This article introduces easy to follow action steps designed to assist line managers, supervisors and managers responsible for the induction of new employees. It makes good sense to help new recruits to integrate as quickly as possible into their new surroundings and to become efficient and effective in their work and set them up for success. Failure to do so can, at the very least, lead to erratic progress, with possible hidden costs such as waste of materials and loss of customers.
The format and content of a new employee induction program will vary according to the size and type of organisation and the existing knowledge, experience and seniority of the recruit. It must be borne in mind, however, that it is as important to educate the newcomer in the culture, language and standards of the organisation as to train him or her to perform a particular job.
Induction should not be viewed in isolation. It should be treated as an extension of the selection process and the beginning of a continuing staff development programme. Known as orientation, it often consists of two stages:
1- an organisation-wide programme, usually conducted by the human resource department,
2- and a departmental programme. This article focuses on the second stage.
Definition of new employees induction
The purpose of induction is to ensure that new employees:
- are integrated into their working environment as quickly as possible
- learn relevant aspects of the organisation's mission, culture, policies, procedures and methods of working
- become productive and well motivated
- become aware of the skills and knowledge needed for the job
- understand their responsibilities
Advantages of induction
- Newcomers are integrated more quickly into the organisation and become productive earlier
- You show that you value the newcomer, making them feel welcome and giving them a sound impression of the organisation
- Recruitment costs are seen as an investment
- Successful induction is an essential first stage of an employee development programme
Action checklist of proper induction for new employees and recruits
1. Appoint a mentor
Consider asking someone about the same age and grade of the newcomer to act as a friend and advisor for the first few weeks. This will be particularly useful in a large, complex organisation or in helping to explain the myriad of detail not fully covered elsewhere. Monitor the relationship, however, and step in if it isn't working.
2. Plan the induction and involve and inform others
An induction programme should ideally be drawn up, but certainly authorized, by the newcomer's manager. The mentor should also be involved in the process. Other staff who will be working with the new employee should be informed of the induction programme whether or not they will be involved. The induction plan should contain three stages: the first day or two should cover the bare essentials; the first three or four weeks should be learning by a mix of approaches; the three to six month period should gradually familiarise the newcomer with all departments.
3. Prepare the work area
Clear and tidy the new employee's work area. Check that all relevant stationery is to hand and equipment is in working order.
4. Introduce the recruit to the organisation and the department
On the first day it is usually the personnel department who informs the newcomer of housekeeping arrangements (where the toilets and the canteen are for example), and covers the sorts of issues contained in the staff handbook (such as salary payments, leave arrangements and sick pay scheme). Make sure that the new employee has copies of any necessary documentation, the organisation chart and job description for example. An introduction to the department and team in which they will be working must also be made. Although the newcomer will be introduced to people around the organisation a detailed look at what other departments do will follow at a later stage of the induction process.
5. Emphasise the importance of organisation policies and procedures
New employees must be made aware at an early stage of policies and regulations based on legislation, eg. in the area of health and safety. Other procedures based on national standards, such as IS0 9000, and other schemes, such as internal employee development or mentoring, should also be introduced.
6. Plan a balanced introduction to the work
Whether training is done by the sitting-with-Nellie approach or by professional trainers, a mix of explanation, observation, practice and feedback is advisable. Beware of information overload. The new employee should be given some real work to do to avoid boredom and to give early opportunities for achievement.
7. Clarify performance standards
Make the performance levels you require clear from the outset. An employee cannot be expected to meet standards of which they are unaware.
8. Conduct regular reviews of progress
These should be made during the induction programme, for example, on a weekly basis, to ensure that all the objectives and the new employee's needs are being met. The programme may have to be adapted to match individual learning requirements and speeds. Usually reviews will consist of informal chats but a more formal appraisal interview may take place at the end of the programme, particularly if the employee is on probation. The views of the employee on the overall induction process should be sought for the design of future programmes.
Dos and don'ts for dealing with new employees and recruits
- Ensure that all relevant staff know about and are involved as necessary in the induction process
- Review a new employee's progress regularly and be prepared to incorporate his or her expressed needs into the induction programme
- Evaluate the style and content of the induction programme and amend it if necessary, taking into account the views of employees who have had recent experience of it, organize needed trainining courses to provide any missing skills
- Forget that starting a new job is a stressful experience for most people
- Give the employee too much information at once
- Make assumptions about the recruit's learning and integration
- Forget that an induction lasts longer than one day or even one week