Should my organisation induct new employees without using a ‘one size fits all’ approach? Q&A
Q: We have been using the same induction pack for new hires since the year dot. Recently, I've been reading about how important it is to tailor the induction to the new employee. Any thoughts about how to go about this and if you believe it is really worthwhile?
A: If you want to retain and inspire the staff you've invested so much time and effort in recruiting, I believe there's no better place to start than with their induction.
Should each induction differ? Take, for instance, the example of hiring a new board director and a recent graduate. While the fundamentals of their inductions might be the same, the detailed content must obviously differ.
The good news is, stepping up your induction process to meet the differing needs of your hires doesn't have to be costly.
Here are my tips for successful individual induction:
Start after hiring but before arriving
Don’t wait until their first day. Once you know they’re joining, harness all that motivation and get new hires learning straight away. This reduces the avalanche feeling once they’ve arrived and empowers new joiners to feel integrated sooner. Many organisations already send legal forms to be completed along with the formal offer letter; some send the employee handbook. What I’m talking about includes that, but a bit more creativity as well. Give the recruit access to the new employee section of your intranet, populated with podcasts and articles communicating your organisation’s strategic vision and values. Involve staff in the creation of these and make them as engaging and true to your organisation’s personality as possible.
Make it personal
In this pre-joining phase, introduce company leaders and key players sure, but why not have the recruit’s team create a personal introduction, featuring fellow team members and showing their workspace, for instance? Make it friendly, warm and welcoming. Some organisations even go so far as to ask new employees what management style they prefer. How far you go with tailoring is up to you and your organisation’s style. But I would suggest when your new hire arrives for their first day, he or she should already feel familiar with your culture, hours, dress codes, appraisal systems, holiday, pay, even software.
A warm welcome on the first day
Prepare for the recruit’s arrival by prepping all staff to welcome them by name, ensuring their workspace, online access, email address and staff idents are all organised. A new employee's immediate boss should ideally be there to welcome them. A good rule of thumb is that, the more senior staff are personally involved with induction, the more new staff feel valued. Make this a day of practicality, with a tour of the building, meeting rooms, photocopier, staff cafe, how the phones work, parking and so on. Assign the new employee a buddy, someone happy to support and guide through the first month or so. Perhaps organise a team lunch on the first day for an informal greeting. Some organisations even encourage recruits to lunch with a different colleague each day, by supplying them with a set of vouchers for meals.
Defining individual direction
Much depends on how long you want your induction process to last, but I would suggest early on, the new employee gets together with his or her immediate manager to identify personal goals and how these fit with the direction of the organisation. Ensure the recruit understands how their individual contribution fits into what the organisation does and why it matters. By using the advance onboarding technique in combination with this, new staff can swiftly get to work on their key objectives. Above all, a personalised induction programme should give a new employee the sense of their importance to your organisation; that they have been selected from many, that their talent is recognised and that their career path is defined. They are also practically equipped with all the information they need to hit the ground running, fully informed and already engaged.
Don’t stop the first Friday
Carry on monitoring the induction process on a regular basis to further identify and refine which aspects work best for your organisation. Ask new hires for feedback at the end of the first week, and at the end of the probationary period or at around three months. Continually assess and fine-tune how you onboard employees to maximise the benefits of induction.
Always remember, in induction as in life - one size does not fit all.