Employment Relations, Leadership & Management

A well-planned induction process is essential for new starters


Some years ago I arrived for my first day at a new job, only to find out that I was being given the extra responsibility of line management. Now this wasn’t in the job description, and was never mentioned during the selection process. What’s more, it was something I’d never done before, and for which I had never received any training.

I guess I took the news like any new employee. I could perhaps have negotiated extra pay, or asked for someone else to have been given the responsibility. But no, as a new employee I felt vulnerable and didn’t wish to make a fuss. So instead I asked for some training and support.

What happened to me was completely unexpected, but problems with new jobs are not without precedent. I’m aware of cases where the job description doesn’t reflect the actual role. Or where the employer no longer feels able to honour leave dates for the pre-booked holiday mentioned at the job interview. Perhaps, worst of all, are the cases where the terms and conditions are not those that were expected.

It is not as if the law can really help. It is unlikely I would have been able to demonstrate a breach of contract (and there was no financial loss anyway). So that was never an option. If I’d kicked up a real stink then the employer might have decided to terminate my contract. Indeed, back when I started that job I’d have needed a whole year of service with my new employer just to be covered by protection from unfair dismissal (today of course, a full two years are needed!).

But surprising as that was, it wasn’t my worst experience. At another previous job I spent the first three weeks sorting through paperwork only. Some people were never told I was starting; and no one was particularly bothered about my actual role, despite me asking for guidance.

Sadly then, when it comes to new starters the employer holds most of the cards. So to avoid problems, it is important for employers to ensure that not only is every aspect of the recruitment and selection process fit for purpose, but that the induction of new employees is also effective. Indeed, expecting a new starter to “just get on with it” is a recipe for failure. Care and planning are certainly needed.

So as well as providing a warm welcome and introduction to new colleagues, it is important to cover during the induction matters such as:

  • The organisation’s role and purpose (including values and vision)
  • The organisational structure
  • The job role itself
  • Key issues affecting the job
  • The appraisal system
  • Training and development needs
  • Key HR policies and procedures
  • Health and safety issues
  • The role of any staff representatives
  • Forthcoming meetings and events

Alongside all of this is a need to ensure that contractual and statutory rights are applied properly. So the new job’s terms and conditions need to be clear; and the custom and practice explained. If not a written contract, then by law a written statement of the terms and conditions of employment should be issued within 8 weeks of the employee starting.

None of this is difficult, but it does require good leadership and management of the induction process. Get it right, and you build trust and confidence. Get it wrong, and your new employee may not settle, or may never perform to their strengths. So investing time and effort in a planned induction is good for the individual and your organisation. From my perspective, this underlines the need for good HR provision; and an effective staff voice to provide oversight.

As it happened, my new job turned out just fine. There was a detailed induction programme, and there was training. Above all I was given plenty of support and encouragement; and I became, according to my team and others, a very good manager.

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