So you’ve found the perfect candidate and everyone is looking forward to the new recruit joining the team. But a successful hiring process is just the beginning of the story.
If a new recruit is to hit the ground running, a carefully thought-out induction is vital. Those first few days are crucial to helping a new employee get clear about their role, build the right relationships and settle into the team.
All too often, however, managers are so busy, and so relieved simply to have someone on board, that they do a hasty run-down of the practicalities, brief a few key tasks and then leave the new recruit to sort the rest of it out for themselves.
The result of this ‘hands-off’ approach is often that people flounder through their first weeks, not really sure if they are doing the right thing – or in the worst case scenario, feel unwelcome in the business, fail to integrate properly and quite quickly leave.
If you suspect that recruitment or inductions are to blame for high staff turnover, keeping an eye on you leavers’ data can be useful, especially when departures happen within the first six months of a candidate starting with your company. And it goes without saying that high turnover impacts massively on your bottom line…
So what are the key elements of an induction programme that will ensure a new recruit gets off to a flying start?
1. Plan Ahead
Think carefully about what the new recruit will need in their first few days. It’s good practice to make contact before the start date so that you can personally welcome your new team member, show that you care and are excited to have them joining your team. You can also tell new starters about some of the practicalities (such as parking and security arrangements) and who will be there to greet them when they arrive. It should go without saying that it’s important to have their desk and equipment set up and ready, but you’d be surprised at how often people turn up to find IT haven’t sorted out access to the company systems and they don’t yet have a phone line. Sketch out an induction plan for the first week to help people get familiar with their working environment, the people they will be working most closely with and any core health and safety or HR procedures they need to be aware of. But don’t restrict your planning to just the first few days. People will need continued support and more detailed information as they gradually find their feet in their new role.
2. Clarify the role and responsibilities
Managers are often so concerned with making sure people understand the day-to-day stuff (how to book holidays, what to do if you’re off sick) that they overlook the primary objective of any induction process – which is to engage with the new employee. The first few weeks in a new job can be confusing and disorientating. People may understand the broad scope of their job, but they often don’t know where the boundaries of their role begin and end, or what criteria they should use when making decisions. As a manager, your role is to make sure the new recruit is absolutely clear about what their objectives are and how they fit into the bigger picture. New employees also need to understand how their performance will be judged or measured and what support is available from the manager and the team to help them be successful in their role. Investing time up front in building this level of clarity will pay dividends for the manager in the end, as people will become self-sufficient much more quickly and will be able to get on with the job in hand without being confused about what they should and shouldn’t be doing.
3. Involve the team
Being the newcomer in an established team can be tough, especially if the new recruit is joining a group of people who have worked together for a long time. Think carefully about how you can help the new employee integrate and feel comfortable with their colleagues. Consider delegating parts of the induction to different team members so that people have a chance to get to know each other in the early days. Make sure as a manager that you choose carefully who will be helping with this to make sure that the right information will be conveyed, that you don’t overwhelm already busy people and that they will give a positive view of the organisation. For smaller questions, nominating a ‘buddy’ who can help the new recruit find their way around may be useful. Make sure new starters have someone to go to lunch with for the first few days, organise a team meeting or get together in the first couple of weeks, and make sure the new person is included in any social activities that are going on.
4. Schedule regular catch-ups
However good your initial briefing, it’s inevitable that people will have lots of questions in the early days. When you’re busy yourself – or if you’re not often in the office – this can be distracting and difficult to manage. Making sure people know who in the team they can turn to if you’re not available will help people get quick answers to basic questions, but it’s also important to ensure you devote regular quality time to the new recruit. Schedule catch-ups at least weekly in the early stages, so that the new employee knows they will have an opportunity to sit down and discuss issues with you in detail rather than having lots of unsatisfactory, snatched conversations. This will help people build the confidence they need to do their job effectively – and will also ensure no disastrous mistakes are made because people were either afraid to ask or no-one was available to give them advice. For the manager, the major benefit of this is to avoid frequent interruptions during the week as non-urgent questions can be asked at a scheduled time that is suitable to both parties.
5. Do something different
Let’s face it, induction programmes can be pretty dull and boring. Think about what you can add into the mix to help your new recruit feel welcome and energised. Some companies get the team to record a light-hearted video introducing themselves which can be sent to the new recruit ahead of their start date. Others make the new starter’s desk an inviting space with flowers, snacks and a welcome card. Larger companies have also experimented successfully with an ‘I’m the new person’ badge that recruits wear for their first couple of weeks, to encourage others to approach them and have a friendly chat. Whether it’s a small touch – like breakfast on the first day with the team – or a chance for people to get on the front-line of where your products are made – use your imagination to find ways to get people fired up in their new role and engaged with your teams and business
To help you with inductions within your business, we have created an induction checklist that you can receive and use free of charge by subscribing to receive our free monthly management tools and updates here: https://www.viridianhr.co.uk/blog