Staff induction or onboarding is the process of introducing and familiarising a new hire to their new workplace. It is a series of events which starts from when an offer of place is accepted and continues for weeks or even months. Staff induction occurs during the first day, week and month of employment – with many companies seeing it as something which lasts for the complete first year of employment. More and more it is seen as key to engaging and retaining staff.
Staff induction can also make considerable difference to your bottom line.
Research shows that a positive induction experience increases new-hire retention rates by 82% and also increases productivity by 70%. Getting people to stick around is crucial to business success and growth. Stats show that the true cost of replacing someone lies anywhere between 90-200% of their salary. With 31% of new hires leaving within 6 months (and 68% of those, leaving within the first 3 months), losing people is clearly very expensive and a big barrier to growth.
What does your staff induction process say about your business?
Staff induction is a reflection of your company values. It’s the first learning experience a new hire has and is the start of their learning journey at their new workplace. It provides their first insight into what the company they have joined is really like – as opposed to what they were told about it – and sets the tone for what the employee can expect down the line in terms of their work experience.
From a manager’s perspective, staff induction is the opportunity to make a good first impression and reinforce that the new hire has made the right decision in joining the team. It’s the opportunity to say:
- are professional
- care about your experience here
- want you to be successful and happy here
- will ensure you have the tools to succeed
And perhaps most importantly, we want you to stick around.
What do new hires want in staff induction?
“How an employee initially perceives a company in terms of opportunity has a huge impact on how long they’ll stay”
Michelle Hoover – Principal at Baem Leadership
It’s time to re-think the induction conversation. Long gone are the days where staff induction was a quick once-over of HR documents and setting up the new email account. More than anything else, these days new staff want to be engaged and to feel a personal connection to the company.
Although important, money is not necessarily their main reason for joining. Job offers are increasingly being accepted for the opportunities to develop skills through on-job training. This all begins with induction- the first bit of training a new hire undertakes.
These 4 things are what new hires most want from an induction experience.
1. A clear understanding of their job expectations
Key roles and responsibilities should be thoroughly covered in a decent job description, but certainty around job expectations go beyond this. New hires – especially young ones- want clear and detailed parameters of what is expected of them. They want to know what good work looks like and how they will be appraised for their work. This obviously doesn’t get covered in the first day or even week- but the sooner a new hire knows what is expected of them the better.
2. To learn about the company culture
Being able to do your job well goes beyond understanding what you need to do. It’s also about understanding the wider company culture that you have now joined. Questions like the following will help build a picture of company culture.
- How are people managed here?
- How do individuals and teams interact with each other?
- What is the dress code like?
- What qualities are most valued by the company?
- Does this company have a learning culture?
- How is professional development and training put into practice
3. To connect with their team
Getting to know the people you will be working with, even if you or they are working remotely, is a hugely important part of the induction process. No one wants to be sitting alone wading through a pile of documents when they start a new job. A new hire wants to start building relationships as early as possible and become attuned to their team. Again, you and/or your team don’t need to be physically present in the same place to start building a connection.
An important part of any induction programme, online induction modules can also be a great way to bring together a team who work remotely and build connection between members.
4. To get on with the job.
New employees want to feel engaged from the outset. They don’t want to spend a week reading or listening about their job – they want to be doing it! While induction clearly requires that context and familiarity be gradually built up, the best way to learn is by jumping in. With the right support of course.
The importance of clarity and flow during induction
Induction is about giving a new employee the right flow of information, guidance and opportunities to learn.
Let’s start with information. Information needs to be clear, relevant and given in a way that doesn’t overwhelm. Chunking information is a good way to do this. Don’t give everything at once – instead think about what the new hire needs to know at the very start to get on with the job as opposed to what they can read, hear about or discuss later on.
Make sure your information is concise. It’s also important that the information you give out is current. Workplaces are constantly changing and employee manuals, organisational charts and company policies need regular revision to be of any use.
Guidance needs to be measured. Having someone available to show you the ropes on your first days or weeks makes a huge difference. Again it’s important not to go overboard. It’s about having someone be present (in person or online) to help and answer questions but to also give the new hire the opportunity to explore and learn independently. As with most things in staff induction, it’s about getting the mix right.
Scenario-based learning: an example of workplace induction
How would you feel if this was your first day?
It’s your first day at a new job. You turn up at 8:30 on the dot and excitedly announce yourself at reception. The receptionist doesn’t know who you are. The manager turns up looking stressed and tells you that things are a bit chaotic, but he will try to get through everything with you today. He asks you to wait at reception for a few minutes while he gets your paperwork ready. The manager returns with the paperwork, including the organisational chart, which is out of date. Most of the people have left- we might as well throw this one out, he says, but gives it to you anyway. It’s now 9:45am.
The manager is called away, but sends Emma to continue your induction. No mention is made of who Emma is or when the manager will be back, so you just wait at the empty desk with a mountain of paperwork, hoping Emma turns up. Emma eventually arrives, introduces herself and says she will show you through the company’s database. You try to do this together but the server is down. Emma goes off to talk to IT to sort this as well as your new email, and leaves you to read through the company policies and the out-of-date organisational chart. Half an hour later, the manager turns up again. Sorry for such a crazy first day, it’s not always like this, he says. You wonder if that’s true. Why don’t you have an early lunch?, he suggests. You go out to a nearby cafe and eat lunch by yourself.
At 12.15 you are back at your desk. Emma turns up 15 minutes later and helps you log into the system. The next couple of hours are spent going through the customer database, while you desperately try to take notes. Is this all written down somewhere? you ask hopefully. Unfortunately no, is the reply. We have been planning to do that but never got around to it. Maybe that’s something you could do? You nod, apprehensively.
You suddenly realise you haven’t been to the toilet all day. Where is the toilet? you think to yourself, annoyed now at the fact that no-one thought it necessary to mention this to you. When you return Emma asks if you’d like to meet some of the team. Finally! She takes you to a larger room down the corridor but most of the desks are empty. We can do introductions tomorrow she says. You spend the next few hours flailing about.
By the end of your first day and you haven’t met most of your colleagues, you don’t have any work to do and don’t know who to ask about this. Worst of all, you don’t even know where you can make a cup of tea.
Will you come back tomorrow?
Tying it all together: 15 tips for workplace induction.
As we know, induction should involve communicating well to make a new person feel welcome, understand what they need to do and become familiar with the company and its values.
You can do this by following these 15 easy tips:
- Get the HR paperwork and email account sorted before their first day in the office
- Look happy to see them when they turn up
- Make it personal. Everyone likes a personal touch
- Introduce them to their team. This needs to happen straight away
- Give them something to do. Most people want to be productive as soon as possible
- Invite them to a team meeting
- Don’t overwhelm them with too much info. Spread meetings throughout the first week
- Tell them their job expectations and what they need to do to be successful in their role
- Tell them how they will be appraised – it’s good to know this from the outset
- Talk to them about the company culture and values. It’s better to talk about culture than to read about it in an employee handbook
- Take them out for lunch
- Assign a buddy. Ideally someone in their team who has been around a while. It’s crucial that a new hire has someone who they can go to for guidance and questions who is not their direct manager. This will be more intensive in the first few weeks. Longer term, the ‘buddy’ system could turn into a workplace mentorship programme
- Check in regularly with them and get their feedback
- Give them the information that they need in a variety of ways – written documents, face to face explanations or demonstrations, team meetings, e-learning. Everyone learns in a different way, so cover your bases
With a little organisation and forethought, new staff induction can be an engaging and empowering experience. Remember, it’s often the little things that count the most, so don’t forget to smile.