Top 10 tips for staff inductions

By Lorraine Sutcliffe
Lorraine Sutcliffe, HR manager at Baxter Freight, explains why there is more to welcoming new starters than office tours and buddy systems in her...

Lorraine Sutcliffe, HR manager at Baxter Freight, explains why there is more to welcoming new starters than office tours and buddy systems in her top ten tips for staff inductions.

The interview process is a long journey- it takes a lot of time to find the correct candidates. But what’s next? Too many businesses think that the first day is the end of the recruitment process, when really your staff induction is your opportunity to establish the company’s personality. New staff will be given the chance to understand the company values, strategy and their role within the organisation.  After you’ve invested so much in the recruitment process, it’s sound business sense. 

Here are my top ten tips on how to conduct a successful induction programme. 

1. Invest from the beginning

Initially inductions can seem like a lot of work , but ensuring employees have the right knowledge, skills and attitude for the workplace  has so many benefits; it can avoid issues arising in the long-run, increase retention and generate a  happy and productive  team. Plus showing any new starter that you are invested in them from the off-set will develop a positive first impression.

2. Induct everyone

People often feel that inductions are just for junior staff, but inducting senior members too ensures that everyone in your business buys into the same vision- whether they’re a director or member of an operation team; everyone should have a staff induction. This is your opportunity to ensure consistent standards, expectations and values are kept across your business too.  It doesn’t matter if you are a small or large organisation, every business should have common standards and visions to follow.  This is especially relevant for SMEs to ensure that established ideals remain consistent throughout their rapidly expanding environment.

3. Target different learning styles

The induction process can sometimes be a little daunting for new starters as there is a lot of information to take in. Because of this, it’s important to make a conscious effort to incorporate different learning styles into the process to ensure new information is absorbed and retained by everyone. This could mean incorporating diagrams or videos for visual learners or physical elements for kinetic minds- targeting your inductions to cater for everyone is a worthwhile step that can also make inductions more engaging.

4. Do lunch

Whether you’ve got ten employees or ten thousand, lunch time can be a daunting time for a new starter. When you’re going to so much effort to create an inclusive, welcoming induction, it makes sense to ensure this vibe continues into lunch and into the afternoon’s session.  We arrange a buffet for our new staff so everyone can have lunch together and start to build that team and get to know people. It may sound simple but it helps our employees feel more comfortable and enables them to begin to understand the team dynamic within our office.

5. Develop key skills

Inductions are a great time to equip your staff with the basic skills they need for their position. In our line of work this focuses on effective communications, and so our inductions explore a number of useful techniques to help new employees achieve this. Although it may sound simple, using role play to learn how to ask open questions or how to listen effectively is a great way to assess and teach these skills and ensure a consistent standard of communication is adhered to across the organisation. 

6. Layer Information

There is a lot of information to share in an induction, so to help your staff retain knowledge, focus on building understanding through separate layers. Doing this will effectively aid learning and boost their confidence. Layering also helps identify gaps in employee knowledge and allows any potential concerns to be addressed. For example we begin to layer information for our Sales Account Managers on day three of their induction, walking them through everything from rapport building to profiling information. Each module has an exercise to reaffirm what we’ve learnt and its importance to that particular position.

7. Play Games

Avoid boring new employees to death by PowerPoint and think about how you can make your induction more engaging. At Baxter Freight we make a conscious effort to help our new employees retain information through a variety of fun activities. Games are also a great opportunity to bring your businesses culture to life.  Being in the logistics industry, listening is a vital skill for our employees, one of the games we play is Chinese whispers: it might sound simple but the nature of the exercise means our new starters learn how to actively listen to ensure their understanding is correct.

8. Have difficult conversations

Many companies shy away from discussing subjects such as race, gender or sexuality, but your induction is a great time to address the company expectations.  Diversity is a great example; we initiate conversations with our staff challenging the causes of stereotypes.  It is important to discuss equality and diversity, to combat any issues and establish an agreed standard across your business.

9. Meet the managers

A lot of companies forget the recruitment process is a partnership- your new starters are helping you grow your business, so it’s important to remember this throughout the induction.  Getting senior members of staff to take the time to introduce themselves is an effective way to show new starters that you are grateful to have them on board, along with establishing a transparent culture across your business.

10. Tell your story

Most companies will cover the basics during their inductions, however many forget there is an interesting story behind their success. For example, our fresh approach to the freight industry has come from the knowledge of our founder Ian Baxter, who has an intrinsic understanding of the freight industry as the former MD and co-owner of RH freight. This story is an important part of our corporate identity and influences our actions as a result; from our employee expectations to the strategies we use, all our business actions are shaped by our previous experience, so it’s important to make some time to enlighten new starters as to how we built our company.

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