Know how to plan inductions

While most organisations understand the benefits of an effective induction programme, we often take it for granted. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) estimates 22% of new recruits leave companies within the first six months.

As the average cost of filling a vacancy is £5,800, there is a very strong business case for ensuring induction programmes are in line with good practice.

Expert’s view: Jack Markiewicz, PPMA lead officer, talent management, and director of HR and change, Swindon County Council

What are the biggest challenges?

  • Prioritising staff inductions is a must. If both managers and staff understand the importance of the induction process, retention of information and value to the business and individual will be far greater. Too often, a heavy workload or staff shortages mean inductions are not given the investment they need. Time really needs to be spent reviewing the induction process on a regular basis, to ensure the process and associated documents/information – for example, e-learning guides and staff handbooks – are relevant and meet the needs of new recruits and the business as a whole.

  • E- learning guides are a great resource, but they should not replace the traditional face-to-face induction process. Personal inductions provide great networking opportunities and allow new recruits to integrate more quickly into their new environment.

  • Finally, the induction process should start before the recruit does. Try to include as much information as possible in the starter or welcome pack, so that staff do not enter the workplace blind.

What should you avoid doing?

It is easy to miss the boat with inductions, and with it the opportunity to bring a new member of staff in line with your organisation’s vision, culture and values. Don’t leave it too late. Similarly, if the induction is spread over too long a period of time, the ‘new’ member of staff will have switched off before the process has finished.

What are your three top tips?

  • Get induction dates built into the recruitment process at the stage at which contracts are signed and returned

  • Don’t underestimate the importance of face-to-face contact – if induction is largely delivered through e-learning, ensure there are networking opportunities available so the individual has a chance to build relevant contacts within the organisation

  • Develop an ‘established staff’ induction process for those who are moving positions internally.

Induction before day one

An effective review of the induction provision should include consideration of pre-induction support for new employees, recognising that waiting to join a new organisation can be an anxious period. Providing advance details about the organisation, such as what to expect on the first day, can help employees feel supported and motivated. Introductions to colleagues can also make their first day less daunting, enabling the transition into the workplace.


Customising the content

There are common issues that should be covered within the inductions for all new staff, but this doesn’t mean an overall ‘one size fits all’ approach should be routinely used. After providing some of the key information on organisational strategy, objectives and key policies, it’s important to focus on the teams they will join and the role they will perform. This will be a priority for new staff, so it is crucial they feel that some of the induction is role-specific. When exploring strategies and policies, ensure employees understand why it is important to them, so they engage in the process and retain the necessary information. This may mean reviewing the language used, to check it is accessible. Finally, make sure you are covering the main practical issues, such as arrangements for lunch breaks, how to apply for training support, and an overview of the IT systems.

The best induction programmes also feature tailored support for individuals, recognising that some employees may need additional support (which can often be provided quite easily, yet have a major impact on supporting new employees). Examples of workers who may benefit include those returning after a career break, new graduates, and international colleagues.

When and for how long?

One dilemma concerns the timing of the training and how it is delivered. Traditionally this would be one or two full days, but this can lead to information overload and a sense of frustration from the new employees if it is too ‘corporate’. It can be useful to stagger some of the organisational-level information over a longer period, so the employees have more time to settle in and can understand the implications.

The same can be true of specialist job-related information which will be more valuable when the employee fully understands their new role. But the ability to spread the training or provide it in bite-sized chunks is subject to organisational constraints on time and resources.

Where possible, it is also good practice to involve a number of people in the delivery of the programme, so that new employees have the opportunity to meet a range of their new colleagues.

Finally, once a programme has been updated or revised, it is important to evaluate it and build on the feedback from the participants. Where extensive feedback would be useful, you may find interviews more comprehensive than a standard questionnaire.

If you only do 5 things

  • • Start the induction before the new person’s first day in the office

  • • Include face-to-face inductions

  • • Tailor induction programmes

  • • Get and use feedback on your programme

  • • Keep printed material up to date.

Further information

Induction pocket book
Authors: Ruth Sangale and Philippa Webster
Management Pocket Books, £7.99

Induction training: effective steps for investing in training
Author: Michael Meighan
Kogan Page, £20.09
ISBN: 0749433035

by Fiona Robson, senior lecturer in HR management, Newcastle Business School, Northumbria University

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