Pro HR

First Impressions Count

Organisations generally invest significant amounts of time on the recruitment process to fill vacancies, plus checking the credentials of the preferred candidate and getting them signed up. After investing all that time and money it’s important to get your new employee off to a good start.

It may be timely to review your induction process, or if you don’t really have a process, to consider developing some structure around it. The first impression you make on your new employee in the initial days and weeks will very likely have a lasting impact. Assuming they arrive at the new job excited and enthusiastic, the last thing you want to do is diminish the new energy you just brought to the business.

These days most businesses give priority to a sound health and safety induction, which is absolutely critical. This needs to be done by someone who believes in safety and can communicate your culture and expectations relating to safety. It needs to be documented so you have evidence of completion but try to ensure that it doesn’t come across merely as a compliance exercise to ‘tick the boxes’.

Taking time to think beyond the essentials like health and safety means you can create a well organised and consistent experience for your new hires. They will feel like they have joined a professional, well run organisation and that you care about your employees by taking time to settle them into the new job thoroughly.

It is beneficial to include organisation history, values and culture in your induction programme. This helps the new employee to connect with the organisation and to begin to understand ‘how we do things around here’ and why that is. It can also engender pride in the business (we are the biggest, the first, fastest growing, started from small beginnings, proud to be family owned etc.)

In a small organisation you may only need a one page checklist to remind you of the key information to cover off (key people the new appointee should meet, building security and facilities, payroll paperwork, computer log-in, any equipment or uniform to be issued, house rules, hours and break times and so on).

In larger organisations you will probably have a policy manual for the employee to read through and sign-off. This may be on-line, as so many things are these days. This is great for allowing the employee to go through the information at their own pace and to refer back to material later, and can be presented in a very engaging way with useful links to follow and video content and so forth.

There is often a lot of information to present to new employees so you need to consider ‘information overload’ and what can realistically be absorbed on day one or two. Consider the pace of the induction process and what you can reasonably spread over the first week rather than the first day.

While the paperwork and/or the online process is valuable you also need to be careful not to overlook the human factor. This includes introducing new hires to key people so they know who’s who in person, rather than a list of names and positions in the manual. Each of those introductions also makes the person feel welcome and is opportunity to express how pleased the organisation is to have them on board.

Most organisations will assign another team member as a ‘buddy’ for the first few weeks. This provides someone the new hire can ask what may feel like dumb questions in the early stages, rather than having to bother their manager. Hopefully they can also provide some social support in the first few

days to make sure their new colleagues meets team mates, knows where to park, where to buy lunch, and has some company for lunch if wanted at the start. Again, it’s important to choose the right person for the buddy role, making sure they are approachable, knowledgeable about company processes, have the time to devote to the task and will be a positive influence.

The little things count. Make sure someone is assigned to get the workplace essentials ready for when the new employee arrives so they feel welcome and that you are well organised – workstation, computer, phone, stationery, uniform, PPE, equipment, and so on. It also means they can be productive quickly, rather than waiting for email access and IT log-ins to be set up.

We all know that being thrown in the deep end is not a good way to start a new job. Having invested in finding the right person, it makes sense to put some effort into settling them into the job well to make the appointment a success for both parties.