You have a new employee
Your new starter is excited that their first day working for you has arrived but is also very anxious that they made the right decision. They may have left behind friends and colleagues and a job they loved or could have been needing this change. Either way, the familiar first day “being the new kid” feelings surface and there is a heightened awareness of the new surroundings. As humans, we need to feel part of a community and know that we fit in. When we leave a job we may have been very well integrated, walking into a new job, not knowing the people or what it is that you will be doing can be a very daunting experience. The onboarding process and first-day induction is an important introduction to the business, people, and environment and should cover a variety of things that will help the employee settle in quickly. This article will look at why this is necessary and what should be included.
According to recent studies, there is a growing amount of evidence that a poor onboarding programme has a negative effect on whether the employee feels that they have made the right decision to join their new employer. According to surveys conducted, around 25% of new starters will leave in their first year if they are not made to feel part of the community. This has a significant impact on the organisation’s ability to attract and retain talent.
What is onboarding/induction?
The induction process is more than just creating a good first impression so that your new recruit feels they made the right decision to choose to work for you. Onboarding starts before the employee’s first day. Many organisations are now providing information to their employee through intranet and L&D portals so that they become familiar with important issues such as safety procedures and even simple things like dress code for the environment that they will be working in. Nobody wants to turn up for work on their first day wearing a suit when everyone else is in jeans and a smart shirt or blouse.
Onboarding is a process of exchanging necessary information between the employer and the employee. Induction is a structured process that takes the new employee through defined activities to acclimatise to their new job and work environment. Socialisation is a means for the new employee to be introduced to new teams and people that they will interact with during the course of their work so they can start to build those relationships.
According to the CIPD, a well-designed onboarding and induction programme results in a positive first experience of an organisation. It means the employee:
Settles in quickly
Integrates into their team
Understands the organisation’s values and culture
Becomes productive quickly
Works to their highest potential
Without effective onboarding and induction, new employees can get off to a bad start and lack clarity on their role and how it links to the organisation’s goals, which could impact their intention to stay in the role. Turnover like this results in:
Additional cost and time for recruiting a replacement
Wasted time for the inductor
Lowering of morale for the remaining staff
Detriment to the leaver’s employment record
Having to repeat the unproductive learning curve of the leaver
Damage to the organisation’s employer brand
What should be included?
A good quality onboarding programme can take a variety of forms and be rolled out over a varying amount of time. Much will depend on the type and seniority of the role. As a minimum there should be a combination of pre-employment information, health, safety & regulatory induction, facilities and IT set up, plus information about the organisation’s culture, strategy, rules and policies.
Induction checklists are available from many sources including Acas who has published a step-by-step breakdown of what to do and when covering pre-employment to the end of the first 12 months. This can be found here: https://www.acas.org.uk/sites/default/files/2021-03/Starting-staff-induction.pdf
Your Human Resources personnel will determine which elements of the onboarding and induction program will be conducted by them (contract and benefits, payroll etc) and which will be devolved to the Line Manager to carry out. The important thing is to ensure that the right amount of time is assigned to carry out the induction process well and is not hurried. Your new employee will need to feel valued and will quickly form a negative view of you and the organisation if you try to rush the process or ‘leave them to it’ and are just given a load of forms to fill in and documents to read without the opportunity to develop a connection with people and ask questions along the way.
It is important to start to build trust and confidence from your first interactions and to make good on any promises that were made during the recruitment process as this forms the psychological contract between you (mutual expectations). Getting it wrong will likely result in the employee not settling in quickly which may lead to them feeling that they have made a big mistake accepting the job. As seen in the evidence section, this may mean they fall into the category of seeking a new job in their first 6 months.