Your new employee has accepted your offer, and agreed to your offer of employment. They have served notice with their current employer and have turned up for their first day’s work with your organisation. What preparation should you have made? How should you use your new recruit’s first days with you? What ground do you need to cover? How can you introduce your new recruit effectively into your organisation?
You may well have made the satisfactory performance in a medical examination a condition of an offer of employment. After all, you would not want your new employee to be off sick regularly. You have probably formed an accurate view of your new employee’s state of health on the basis of their application and references. However, a medical examination may bring something to light that even your candidate was not aware of. Medicals are particularly important for jobs that require a degree of stamina or fitness.
The medical should take place before your new employee has started to work for you. Both the medical, and the taking up of references, should be complete well in advance of the start date you have agreed with your candidate. If yours is a larger organisation, you may have your own medical team who will perform the examination. If you do not have such facilities then the private healthcare organisations such as PPP or BUPA could perform them on your behalf. Alternatively, you could ask the candidate to arrange a medical check up by his or her own doctor. Naturally you should cover any cost involved.
You might choose to send a welcome pack to the successful candidate at the same time as the offer letter. A welcome pack might contain some, or all, of the following items:
- Terms and conditions of employment
- Staff handbook or manual
- Letter of introduction from Managing Director
- Copy of health and safety policy
- Details of where and when to arrive on the first day
- Copies of organisation’s brochure or catalogues
- Details of pension and health schemes
- What to bring in on first day
The aim of a well thought out welcome pack is to excite the new recruit, to handle any administrative matters and to ensure that he or she is ready for the first day’s employment.
The First Day
Think about it. Can you remember your first day in a new job? Daunting, wasn’t it? As the employer, you have a duty to make the first day run as smoothly as possible, and to make your new recruit feel welcome. So what can you do to prepare for the first day?
A good induction programme (see below) will include sensible provision for what the new recruit should cover, whom they should meet, what they should do, on their first day. Regardless of what is outlined in the induction programme, there are one or two steps that you can take that will indicate that the new recruit is both expected and welcome:
- Let the person at reception know that the new recruit is expected. Have any identity cards or badges ready for their arrival (if appropriate).
- Have a desk and chair ready, together with any stationery or other requirements. It’s remarkable how many organisations leave this until after the new recruit has arrived.
- Try not to cover too much ground on day one.
- It sounds obvious, but make sure that you are actually in the office on your new recruit’s first day.
- Have any administrative forms handy and ready for completion by the new recruit. Getting the administration out of the way makes a good use of the first day.
- Take time to catch up at the end of the day. How did your recruit feel the day went? Do they have any questions? Is there any feedback you can give them?
Every organisation will have its own idea about whether to issue a staff handbook and, if it does, what it should contain. A comprehensive staff handbook could include rules & regulations, company benefits (pensions, healthcare etc.), the mission statement, extracts from the business plan, quotes from employees about what it is like to work for the organisation and so on.
If you have chosen to issue all employees with a comprehensive staff handbook, it ought to include a detailed section on training and development.
The following might help when considering the training and development elements to be included:
- Organisational framework
- Mission statement
- Business Plan
- Individual employees
- Principle of fitting in with objectives
- Induction policy
- Job description policy
- Appraisal policy
- Who is responsible for training and development
- Training and development opportunities
- Equal opportunities policy
What is it?
An induction programme is the process of introducing new employees into their jobs, and into the organisation, as quickly and effectively as possible. A well-structured induction programme makes new employees feel welcome, and encourages them to identify with the organisation. Induction training of one sort or another takes place in every organisation. After all, you show someone new where the kettle is, and make sure they know what time to arrive in the morning!
Increasingly, however, a detailed plan is set out covering what a new employee needs to know, what training and development he/she needs to do the job, who is responsible for teaching them, and over what timescale. Over a period covering the first few weeks in the organisation, a new employee will be introduced to the company, its staff and its structure. Administrative details, conditions of employment and rules & regulations will be covered. The new employee will meet the team or department he/she will work in, and will be introduced to each aspect of the new job. The best induction programmes are written and laid out as a checklist, showing clearly who is responsible for each element of training, with space for the new employee to sign when each element has been covered satisfactorily. This way the new employee can see progression through the programme, and the manager responsible for training can monitor the progress made.
Try to strike a balance between formal and informal induction. The process becomes a bureaucratic farce if new employees have to sign a form to confirm that they know where tea bags are stored! The full induction programme checklist will vary from company to company, and from person to person. The following checklist is by no means exhaustive, but you might find it useful when planning your first induction programme.
Induction Programme Checklist:
- Welcome to company
- Explanation of induction programme
- Organisational chart
- National Insurance number
- Bank details
- Brief introduction to accounts department
- Complete staff record form
- Complete season ticket loan form
- Birth certificate/education certificates (if applicable)
Conditions of employment
- Working hours (lunch hours, flexitime, overtime, bonuses etc.)
