Induction programs Part I: Have you got a good one?

by 01 Feb 2012

If you’ve used the expression “you will be expected to hit the ground running” in your job advertisements, chances are your induction program consists of a quick office tour – but in the war for talent and retention, first impressions count.

A recent global study by rogenSi into the mindset of new and existing employees found that employers may only have only a 12-month window to consolidate new employees’ commitment and alignment with the organisation’s brand and vision if they hope to retain them in the long term. The stakes are high, as attempting to retain employees who have essentially already ‘signed off’ can be a monumental and costly task. Additionally, the average cost of replacing an outgoing employee can be up to 150% of the departing employee’s annual salary, according to Dr Clark Perry, psychologist and director of rogenSi.

The aim is obviously to get new recruits excited and engaged rather than stressed and anxious about ‘being thrown in the deep end’. Addressing employee expectations at this crucial early stage will often also reassure the new appointee that they have made the right employment decision and ensure greater job satisfaction in the long term.

Organisations will generally have both formal and informal elements to the induction process, from outlining administration procedures and policies, through to introducing colleagues and managers and discretely explaining any office politics. “It’s all about reducing uncertainty. You reduce the stress and ramp up the productivity if you do it well,” said Leslie Alderman, partner with rogenSi.

Indeed research by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research has previously established that employee turnover has a statistically significant and quantitatively large effect on productivity. It was found that if other factors remain constant, the optimal turnover rate that maximises productivity is in the vicinity of 0.3. “In other words, the highest productivity appears where about 30% of total employees changed over a one-year period.”

The Western Australia Department of the Premier and Cabinet has developed an online toolkit for employers and a step-by-step guide on the induction process and expressly details the key elements of exactly what an induction program should achieve. Namely, employers should:

Establish rapport by accelerating a sense of acceptance and belonging to the organisation.

Introduce the organisational culture by explaining “how things really work around here” and the importance that is attached to issues such as punctuality, dress codes, work hours (flexitime timesheets) and codes of behaviour.

Outline the organisational Vision and Mission new appointees need to have a sense of the big picture in relation to the organisation’s current focus and future directions and have some insight to the organisational achievements.

Clarify job role and responsibilities by discussing the expectations of parties, explaining reporting relationships, delegations, levels of authority and decision making, and outlining how good performance will be assessed, measured and rewarded.

Familiarise employees with conditions of employment, facilities and amenities, policies and procedures (such as OHS), whilst avoiding information overload by prioritising what needs to be done and providing information in a staged approach. New employees are expected to remember a lot of new faces, names and facts about their new job, and to prevent an information overload, it’s important to use different mediums to communicate the information, including face to face exchanges, on-line tools, videos, self-directed work exercises and formal and informal meetings and seminars.

Obtain feedback on the effectiveness of the induction process by encouraging feedback from inductees throughout the induction process, supporting continuous review and improvement to existing induction policies and procedures and ensuring that the objectives of the induction are met.

Stay tuned to read Part II of HC Online’s guide to effective on-boarding, in which assigning mentors as part of the process, and tailoring the induction program for different groups are examined.


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