Most organisations neglect this – and then suffer the fall out when their new talent walks out of the door after a matter of weeks.
Research shows that the critical period determining whether a new hire will stay with your business is in the first few weeks. So much hard work and cash goes into finding, attracting and selecting your star employees. So why risk letting them slip through your fingers because you haven’t managed their induction period properly?
A properly planned and well-managed induction process will massively boost your employee’s productivity from a slow start to turbo charged. You will leapfrog the inevitable settling in period and enable them to start contributing from Day One.
When creating an induction process, here are the key points you should address. If you follow these tips, you will see your new starters power through their first few days and weeks.
Induction starts before they join
What can you do to ensure tedious paperwork, necessary information and documents are completed before the employee joins? Air automates employee onboarding for you seamlessly, helping you set up and automate the essential tasks. Download a free onboarding checklist here. The more you can help your new boy or girl feel part of the team before they have even walked through the door the more motivated and less anxious they will feel about starting. Its easy to forget when you’ve been with a business for a while how hard it is to navigate the basics. Like, where do I sit, where is the best place for lunch, what time should I be there, what do I wear, what do my colleagues like to do to relax?
People are always anxious about starting a new job. And it doesn’t help that their first contact with the company is in the form of government forms, official letters and the like. What people really want to know is, what is it actually like to work there? What are my colleagues like? What is the ongoing banter? Will I look stupid if I come in a suit?
There can also be vast amounts of wasted time getting set up on computers, the internet, emails and the like. Even just issuing door passes and entry codes. We’ve seen new hires come into businesses and literally sit there doing nothing for a whole day or more because of some basic glitch. Make sure you put someone in charge of sorting all of this stuff out, or do it yourself if your business is small.
The first day
Getting this right is so key. Imagine the difference between a new hire walking in, being greeted by someone who was expecting them, making them a drink and then showing them how to make their own drinks for the rest of the day, and settling them into their tidy and well equipped desk, compared to the same person coming in, sitting in reception, being asked to wait for hour on hour while the staff are phoning around trying to find out who is supposed to be looking after the poor person. That new hire is nervous, probably didn’t sleep well the night before, is keen to make a new impression and such a welcome only increases anxiety. We’ve seen both scenarios and only one results in a happy first day!
How long will the induction period last
Induction doesn’t have to be the same as the probation period, but make it clear how long each will last. It’s a great idea to give your employee an outline schedule of where they have to go and when. If they are travelling around different office locations ensure this is clearly communicated. The length of the induction period is variable depending on the role, and your business. There are no set rules, but obviously use your common sense and allow enough time for training and handovers from departing employees. But do not drag it out unnecessarily, if someone is already demonstrating they can perform or take on full responsibility let them get on with it.
How will you get over all the information you need?
There is a lot of information to be communicated in most businesses. Policies, handbooks, operating procedures, layouts, organisation history and structure, specific role related information, the social and cultural side. Don’t just dump a spiral bound handbook or operating manual on their desk and get them to read it. You can use Air to set up and communicate all your HR policies, including the employee handbook, essential files and important tools. Think about how you want to tell the story of your business. What is important to you? Why did you start the business? What do you hope to achieve? What do you want them to get out of working for the business? Its up to you to engage them with your vision and purpose. Let them feel part of the mission and they will go the extra mile for you. Time invested at the outset with the employee, particularly if you don’t have day to day interaction with them yourself, will pay dividends. They will feel special and as if they have heard the story of the business “from the horse’s mouth”. This is a powerful tool – so use it well.
If all you have is the dreaded spiral bound handbook, maybe now is the time to get rid of it. You can find a free employee handbook template here that you can download and customise to your organisation. Or find some great ideas here for some innovative ideas on how to harness technology to communicate your culture and values minus the bureaucracy.
Provide a mentor
If possible, allocate a mentor to look after the person. This might be you if it’s a small business, or it may be the person’s manager or the person they are taking over from if this is the case. There should be one person who takes them under their wing. They should be sensitive enough to notice if the person is wilting a bit under the strain of smiling and trying to remember masses of new names. That should be the time they step in and make a cup of tea or take them out for a quick lunch. Don’t forget that most of us are programmed to perform in a social situation. We don’t want to make ourselves look stupid or embarrassed by admitting we didn’t understand how to access the company intranet, or we have forgotten the name of the business’ most important client. We might need to ask these things several times and we might forget the answers. Its exhausting taking in information. Make provision for that, and go easy on the long hours for the first few days. We usually recommend that people start a little later than first thing – around 10am is ideal in most workplaces, and then leave at around 4. This also gives the people who are looking after them a bit of a break from their training and allows them to catch up with their own urgent stuff. Read more about onboarding new employees here.
Who will be involved?
Think about which teams are involved, who needs to interact with the person. You might not think that getting an overview of all departments is relevant, but it really helps people build up the big picture of what your business is doing and breaks down silos. Try to build in as much cross functional involvement as possible. And also insist that people from outside the immediate team get involved. We’ve seen times when this is resisted as it cuts into business as usual. But you should lead by example and insist this happens if you are serious about true teamwork in your business. Involving everyone means everyone has a stake in the new recruit working out and if they have forged a personal relationship they are much more likely to help out when the new recruit requests their help in future.
Your company culture
We’ve touched on this above, but its absolutely vital to integrating and engaging the new person. Try to involve them from the outset into your favourite rituals and jokes. There is nothing worse than hearing the in –jokes and wondering if you are the butt of them. The quicker they feel in the in-group the happier they will be – and the more likely they are to want to come to work. That’s a win for you and for them! Go out of your way to schedule a fun or social event to co-incide with when they join. We’ve even seen some businesses have elaborate initiation rites for new starters. Of course these have to be true to your values and culture, and not scary, embarrassing or alarming for the person involved, but there is no limit to what you can do, so get your team involved and use your imagination. The sooner they can make friends at work the better.
We love to hear about how your business involves new people from day one, or perhaps you have a story of when you started at a new workplace? Let us know!