The induction process forms a major part of onboarding. Every organisation, large or small, should tailor their induction to help new employees feel as comfortable as possible in the early stages of their employment, and assist with getting to grips with their new role.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) estimates 22% of new recruits leave companies within the first six months. While most organisations acknowledge the benefits of an effective induction programme, it’s clear such programmes are often the casualty of not enough resources, or focus, to make them fit for purpose.

The induction process starts before the new recruit arrives for work. Try to include as much information as possible in the starter or welcome pack, so that staff can join the workplace with good knowledge of the organisation’s culture, achievements and procedures.

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.

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.

tailoring the induction process.

A good induction process is not one-size-fits-all: its nature and length are dependent on both the complexity of the job and the new employee’s background. It will also depend on the type of contract. There should be a suitable process for those on temporary and short-term appointments.

A good induction process includes the following elements:

  • an overview of the company’s history, products and services
  • culture and values
  • physical orientation (where things are)
  • organisational orientation (how the employee’s role fits into the organisation)
  • meetings with key senior employees
  • benefits and policies
  • health and safety (this is a legal requirement, see ‘achieving best practice‘ 
  • facilities and IT 
  • explanation of terms and conditions of the employment contract
  • learning and development
  • role-specific information.

If you regularly use agency workers, sub-contractors and freelancers, extend the relevant parts of the onboarding process to include them.

The most important thing is to remember that any communication should be two-way: ensure new employees can participate and ask questions throughout the face-to-face induction, which will keep them engaged and keep the content relevant. Asking for feedback on an element of your business 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. 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.

individual vs. group induction.

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 advantages of a formal induction course are:

  • 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 during the process, thus building cross-functional relationships.

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

  • group inductions can contain a range of subjects, which makes it unlikely to appeal to a mixed ability group of new employees working in different areas
  • holding back induction courses for weeks, or even months, after a new employee has joined the company – so you can include them in a group induction – can disrupt their integration into the work team
  • there is less opportunity to personalise it
  • it can contain too much information for a new recruit to assimilate in a short time
  • it may not be a true reflection of an individual’s job and their role within the organisation
  • new employees, already on a work team, may have responsibilities which take priority over joining the induction, especially if it is delivered in phases.

Responsibility for induction

The design, development and evaluation of induction policy and programmes is largely the responsibility of HR or L&D specialists, with a role for the employee’s line manager. 

In the induction process, recruits should begin to identify their own personal development plans and the start of the appraisal cycle. This means the induction process is likely to be a crossover function involving HR, learning and development and individual line managers.

The quality of this process is vital: a positive experience during the first few weeks reinforces a positive perception of the organisation and an employee’s decision to accept the job. A negative experience can lead to a swift decision to resign.

Employer brand can be seen as part of the induction process. With this in mind, the onboarding and induction processes should reflect the employer brand and the values the organisation is promoting. This might, for example, require a review of pre-employment communications sent out to new recruits, to make sure they are welcoming and engaging.