‘Onboarding’, ‘Induction’, ‘new starter journey’, or simply ‘welcome’ – different employers have different labels. So if any of the above grated with you, sorry – I just went with the labels that many of Zoomly’s clients seem to be using right now.
Who am I to offer tips on induction? Well, as someone who supports development and performance at work with over 15 years’ experience, I know a bit about how people learn. And for reasons I won’t bore you with I’ve been looking at recent research, best practice, and spotting ideas worth sharing.
Employers spend large sums and tons of time hiring people, yet a surprising number don’t make the grade or leave after a short stay. Many organisations learn the hard way how important it is to first of all recruit for cultural fit. And once their new hire arrives, they need to minimise ‘time to competence’, ensuring they have all the right skills to do the job well.
The new hire is all set; they’re about to hand in their notice to their present employer. This is when they may experience ‘buyer’s remorse’ and be swayed to stay put. They need to feel really good about their new employer. Smart firms build strong bonds at this stage, for example:
- Meeting informally with their future manager and discussing expectations
- Sharing online guides, factsheets and videos
- Sending a handbook or guide to the organisation, covering its history, specialisms, locations, key people
- Providing online learning and/or gaming, such as quizzes, tests on regulatory requirements and sector-specific ‘must-knows’ (a major media company gets new hires completing an online course prior to Day 1).
- Sending employer branded goodies, such as an umbrella or water bottle
- Inviting the new hire to a social gathering, all staff meeting, or lunch
- Being allocated a peer mentor or buddy, who will help them navigate the first few weeks in the new role
The first few hours, days and weeks can have a significant effect on the newbie’s view of their new employer, their job – and how long they plan on staying around. According to CIPD, “In high-turnover industries in particular, a great deal of employee turnover consists of people resigning or being dismissed in the first few months of employment.” (December 2017)
They need to feel genuinely welcomed and positively engaged from the moment they walk through the door. The new hire also needs to demonstrate the required skills. Innovative approaches to that important first impression include:
- Being met personally by their manager and/or a buddy on arrival
- Showing the new hire where they’ll sit and what they need to know right away about the tech they’ll be using
- Receiving a clear timetable of the why/what/when/who of their induction programme
- Starting a formal induction programme, covering company history, ‘who’s who’, codes of conduct and regulatory areas such as health and safety
- Being introduced to the immediate team and who does what
- Meeting with their line manager to discuss and agree goals for their first week, month and 90 days
- Getting introduced to the wider organisation through a mix of face to face introductions, email and announcement at all staff meeting
- Assessing essential skills (if this wasn’t done at the selection stage), such as presentation and spreadsheet applications and setting a development plan where necessary
People need to know how they’re doing – whether that’s ‘you’re doing a great job’ or ‘you need to make some improvements’. This is particularly important during induction.
- Having regular check-ins with their manager on their progress and any questions they have
- Testing their knowledge of business essentials, such as legal requirements and sector bodies
- Getting feedback from a mix of colleagues, including peers and their manager
- Meeting with their buddy to seek and get advice
- Testing their skills and capabilities to ensure they are plugging any identified gaps (one tech-savvy employer requires new hires to deliver a presentation on a key challenge facing the business within their first 90 days)
Two things I notice best in class employers take particular care about:
The employee experience. They monitor new recruits’ success rates and frequently seek feedback from new joiners on how the process can be improved
Aligning induction with company values. If ‘innovation’ is an essential value, they don’t send out a dense and deadening document, detailing dozens of procedures,
DOs and DON’Ts, etc. They design an online game.