There are a wide range of induction programs utilised by modern organisations – from one day programs filled with back to back 1:1 meetings, to integrated one month-long programs utilising digital platforms, virtual sessions and small ground activities.
We have seen at lot of induction processes at Tribal Habits and we can confidently say that all great employee induction programs share these five elements.
The great employee induction programs start before day one.
New employees are often anxious or have many uncertainties about their new role. These can be as simple as transport questions or the great unknown of ‘lunch options’! Great employee induction programs recognise this and have some form of pre-work activities. This often incorporates a ‘Welcome pack’ of information. It might still be sent in the mail, but many organisations now utilise an online welcome pack on their digital learning platform.
Welcome packs can include some required HR forms (to get them out of the way) but should also include other information to make new employees ‘feel welcomed’: transport alternatives, food options, dress standards, brief team introductions, social club information and so on.
We have written extensively about the importance of induction buddies in other articles, but it is certainly something worth repeating here.
The first few weeks for new employees can often feel lonely. They may not know many people, don’t know all the inside jokes and stories, get confused by internal acronyms or jargon and haven’t had time to plan and involve themselves in any social events.
An induction buddy provides a ‘way in’ to the insider culture of your organisation. Induction buddies help involve your new employees in team events, answer questions that the new employee may be otherwise embarrassed to ask and generally help the new employee to feel some camaraderie in those early days.
Great induction programs begin immediately. If new employees have to wait even just a few days for an induction program to start, then some of the benefits of the program are already lost. An employee who spends a few days sitting bored at their desk waiting for an induction program to begin next week is already becoming disengaged.
Great induction programs therefore either carefully manage the starting times of their new employees to ensure there is critical mass for induction programs to begin immediately (possible for very large companies or organisations with seasonal hiring), or they utilise technology to deliver employee induction programs 24/7 in any location (utilised by most other organisations who don’t have 10-20 new employees joining at once).
Never underestimate the impact of the first few days and weeks with a new employee. They are like clients and stakeholders – keep them waiting at your peril!
Starting a new role is energy draining. First, there is the anxiety and anticipation felt by the new employee in the days leading up to their commencement. Next, there is the nervousness felt during their first few days as they struggle to make sense of everything. Finally, there is the energy required to learn many new ideas, skills and processes and to do so quickly.
It’s quite exhausting being a new employee! The great induction programs recognise this and utilise some energy management ideas to assist, such as:
- Starting employees on a Wednesday or Thursday to shorten the first week
- Carefully mixing in onboarding, induction and on-the-job training
- Allowing new employees to have some decompression time (morning teas, leaving early)
- Mapping the induction program over a reasonable time period (not rushing or overloading)
- Giving new employees some free time to review or explore as they want to
The great induction programs probably weren’t great on their first roll-out. However, they were careful to obtain regular feedback from new employees and continuously improve. Over time, they became great.
Great induction programs incorporate automated new employee feedback to allow for this improvement. At the very least, they include a week one and month one automated feedback process to capture thoughts on what worked well, what should be improved, how their manager went, how HR performed and so on.
Digital learning platforms can automate this process by sending online feedback back surveys and then triggering 1:1 review meetings with managers or HR. This automation is another feature in great induction programs, where things don’t happen by chance, but by design.