- Salary (When paid, How paid, How often reviewed)
- Sickness / Other absence (Who to notify, Doctor’s certificate, statutory sick pay etc.)
- Holiday (No. of days, Who to notify, Notice required, Timing, Bank holidays, Carrying over holiday etc.)
- Notice period required
- Disciplinary procedure
- Union representation
- History (Part of a group, When founded)
- Finance (Turnover, Profitability, Growth pattern)
- Structure (No. of employees, Management structure)
- Markets (Customers, Competitors, Products, Services)
- Organisational objectives (Mission Statement, Business Plan)
Building & departments
- Tour of building (Canteen, Coffee machine, Toilets, Photocopier, Fax, E-mail, Fire exits, Notice boards etc.)
- Sales & Marketing department (Structure, Introduction to staff, Function, Objectives etc.)
- Customer Services department (Structure, Introduction to staff, Function, Objectives etc.)
- Other departments (Structure, Introduction to staff, Function, Objectives etc.)
Rules & regulations
- Petty cash
Health & Safety
- Fire procedure
- First aid
- Protective clothing
- Reporting accidents
- Food & drink
- Equal opportunities policy
- Race & gender discrimination policy
- Maternity leave
- Unpaid/compassionate leave
- Alcohol & drugs
- Discipline & grievance
- Use of telephones (How to use them, How to answer them, Personal phone calls)
- Appearance & attitude
- Addressing colleagues and superiors
- Pension scheme (Who qualifies, How to apply, Brief outline, Company contributions etc.)
- Health insurance (Who qualifies, How to apply, Brief outline, Company contributions etc.)
- Company discounts
- Clubs, societies & facilities
- Share options
- Company car/petrol allowance
- Mortgage subsidy
- Uniform/clothing allowance
- Introduction to department
- Introduction to line manager
- Function of department
- Job description
- How job fits into organisational objectives
- Training & development policy
- Skills gaps identified
- Appraisal policy & process
Hints and Tips for Induction
- Plan an induction programme for each employee in advance. Use a general induction programme template if you have one, but tailor it to suit each new employee.
- Begin the induction programme with the letter that confirms the job offer: explain when to arrive, who to report to, what to wear etc.
- Be realistic about what someone might reasonably take in each day. Fill the first day only with things that are absolutely necessary e.g. introduction to immediate colleagues only, smoking policy etc.
- Build a new employee’s confidence by giving him/her a small task on the very first day that will form part of their role.
- Offer a variety of ways of getting information across. Introduce some people as a team, others as individuals, go out to lunch with immediate colleagues, and so on. There is a lot of information to pick up, and a lot of faces to learn. Variety will make this easier.
- New recruits often learn more by shadowing other members of staff. They find it interesting, too.
- If you have a company handbook, don’t assume that the new employee will have read and understood it. Go through it page by page if necessary.
- Make anyone new feel welcome by ensuring that they have a desk, stationery and a telephone ready when they arrive. This is absolutely essential!
- When putting the induction programme together, always consider who would be the most appropriate person to deliver each element of training.
- Involve the Managing Director if you can (it makes a good and lasting impression) but not if there is a strong chance he/she will pull out at the last moment.
- Assigning a mentor to a new employee can be very worthwhile (this is someone who takes responsibility for the new recruit’s welfare throughout the induction programme).
- Use the latter stages of the induction programme to go through the new employee’s job description slowly and methodically. Ensure that he/she understands each section of it, and appreciates that it will form the basis of the appraisal at a later date.
- Give new employees a plan of the offices, with the names of the people in each room. Mark on the plan other useful features such as the toilets and kitchen. New employees feel very uncomfortable if they do not know their way around.
- Make sure that you send a memo around before a new employee starts. Tell everyone who is starting, when they start, what job they will do and, perhaps, what their background is. This will ensure that the new employee is welcomed on their very first day.
Benefits of an Induction Programme
A well planned induction programme for your newly appointed employee will provide many benefits:
- New staff will become effective employees over a much shorter period
- There will be more staff motivation, and less staff turnover
- New staff will understand their role within the organisation, and what is expected of them
- They will feel part of their department/team from the beginning
- They will believe they are making a useful contribution towards the organisation’s objectives and goals
One company with which we are familiar tries to ensure that new employees do virtually nothing that will form part of their main role for the whole of their first week in the company.
New employees spend periods of one or two hours in each department, meeting each member of the team, and learning what they all do. One person acts as mentor throughout the first week, ensuring that the new employee is looked after, and also that he/she learns all the general company rules and regulations. A day out with one of the sales representatives is on the agenda, as well as a stint answering the phones (no matter how senior the new recruit is).
By the end of the first week, the new employee has a very firm grasp of how the organisation works, and can begin in week two to learn about the specific role that he/she has been recruited for.
The first week: Checklist
- Are you fully prepared for your new recruit’s arrival?
- Have you prepared a desk or place for them to work?
- Have you devised a manageable first day?
- Do you have an induction programme in place?