HR Consultant Tara Daynes
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'Induction crisis? What induction crisis?' Beyond the Checklist...

8th Oct 2012
HR Consultant Tara Daynes
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A recent survey has apparently shown that 2 out of 5 new starters at senior level seriously consider jacking in the new job within 3 months, due to rubbish onboarding processes by HR - in other words, 'induction crisis'. It's no revelation that the first few months in any job are critical - if you get beyond those, you'll probably stay put for a while. But if it all goes horribly wrong, chances are the new starter will soon be a new finisher. So how can induction processes help - & indeed hinder - someone's chances of going the distance?

As an Investors in People specialist, I often talk to recent joiners about their experiences within the first day/week/month & beyond, as effective induction is one of the requirements of the IiP Standard. Many employers think that as long as there is a checklist of practical bits & pieces to tick off, they are then it's all good. If people have had a swift presentation on the company history, been told the Health & Safety rules, filled in a bunch of forms,  got their IT passwords & can find the toilets & kitchens by themselves, they are hot to trot.

But actually, that kind of induction can be a bit offputting. Information overload is no picnic at the best of times, & certainly not on day 1 of a new job, when most people's heads are spinning just trying to remember people's names & job roles. Spending a  few hours filling in paperwork & navigating your way round the company Intranet just pees on the fireworks of new-job excitement. Add in the trauma of a lonesome lunchtime, & soon the novelty wears off.

Induction is often a wasted opportunity to really embed the touchy-feely stuff of a new job - such as engaging people with the employer brand values, company culture & senior management teams. So what can we do to make the whole process - & in fact the organisation itself - that much more engaging? here are a few top tips & techniques that may help...

Send a visually appealing & insightful information pack to candidates at the recruitment stage, that includes things like company values, social media connection details etc., so future employees can start buying into the employer brand straight away - hopefully this means you can recruit people who already share the company values & are a better cultural fit.

Get all the formfilling malarkey out of the way before people start - send the paperwork out with offer letters & contracts, or even better, enable them to do it all online beforehand.

Give new bods a Buddy, so they have someone to have coffee/lunch with for the first few days, & who can give them an informal guided tour & insight into the company, & answer all the questions the newbie may not feel comfortable asking their manager about (like questions about their manager!)

Don't make people sit through long-winded presentations that aren't relevant to their job roles - not only will they lose the will to live, they won't remember it by the next day. To give them an insight into other parts of the business, try scheduling meetings for them over a few weeks with key contacts, or get them to attend team meetings in other departments. Make sure this includes personal contact with members of the senior team, who have the opportunity to inspire & motivate newbies far more effectively than even their line manager.

Don't just focus on the nuts & bolts of policies & procedures etc. Many of these people will never, or rarely, need to worry about. The important thing is that people know that certain policies exist, & where to find them when they need them. For things that are essential, such as security issues , Health & Safety etc., interactive e-learning such as quizzes etc. can have more impact then just reading through a shedload of bumph. But at the same time, ensure people know what is available to them, particularly where benefits & entitlements etc. are concerned!

Make sure induction covers things like career paths, development & other opportunities, so people can see a clear future for themselves within the organisation.

Induction days can be useful as a way to introduce people to brand values & cultural issues. But again, ditch the dull  Day 1 presentations! Hold a group event for several new starters at a time & make it an interactive workshop with group activities etc. so people really take it all in, & can share their own views & opinions. Have people from different parts of the business (preferably the ones who will make a good impression, not the really dull ones with rubbish presentation skills & an axe to grind because they've not been promoted.)

Have regular 1-1s with new joiners, to set clear expectations (on both sides!), give them constructive feedback on their performance, & ensure that the job & the employee are both fulfilling what was promised.

Finally, do some evaluation & review to see how it is all going. As with any trainng, have some defined success measures & learning outcomes, & after 3 months or so, have a catch-up with your new bods to see if/how these have been met. get feedback from them about their induction process - what went well, & what could be even better - & if necessary, use that feedback to continuously improve your induction processes.

So, quite a bit to cover off there - better amend that induction checklist...

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