Company Induction-So Much More Than a Welcome.
Ah yes, the Company Induction. Nothing says welcome to your new job like a smiley face, a coffee and Danish pastries. Settle back, let the information wash over you, along with bad jokes, and meet some new friends along the way.
It surprises me how many companies don’t offer this. For all the glib comments I have just written, the company induction process is really highly valued by those people who attend. Alright they may not listen as attentively as you might hope to your ‘company history’ or ‘what to do in the event of a fire’ speech, but they do value it.
You see the process of Inducting people is not just about giving a warm welcome and orienting people to the business and procedures, it is about customer service, internal customer service that is and selling. Selling them the notion that whilst ‘shopping’ for a new job, they have found you and you have found them whilst ‘shopping’ for a new member of staff. Just like shopping, when you buy something, you want to be assured that you have made the right decision too, and so the Induction process goes about fulfilling that need. There is even a form of ‘no quibbles returns policy’ too. It is called the probation period, if people don’t like it then they have a shorter notice period to depart with, and vice versa. They do not even need a receipt! Beat that for a deal. So much time has been invested in making the company sound like the Nirvana of work destinations, during job advertising, the interview process and the documentation that is sent out to the new employee. So why do companies stop once they are through the door. The process of selling them the business to heighten engagement is vital and the Company Induction delivers this, if done well. As a trainer it is my top priority to ensure that every employee is treated as a customer, from Induction, through training courses and one to one support. After all, as with any business; no customers, no business, in my case no job!
When you start to think about inducting people as I do, on the first Thursday of every month, think about your own first day, how you were welcomed. Then try and beat it. Make it better, so very much better, so that each person who comes before you leaves with a strong memory of how truly great their welcome was to the business. They will take the experience with them when they eventually move on, and rather like that old BBC advert asking “can you remember the best teacher you ever had?” they will always refer to your Induction being the best they ever had. I know this to be true, as I have had people leave and come back to be re-inducted and have remembered the Induction and advocated it to others. I have even had other companies contact me about the way we induct too.
I advise making the Induction a monthly event, as I mentioned earlier, I run mine on the first Thursday of every month, that way everyone knows when it is running and it becomes mandatory in its habitual occurrence. The Induction should not be a protracted dog and pony show either. I have heard of Inductions that go on for days and days, just how much is there to say on company benefits and first aid? A morning is sufficient, and should be polarised to four key elements, with speakers from each area for a touch of expertise. Everything and anything above that is technically based and should form part of initial training set up. So, those four areas then;
1- Company overview
2- Health & Safety
4- Company Benefits
1-The Company Overview
This should be delivered from a general to specific perspective, start with global issues, history etc and filter down to National and Localise issues ending with what happens to each person in the company during their first month or whatever your probationary period stipulates.
If you need to create a presentation, my advice is use slides that only contain an image, no text, as you will bore them with ‘death by PowerPoint/Keynote/Prezi’ (delete as appropriate). Punctuate the session with tasks, e.g. at an interview it is often asked, “what do you know about XXX business”. Well ask it again and get them in groups to write down a list of ten points. Alternatively get them to build something out of Lego that represents something they have achieved.
I suppose it is worth mentioning the ‘introductions’ part too. Nobody likes it; nobody listens as they are all waiting their turn to have to speak. God forbid they have been asked for an ‘interesting fact’, the poor things just spiral trying to come up with something either a) interesting or b) more interesting than the previous person who just happens to have been a diving instructor in shark infested waters in Australia, prior to becoming a lion tamer in the circus. Suddenly their factoid about collecting sea glass sounds somewhat lame. So my message is do not do it. Get them to carry out a team exercise where they can introduce themselves throughout. You know who they are anyway as you met them at the door. You were there to meet them when they arrived right?
2-Health & Safety
This is the part where the yawning kicks in. Listen, you know it is dull, you know that when any human being of average intellect 1-hears a continuous high pitch noise and 2- observes everyone around them leaving, that they need to leave the building. So don’t bang on. If the intellect is somewhat diminished then you hope that they will get the message to leave upon the sudden heating up of the floor and inability to see their screen/colleague etc due to smoke. So in light of this, keep the boring stuff only to what you have to tell them legally. Apply the rest of the information with a light touch.
With risk assessment make it mandatory and involving, if people know that they could get a free wrist rest, glare guard or the Holy Grail…the new chair, then they will listen hard. After all, haven’t you once had a thing about new stationery? This is the same, but ramped up!
Use this section too, to recruit for first aid and fire steward folk. Again keep it interesting, sex sells, so show them pictures of firemen and nurses and you’re on to a winner.
We all have some form of I.T. system be it office based computers or tills and credit card systems. This can be a dull subject if not handled well. We also are very well aware that if something goes wrong, then we need to turn the computer off and back on again right? Play to the clichés and funny bits. Make sure it is delivered in a way that is entertaining, like the I.T. Crowd TV show perhaps. Try to avoid making this section sound too ‘policed’ especially is you have an I.T. policy, it can taint the whole Induction sound unwelcoming and ‘big brother’. Not good. Talk in terms of solutions and actions to help people embrace I.T. and offer training solutions to those who struggle in this area. If you have an Intranet, then use this as the backbone of the section, peppering content with really useful things, not just boring work stuff. Oh and the golden rule, never, ever demonstrate how to use software in an Induction, this needs to be done one to one or in a different environment, they won’t remember a thing. If you absolutely have to, put together a handout with instructions, laid out like a video game guide with screenshots and punchy text. This section needs a lot of work and can make or break your Induction, so apply the effort.
Save the best for last, that is what I say. This is an opportunity to really sell your company and why people should enjoy their benefits and want to refer people into the organisation. Again only use slides with great imagery on them. For example when talking about holiday leave use an image of somewhere exotic, or something even more exciting like sunbathing on the moon. I am clearly making this up now, but you get the drift. Run the through the benefits in the order that people use them or by popularity. Be careful when talking about anything that is drenched in discrimination laws such as maternity and paternity as you can come unstuck, instead explain the benefit and refer to your in-house expert such as H.R. Make sure you end the presentation with a massively upbeat slide of information, explain again why you have stayed or chose to work where you do. It really reinforces the message.
It is important to lend a sense of ceremony to the Induction. On the day, put around the business notices stating that it is happening, it looks great if you do and really improves morale. Nothing shouts success like “look we are recruiting, and come see, they are amazing”.
Have the new people meet somewhere for coffee and pastries, so that you can create an informal, friendly welcome that will put them at ease and get them chatting. Again this negates the ‘interesting fact’ session later.
Take people to the room where the Induction will take place, it creates a sense of anticipation, like a theme park, if they know they are going somewhere else, oh and try to ensure that music is playing when they arrive, nothing cheesy or corporate, something with a good beat such as Chicane works well. I have used this music for years and people now associate it with the Induction, which is great, as they can hear from outside the room. It creates a great buzz.
Also try to ‘dress’ the room, with your brand, or company imagery to really reinforce the message of who they now work for. It works like advertising, driving the brand into them so that they start to feel that all-important ‘employee engagement’.
Decide to invest heavily in making your company induction the best it can be, it is so much more than a trawl through the company handbook, yawn, ‘bottom drawer dust collectors’ they are too. Make it exciting, unique and memorable and stamp your personality all over it and it will pay you dividends.