The Importance of Induction

Ron Jones

I am surprised at the number of organizations that fail to implement any form of induction and initial performance goal setting.

Most of us – if not all HR managers – accept that the selection process for new recruits is not always perfect. Yet somehow we fail to implement strategies that protect the organization – and the employee – from making a bad choice.

Induction has to be about how the employee is welcomed to the organization: how they establish their relationship with colleagues and with supervisors; how they engage with the overall direction and vision of the organization and how they see their role within the structure. How the individual responds to this and performs will then be a matter of assessment during the probation period.

HR Managers have a responsibility to develop more welcoming processes for bringing new staff on-board.

Induction should form an integral component of the selection process: we should allow for a comprehensive assessment of someone’s skills and performance capability whilst actually on the job. Interestingly, many of us use on-the-job training as a component of an overall training and development framework, but we don’t set out to formalize this for new appointments.

Inductions, where they are used, tend to be an event rather than a process. The event typically comprises a brief overview of the organization by one or more senior manager, an explanation of the policies and procedures which have to be followed, and an appointment with HR to fill in various forms so that an email address can be established and payroll knows who the next of kin is.

Inductions are usually seen by the HR manager as the beginning point of the probation process. At some stage over the next few weeks there may be some discussion about how well, or how badly, the employee is doing and this may result in a letter confirming the appointment, or not.

It seems to me that it should be much more than this.

Both the employee and the organization have just made a decision which is potentially worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and the significance of this should be acknowledged.

Managers, encouraged by HR, need to particularly engage with their employees during the early period of employment to build a trust partnership that works for both. HR needs to step up and facilitate better communication and understanding so that both the employee and their manager can develop a useful and sustaining employment relationship.

How this relationship develops during the formative period in an organization will influence the future for that employee. In my experience, the contribution made by an employee and the extent of their commitment to the organization are strongly related to the way in which they were treated in the early phase of their career. To the extent that employees join organizations and leave managers is a direct reflection of the failure of the induction and on-boarding process.

HR needs to be in a position where it can actively intervene to ensure new staff are well treated. If the induction process is not successful, then managers have to be held to account.