Just like the start of a friendship or a relationship, the first few weeks of an employee joining a new company can be emotional and exciting, and for both the employee and their new employer there will be some ups and downs. It’s also a chance for both sides to form an impression of one another that will determine the length and the success of the relationship, while improving employee engagement from the very first day.
As the Head of Learning and People Experience at Reward Gateway, I’m tasked with setting up global induction processes as well as help managers onboard their new employees with general training, and ensuring our new starters feel valued and well invested during their first few weeks here. We’re in the process of building out longer-term development programs to help our people be better at their job (you may have read my colleague’s post on our views on L&D earlier).
Whether your company has just hired their 10th employee, or their 1000th, familiarizing employees with important company information and getting them to understand your business goals and purpose is key to producing an engaged workforce.
HR tackles this by implementing employee induction programs to help their new starters adjust to the new job and atmosphere, and give them some important tools and knowledge that they can use to succeed in their role.
It’s good to note that sometimes “induction” and “orientation” are used interchangeably, but an induction is the same for all employees and can last from a few days to a few weeks, whereas an orientation is a one-time event that introduces a new employee to their job, environment and responsibilities that are dependent on the specific role and usually will happen after (or at the same time as) induction.
Outside of this, you’ve also got onboarding, which is an ongoing process to integrate new starts into the company — I’ll go into this in more detail, but this ideally would begin the moment a candidate accepts the job offer.
The building blocks of typical employee induction programs
Employee induction programs are typically made of these pieces:
Company policies and procedures
Studying the company org chart
Getting to know the service or product that a company offers through various online or classroom based levels
These “classes” are designed to bring new starters up to speed quickly so they can start contributing to the business as soon as the last level of the induction is complete.
Induction programs very rarely cover a wider industry knowledge or give new starters enough time to get to know the wider business and how people and teams within interact and fit together.
Quite often the company values and mission are pushed back on the agenda or are simply a page in an employe handbook that’s handed to a new starter on their first day to read in their spare time.
For our own employee induction program, we do the opposite.
At Reward Gateway, we put our mission and values at the core of our induction program, which takes eight days to understand each of our eight company values.
Our values are what we reward against and hold employees accountable to, so it’s natural for us to invest this time in teaching our new hires in-depth about each value. This also sets the level of expectations that each employee will be compared against, as well as explains the specific behaviors that set good examples.
Just like your values and benefits, your induction program always has to change and evolve. One of my favourite ways we’ve done this is through Speaking Up and asking employees to contribute and give honest feedback about our induction.
How to get started
This probably sounds simple, and most HR professionals will say that the core purpose of an induction program is to educate new starters with important knowledge on the business and their role. But every company is different and should tweak this to reflect on more specific goals that revolve around their vision, mission and values, and serve to their business goals. For us, our vision is that engaged employees deliver more for their organization, and our mission is to make the world a better place to work.
Our induction program at Reward Gateway has 3 main goals:
Introduce new hires to the company, people and the business geography (core responsibilities of each department), and the ways we work together
Create a feeling of belonging and loyalty by understanding how each and every person in the company can contribute to achieving the company goals and understanding their own “how” behind our mission
Explain our culture and company values through examples that show what great performance is and what do we reward and recognize against
Your employee induction program objectives may be as wide or as narrow as they need to be to deliver an amazing onboarding experience for your new starters and hiring managers. Achieving this objectives should be a solid base for employees to build their role specific knowledge on, and foster the existing learning culture in your organization.
In my next post, we’ll explore four specific ways to strengthen (or start!) your own induction program.