21(116) 2015
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HR & Professional Training

The significance of effective employee induction – onboarding as a key element of a training policy

by Magdalena Wysocka, senior staff advisor, Rödl & Partner
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The first day in a new job usually remains in the memory for long. 

The emotions – stress, anxiety, excitement – are so strong they can hardly be kept under control. New employees want to show their best side to reassure their new employer that they have made the right choice.

Yet, whether both parties prove happy with the engagement depends just as well on the first impression the employer and their onboarding programme make on the employee.

The induction process should start even before the formal commencement of work. Professionally prepared employment documentation, a signing ceremony and advance information on what the first day of work is will look like will confirm new employees’ belief that they have found the right place to work at. Friendly advice on things like the dress code may further lower the stress of the new job.

During their first day of work, new employees should not feel as if their presence surprises anybody. Everyone they will come across as they enter the organisation should have been notified in advance of the new arrivals and show kindness and support. A ready work station with all the needed tools and an active e-mail account go without saying. Ideally, a welcome e-mail is waiting in the inbox and the HR team will conduct the introductory training on the first day. 

Onboarding – or even a whole training series – is gaining popularity, especially among large organisations with high staff turnover. They have developed fixed standards and procedures of recruitment and hiring. Over the first several days you should teach the new employees as much as possible about your organisation – its values, culture, standards and procedures. Additionally, you should tell the new employees about the training policy and the fringe benefits they are entitled to, and give them some practical hints like, say, good places to eat near the office. Of course, the training should be delivered in an interesting way, that is, the multimedia presentation should contain photographs and video clips and the speaking part should include anecdotes from the company's life. Additionally, you should give selected content to the newcomers in hard copy, e.g. a file binder or a handbook. Thus, the mass of information that falls on them in their first days is easier to grasp. 

The stress related to a new workplace also affects the employees who are going to work with the newcomers. Therefore, in planning the onboarding process you should consider as well the integration of employees new and old. Yet before the new ones start working you should notify the other employees, especially those who are going to work with them directly, of the incoming new colleagues. On the first day you should walk the new people around the company and introduce them to the rest. It’s a good idea to arrange a small meeting with the team they are soon to join. During such a meeting, held in an informal manner, everyone should be introduced and you should tell the new employees about the work in the team. That way they can sense the team atmosphere and interrelations, eg who the informal group leader is and who can easily be approached for help.  

The induction lasts a couple or even a couple dozen of weeks. As a consequence, in addition to your efforts during the recruitment and the first days of work, you should take long-term care of the new employees. In the first place, pay attention to the role of the HR department or, even better, the recruiter of the new employees. He or she should monitor the entire induction process and be available to the new employees in case of any problems or doubts. Some organisations designate specific people to help the new employees learn the ropes and to serve and support them. They are most often the members of the team, the closest workmates or occupants of similar positions and sometimes immediate superiors. Occasionally, such a caretaker grows naturally as the relations between the new employees and the team members develop, but you are better off appointing one in advance and clearly defining his or her tasks.

A well-designed onboarding programme brings a multitude of benefits. Above all, through efficient induction employees become independent and effective much faster, while the employer may count on greater commitment and loyalty. A good onboarding programme may, or actually should, contribute to the building of an attractive employer brand image. Employees who are unhappy from the very beginning of their work tend to share a bad opinion of their employer. Therefore, you should make every effort to prepare the organisation to welcome the new employees. Besides, it simply pays off. If an employee quits after just a few weeks, you will face the significant costs of running recruitment and going through the adaptation process again (poorer performance in the first weeks). That is why I recommend implementing an efficient onboarding programme in every organisation.

All new employees at Rödl & Partner undergo training on the first day of work. During that training they receive a file containing the most needed information about our firm and the office life.

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