Getting to know you: the induction

The induction process forms a major part of onboarding and every organisation, large or small, should have one as it will help your new employee feel as comfortable as possible in the early stages of their employment and help them get to grips with their new role.

An effective induction process will ensure a new recruit is able to:

• settle into the new environment

• understand all aspects of their role

• develop the skills and knowledge to do their job properly

• understand how their role fits with the rest of the organisation and its objectives

• understand the organisational culture and what standard of behaviour is expected of them.

A good induction process is not a one-size-fits-all process: its nature and length is dependent on both the complexity of job and the new employee’s background. It will also depend on the type of contract and include temporary and short-term appointments. A good induction process includes the following elements:

• an overview of the company’s culture, values, products and services

• physical orientation (where things are)

• organisational orientation (how the employee’s role fits into the organisation)

• awareness of other functions within the organisation 

• meetings with key senior employees

• health and safety (this is a legal requirement, see article 134

• explanation of terms and conditions

• outlines of role and job requirements.

he most important thing is to remember there should be two-way communication:

a new employee is likely to retain less from three hours of being talked at than they will if you can make some of the elements participatory. Asking for feedback on an element of your business as part of a game could bring fresh ideas to the organisation. Business guru and author Geoff Burch advises that the owners or founders of small businesses should always make time for a new starter on the first day. He reasons that the founder is the person who will be best able to share their inspiration and vision, and therefore is the person best able to explain to the new employee what it is they are supposed to be doing and how they are supposed to be doing it.

Ideally all new employees should receive an individual induction programme, but if you have taken on a group of people then it may be appropriate to use a group process. A group company induction can be a combination of one-to-one discussions and more formal presentations aimed at a group of new employees during an induction course.

The CIPD lists the advantages of a formal induction course as:

• structuring the induction process for a group rather than for individuals saves time for both new recruits and managers

• new employees are given clear, consistent information on the employer brand, values and culture

• a range of communication techniques – including group discussions, projects and presentations, visits and guided tours, off-site training sessions as well as involvement with suppliers, customers and contractors – can be used

• new employees can socialise together during the process, thus building cross-functional relationships

• it is relatively easy to arrange.

However, it’s not a completely straightforward choice, as there are disadvantages to a formal induction course:

• group inductions can contain a range of subjects that are unlikely to appeal to a mixed ability group of new employees working in different areas

• the convenience of holding induction courses weeks, or even months, after a new employee has joined the company can disrupt their integration into the work team

• is a less personal process

• it can contain too much information for a new recruit to assimilate in a short time

• it may not be a true reflection of either the organisation or the job

• new employees, already on a work team, may not be able to attend all the sessions if the induction is a series of presentations.

The induction process is the starting point for the new employee’s personal development within an organisation and should help recruits begin to identify their own personal development plans. As such, the induction process is likely to be a crossover function involving HR, learning and development and individual line managers.

A positive experience during the first few weeks reinforces a positive perception of the organisation and their decision to accept the job. A negative experience can lead to a swift decision to resign.