Top Tips for Induction Training Programmes
In this article Carolyn Blunt delivers some top tips about how to improve your induction programmes.
Yet so many induction training courses we have observed get it slightly wrong. Being paraded through the office while everybody stares, trying to remember masses and masses of information through boring PowerPoint slides, being eventually left to take live calls with little managerial coaching or support (usually because the team manager is too busy taking escalated calls from last month’s new starters), not having a security pass for days (or even weeks!) so having to beg or borrow a pass from someone else to leave the room or go to the toilet!
No wonder then that many new starters leave, feeling undervalued, disillusioned, bored or downright scared off. As well as the contract that has been signed all new starters have a ‘psychological contract’ with their employer (and vice versa). This is made up of an internal set of expectations, hopes and fears for the new employment relationship. We may not know what is in this ‘psychological contract’, but if it is breached it can result in a significant decrease in loyalty, commitment and engagement.
Good induction is critical
With staff ‘churn’ in our industry at its highest for the fifth consecutive year and the rate of attrition accelerating(1), good induction is critical to holding onto new recruits and cementing loyalty to your organisation.
Furthermore, a study(2) found that organisations with higher levels of employee engagement outperformed their peer group by 17 per cent on operating margin. This would suggest that each employee has an amount of discretionary effort that they will choose whether to apply or not – and if they choose to give that extra effort the organisation benefits significantly.
It is therefore always worthwhile to analyse the effectiveness of your induction training regularly (via analysing the performance and retention of new starters through induction and beyond), and even if it seems quite satisfactory, how could it be further improved?
1. How long should it be?
Analyse the length of the induction, it should be short enough so that new starters can feel that they are being productive but long enough that they don’t do damage to your customers, products, services or reputation. Giving a guideline without knowing your business is tricky – for example new recruits into a heavily regulated industry will require extra time to make sure all legalities are met. However, a good rule of thumb is about 2-4 weeks full-time learning and a further 4-6 weeks part-time learning and supported ‘live’ call taking before integrating into the standard training programme after 3 months service.
2. Avoid Death by PowerPoint
Examine how the induction is being delivered: how is it designed and what delivery style is it in? Swap ‘chalk and talk’, ‘death by PowerPoint’ and screen shots for practical, brain-friendly activities and interactions.
3. Review training and corporate materials
Give them only the necessary information so that they understand the basic cultural facts about their new employer and are effective with 80 per cent of calls; the rest they will learn later.
4. Manager to greet the new employee
Ensure their manager greets them on their first day and welcomes them with a personalised induction pack. (We have observed managers not meeting their new starters until they ‘graduate’ from the induction programme!) It doesn’t take much to print someone’s name on the front of a folder (little Dymo labellers are great) and it makes such a difference to the new starter; it gives a sense of belonging to a team and shows you have prepared for their arrival.
5. The induction pack
Ensure the induction pack contains only useful or interesting information, condense company history into a one-page timeline, include coloured site maps with relevant buildings/rooms/routes already highlighted for them.
6. An airy training room
Have a bright, airy training room that can never be commandeered from induction training for another purpose, such as a last-minute senior meeting, etc. Usurping the room from under the training sends the message that the training is not that important and therefore leaves trainees wondering how important they are.
7. Involve senior managers and directors in the induction
This might be through welcome speeches, Q&A sessions or joining the group for lunch. This is another opportunity to send the message that you value these people.
8. Engage part-time staff
Part-time staff, out-of-hours staff, homeworkers and hot-deskers are groups that may feel less engaged with their employer, so their induction is particularly important. The induction process can often require them to work different hours or in different locations to what they will ultimately be doing – make sure the hours, duration and location of the induction is explicitly clear at the interview stage and not a horrible surprise. Make sure you stick to the promises made – failure to do so will affect their psychological contract. Where possible try to induct them in as close to their contracted hours as possible and ensure they meet the people they will be handing over from/to, etc – we have found teams that have never actually met face to face!
9. Be careful what you call your new starters
Be careful what you call your new starters and the induction training room, especially if you have a bank of desks designated for new starters. We have come across slightly degrading terms such as ‘the nursery’, ‘rookie corner’ and ‘newbie bank’ – consider the status these labels give from the start.
10. Use buddies
Coaching is an invaluable part of integrating new starters and the identification of the right ‘buddies’ and ‘mentors’ is critical. Make sure these are people who are inspired and motivated (and especially trained!) to coach effectively. Having a level of coaches takes some pressure off team managers and provides a structure for skills development and succession planning – another tool in the war against attrition.
If your recruitment processes are correct then these new starters are the future of your organisation – make sure you are treating them as such.
Carolyn Blunt is a Training Consultant with the Training Consultancy Real Results.
For a free Factsheet on training ideas and suggestions titled ‘How to Jazz up your Induction’ then contact Carolyn through the Real Results website.
For information on training services offered by Real Results visit www.real-results.co.uk or call Carolyn on 0161 408 2003
2. Towers Perrin (2004)Copyright Real Results Training 2007
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