How to make the most of the induction process for new employees

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Sarah Mandeville, recruitment manager at Gekko, gives her tips on what must be done early on to ensure new staff are welcomed and then retained.

The induction process is the first step in the right direction to staff retention. Your recruitment team and hiring managers are likely to have invested much time, effort and cost to ensure a talented individual has been selected to join the company, and it is therefore imperative that the initial welcome and induction is productive to ensure a successful hire.

Each new employee should be treated as an individual, not a number: create a detailed, tailored induction plan and make your new starter feels welcome and part of the team from day one.

 
Planning
Dedicated time should be spent in planning an induction in advance of an individual starting. When planning, involve anyone who may have had a relationship with this person at interview stage, as well as colleagues they will be working with long term.

Identify what needs to be covered, prioritise, and ensure anyone taking part knows what they need to discuss so as not to repeat information. Create an introduction folder or something similar containing any essential documentation they are likely to need, not only in the first few weeks but on an on-going basis.

 
First impressions count
Yes, this person has accepted an offer to join your company, however mistakes in the early days could prevent them from staying. Go back to the very basics from how to answer the phone and transfer a call, to where to find the toilets and water coolers.

These minor details often get forgotten; make people feel comfortable in the building so they don’t just feel like a visitor. Ensure their desks and equipment have all been set up, and if being re-used are they in good working order and most importantly clean?

 
Adapt your plan along the way if required
Having spent time with a new employee, you will get to understand their learning styles. After the first couple of days, review the induction to see if any changes need to be made and if so perhaps moretailored to their needs.

Something you may have planned to take three hours may only take half that time if the person picks it up quicker. Likewise they may need to focus more attention on other areas, and therefore you must adapt as necessary.

 
Prepare existing staff
Inform colleagues (not just the immediate team they are working in) that there is a new starter so they can all make them feel welcome. Give existing employees an introduction to the new team member before they start, helping relationships develop more quickly. Ensure colleagues who are inducting have dedicated the time to do so in their current work schedules and are able give the new starter their undivided attention.

 
Don’t overwhelm
Aspects of the role or company that are essential for the employee to know may not be necessary to discuss in the first couple of weeks; can it wait until a person is settled? Sitting through presentations with departments they won’t have any involvement in for a few months are not necessary in the initial induction period and may well be forgotten by the time it is relevant.  Reschedule for a later date when the employee is settled.

 
Allow for reflection time and review
An induction can consist of so much information meaning it can be counterproductive if there is no time to allow the person to take it all in. Allow some time every day for them to review what they have been taught, and inform them of what they can do in any other spare time as and when the opportunity presents itself.

Introduce documents they can revise in this down time, show them where they can look on the intranet or how to find and review case studies etc. At the end of the induction programme invite the employee to review the induction with their line manager. Allow this to be in an informal setting so the employee can feel comfortable in being honest, and so any concerns or plans for action can be addressed from either side.

A new starter satisfied with their first few weeks in the role will lead to a long term employer/employee relationship. This all starts with the induction: it is important that the new recruit does not get lost in the business of our day today roles – give them your full attention and make them a success.

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