this time to continue with their induction, meet with the employee regularly in an informal way, integrate them fully into their new role and environment, continue with training and allow them to become immersed in all areas of the business such as social clubs, lunches, team building exercises etc. Get to know the person, he or she may have hidden skills or talents which could be tapped into thus increasing their sense of belonging to the company.

At the end of this period, you will now hopefully have a valued, productive and able team member, and the effort that you have put in to your induction programme will begin to pay dividends.

Review

You can’t afford to become complacent with your induction process. You need to be sure that your process is effective or else you are wasting time, effort and ultimately money. There are number of ways of checking to see if your induction process is effective. Probably the easiest way to check the effectiveness of your induction process is to ask people who have just finished their induction what they think about it. This feedback will be an invaluable source of information and will allow you to tweak your induction process so that you can continually improve. You could also examine your retention rates among new staff to see if there is a pattern of people leaving within a year of taking the job. If you have high turnover of new staff this will indicate to you that something is amiss and will allow you to make changes.

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