You never get a second chance to make a first impression, and we all strive to make a good first impression, particularly when starting a new job. However, are companies making the best first impression on their new staff?
The induction or training process
One of the most important, but often overlooked, factors in hiring new staff is their induction or training process which normally takes place during their first week in the office. Induction training is vital to new employees and it is as basic as showing them where the washroom and notice boards are, to company policy, health and safety rules and dress codes.
Larger organisations often publish a manual covering topics such as the company’s mission statement, rules and regulations, procedures for booking holidays, sickness forms and fire drill regulations. It is also a good idea to include a full job description for the new employee and pop all this in the post before he or she starts, giving them an opportunity to orientate themselves before they start the new job.
But if you’re a smaller organisation and the above all sounds rather daunting, don’t panic! Follow the simple steps below and you can easily compile your own company manual to suit your own individual needs.
So, it’s their first day and most new recruits will be a little nervous. Make sure their desk is clear and contains basics such as notepaper, pens, stapler and ruler, new business cards and that their email account is already up and running. It may sound trivial, but it all helps to make a newcomer feel at home.
Discuss your plans for the first day. Introduce the team and other staff members. Show the new person around the office. You also may want to arrange a suitable time for key people to go out to lunch. Go over the job description and organisational chart. Make sure they know how to use the photocopier and fax machine are where they are located, and don’t forget to explain the company’s internet use policy.
Next it’s on to some of the nitty gritty. Arrange a meeting with the payroll department to explain hours of work, overtime payments if applicable, and organise ID cards if necessary. Go over any details regarding commission payments or performance related pay schemes, procedures for filling out holiday and sickness forms, and how to deal with workplace injuries. Make sure they have an up-to-date telephone extension list along with a list of emergency numbers and details of fire exits and drills. Go over working hours, breaks, and probationary period if there is one.
One of the most invaluable documents you can offer a new employee is a well-thought out and detailed job description which should include a list of general tasks, functions and responsibilities of the employee. It can also include who that person reports to, specifications such as specific qualifications and the salary band for the job. Start with job title, who they will be reporting to, which department and the location. Then lead into a job summary including all duties, however small, and any extra information that will ensure the person doing the job does it in the most effective way possible. Describe the basic purpose of the job; why does it exist? What are the most important duties and how long does each take? List all the secondary responsibilities and tasks. What equipment and materials are needed to do the job effectively? Who assigns the workload and what priorities there are. Who reviews and approves the work? Describe any specific decision-making tasks and which decisions should be referred. What paperwork, filing or record keeping is involved? Is there any supervision of other employees?
Setting up a good training programme
The next step is to set up a good induction training programme. This could run from a few hours to a few days, or weeks, depending on the job and size of the business but the main aim is to help the newcomer become familiar with the job, the business and colleagues as quickly as possible.
Usually this includes meeting and listening to the nature of the business with senior managers, line managers, the personnel department, and those responsible for health and safety. Another effective process is to organise a slide show or visual presentation about the company, its policies and products.
Other training methods that can be used include ‘on the job training’ where the new employee shadows existing staff to learn how the department runs, attending internal meetings and briefings and taking part in assigned projects. If your organisation has external customers or clients make sure your new recruit is taken to meet them and understands the nature of their business as well.
Essentially any induction course should be composed of general training relating to the organisation, job training for the role the new employee is filling, some training related to health and safety and a course evaluation with feedback to ensure quality, and understanding of the role. Using a feedback form is vital for establishing the success of your training programme. Ask participants to evaluate each section of the course on a scale of one to five and ask for their comments on each module.
Your general induction checklist should include the following information: safety and emergency procedures; washrooms; smoking areas; company history and overview; mission statement; organisation structure; who’s who; dress codes; company facilities; pay structure; holidays and sickness procedures; health insurance and pensions; discipline procedures; job appraisals; career paths; training and development; incentives; general administration.
A large portion of a good induction programme should be devoted to helping the newcomer integrate into the working environment and interact with other staff members. Your checklist for this part of the training should include: departmental tour and structure; functions and aims of the department; the team and management; how the department works and interacts with other departments; how the job fits into the production or service process; reporting, communications and management structures; stationery supplies; a detailed job description; product, technical, or service training; performance reporting and evaluation; training opportunities.
For higher profile employees at an executive or international level you may need to consider a wider induction plan to expose them to a larger variety of contacts. This could include: overseas visits to customers, parent companies or suppliers; site tours and visits; supplier and manufacturer trips; attending high level meetings and introducing them to current projects; attending functions, dinners or presentations and visiting exhibitions.
However you decide to do it, the structuring of your induction training programme should be done well in advance as it involves coordinating people and booking time slots in normally busy schedules. Training could take a few days or several weeks depending on the nature of the job and size of the company.
Plan well in advance and organise a timetable where you can slot in the different sessions and give a copy to the new employee when it is finalised. Not only is this extremely helpful to your new recruit but it also gives a good impression of a well-organised company that takes its employees seriously.
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