A properly thought-out induction process helps new staff members feel they fit in and is a foundation for understanding how their job should be performed.
It paints a picture of what's ahead, of how the company operates and what opportunities may be available.Theresa Tudor, Tudor Consulting Many bosses don't realise the importance of welcoming new staff with a well-thought-out induction process - it could make the difference between that person staying or leaving.
"It's about mental commitment - engaging employees straightaway and getting new employees to be effective quickly," says HR consultant Theresa Tudor, of Tudor Consulting.
Tudor says the process helps new staff members feel they fit in and is a foundation for understanding how their job should be performed.
"It paints a picture of what's ahead, of how the company operates and what opportunities may be available for the employee in future."
She says it shows how the organisation values its employees and how it takes its own values seriously.
A good induction also tells the employee who they can go to to get the information they need without distracting other staff members. "[It] indicates the organisational norms - a good induction even adds up to a better reputation for the company."
When doing an induction, it's important to reflect the values and culture of the company. If you're an IT company, it's probably best to use the latest technology when doing the induction, while a plumber may require one-on-one job training.
And focus on the workers themselves. "If they're younger - perhaps have an online site they can refer to for information. A florist may do better with a manual as they don't particularly need online skills."
Tudor says the next thing to do is to transfer training into practice. The induction should not be just on the first day of employment and not be a one-off event. "It's a gradual process which is also about including the new staff member in social events - that can be even before that person starts the job."
In fact, the induction starts with the interview processes in that the skills required for the job need to be explained at that time - that gives the employee the chance to turn it down if they don't feel suited.
"The induction is a constant and gradual process and can take a few weeks or even months. It's good to link it into performance management - and is an opportunity for the company to work out the drivers and motivators of the new staff member - this is vital for performance management."
Tudor says before the person starts it's good to be sending them emails about what's going on.
Sometimes a buddy system works well and creates a sense of belonging. It's important to have a tour to meet colleagues and an information pack. An online component is a good way of keeping the information up to date in a cost-effective way.
And the induction's presenter needs to be trained to do it correctly. It's easy for a long-time employee to assume the new person will just know things. "The presenter needs to be someone with an awareness of different perspectives and an understanding of differences."
Tudor says the process needs to be geared towards the company as well. If it's a small company or a manufacturing plant, the process is different. It's important to know what to focus on as far as time and cost is concerned.
An induction checklist is what John Butters, of John Butters and Associates, Human Resource Consultants, finds extremely valuable in order to make the process valuable for the company and employee.
"It's a way of seeing that you are doing everything that's required."
And different approaches are needed. Butters says someone new to the workforce who is coming from a different environment, such as schooling or tertiary education, will need an induction that looks at behaviour requirements in the workplace.
"The new entrant is used to having frequent feedback from schooling and more flexibility than will be available at the company. They may need to be helped with basic impression management skills.
"If you bring this up with someone who is coming into a senior position, they may find this insulting.
"How to offer service and friendly responses may not be the sort of things a senior person needs to be told."
Butter agrees with Tudor in that the induction is the first phase of the performance development process and it's good to talk about the organisation's business goals.
"When a person starts at a company, the organisation often knows more about the employee than it will know later on. There will have been a CV, an interview, psychometric profiling, reference checking and more. It's all valuable information and should be used by the manager to enhance the business relationship."
Butters says it's important for the manager to know how the employee likes to be managed and for the employee to know how the manager likes to manage. "This helps with team building afterwards".
He says since you know so much about the employee at this point, it's good to tailor the induction. "Part of it could be about talking to the employee about her style ... this helps them realise that their interest and abilities are valued by the organisation."
Butters points out that a lot is going on when a new employee comes into a workforce - and having the checklist is vital to keep focused on that person's needs. "Sometimes a new employee at a lower level may need daily or weekly feedback, while those at a higher level may need meetings more spread out."
Butters' checklist includes: prepare essential equipment and supplies, documents, introductions, key policy, key meetings, business plans, performance indicators and more.
Butters also says there are different layers to the induction - "A person won't learn it all in 24 hours."
Part of the induction needs to be about interaction, getting to know colleagues and different divisions in the company and what they do.
It's all about helping the newbie feel they belong as soon as possible.