As our thoughts turn to the New Year and the business challenges ahead, we should spare some for the new employees that we will hire in 2016. Can we put hand on heart and say that we will give them the best possible start?
Many businesses have some form of an induction programme. Or it might be fairer to say that they had one. In my experience such programmes are like customer databases: they take a long time to create, then as soon as that effort is over the internal enthusiasm dies. Then the programme becomes a nuisance to administer and its value decays. Before you know it, a new hire is lucky if she ever gets to sit in a room to watch a lackluster presentation by someone who would rather be somewhere else.
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development in the UK has this to say about Induction: "Induction is the process where employees adjust or acclimatise to their jobs and working environment. As part of this, ‘orientation’ is used for a specific course or training event that new starters attend, and ‘socialisation’ can describe the way in which new employees build up working relationships and find roles for themselves within their new teams. Some people use the term ‘onboarding’ to cover the whole process from an individual’s contact with the organisation before they formally join, through to understanding the business’ ways of working and getting up to speed in their new job."
CIPD goes on to say: "Every organisation, large or small, should have a well-considered induction programme. It should provide all the information that new employees need, without overwhelming or diverting them from the essential process of integrating into their team." Wise words? Or just the blooming obvious? Either way, anyone in management knows that delivering a great induction is far harder than most people think.
According to a report by the Society for Human Resource Management in the US, one in 25 people leave a new job just because of a poor onboarding programme. Here are a few practices SHRM recommends you avoid if you really want to set your new hires up for success.
Vague paper-based processing
It’s nearly 2016, so if you’re still using paper-based forms for employees; you’re behind the times. Often times, employees hastily go through and sign onboarding documents without a second thought. When it comes to recalling the information they contain - company policy for example-they may not remember where they placed those documents. Empower your employees by having a system in place that allows them to readily access important company information. Going paperless helps with engaging new hires and encourages them to start off in the right direction.
No formal training
Creating a formal training process is an integral part of the onboarding experience. It helps employees understand the expectations of the workplace. The worst thing you can do is throw an employee into the role without showing them the ropes. By providing the necessary tools and training, the new employee is involved and able to adapt to your organisation’s work style and company culture.
A new employee is going to need guidance to learn all about the company. When a new hire is left to figure out the job by themselves, you run the risk of creating a resentful employee due to lack of direction. Moreover, they’ll more than likely have a negative experience within your company.
Here’s another statistic. Around 80 per cent of new recruits decide within the first six months whether they want to stay with the organisation or not. And the quality of their induction process has a major influence on the Yes or No vote. It’s also well known that most new employees take as much as six months before they add significant value to the organisation. Effective inductions can reduce that time.
What’s the solution? Well it’s certainly not just a matter of rejigging that PowerPoint. To use an American term, you need to apply the Four C’s of Onboarding. Talya N Bauer, a professor at Portland State University, coined these:
- Compliance. The first day basics. The tools to do the job such as passes and passwords, computers and contact lists.
- Clarification is about making goals clear. What are the ambitions of the overall organisation? What’s the brand promise? Who are the key customers? What’s the role of each employee in fulfilling those ambitions and promises?
- Culture means understanding ‘how we do things around here’
- Connection involves understanding the information networks and support mechanism needed to get things done. More importantly, what are the key relationships that need to be generated?
I really think there needs to be a fifth C … and that’s Creativity. Employees deserve to be stimulated and engaged from the outset. Let’s look at employing creativity to do that - in the first week of 2016. Meanwhile, a Happy New Year to you all!
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Chris Harrison has 30 years experience of marketing and advertising. Most of them spent in Africa. He leads the African operations of The Brand Inside, an international company that helps organisations to deliver their brands and strategies through their people. www.thebrandinside.com