How are your staff induction programs? Inspiring? Boring? Non-existent? They dont have to be. You can do amazing things to make new employees feel part of the big story.
We say that our employees are the essence of our organisations. We say we can’t thrive and prosper without their engagement, their ideas and their energy. We say that we need to find and retain great people and then support them to be the best they can.
And yet when push comes to shove, this is where so many organisations will cut corners and make-do. Usually, it’s the HR and Internal Comms teams that are left holding the bag (and their best ideas). It’s a scramble a secure budgets to honour the grand philosophies that flow so easily in meetings, annual reports and mission statements. It just doesn’t make any sense.
The Dreaded Induction:
I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently, talking with HR managers across different organisations about the challenges and frustrations in supporting new team members. Yes, I’ve been thinking about the dreaded induction program.
Staff induction programs are one of the great missed opportunities in most organisations. It’s time to think about why we do them, what we hope to achieve and even the word we use to describe the process.
In a recent post by Seth Godin he talks about the problem of naming things and how that can affect the outcome of what we achieve or even attempt in organisations. You can read his post here. To me, the term ‘induction’ sends the wrong message from the start. It’s really top-down: suggesting something you ‘do’ to someone to make them fit ‘into’ something else. Maybe another word would be better.
Something like orientation would do the trick. ‘Orientation’ suggests adjusting perspective, it suggests finding balance and it suggests a journey with a guide. If we are well oriented, we know where we’re going. We know our position in this new organisation. We are on our way. And that’s really what it’s all about.
We have to let go of the notion of induction being a way to force-feed new employees with a rigid idea of what our organisation is. Obviously, there will be information that all new employees need to know: the structure of our business, our expectations, our business practices, our values and objectives.
Inspiring and Motivating Opportunity:
But we need to encourage new employees to imagine themselves in the mix and we can do this easily with an investment in creative and participatory elements. This is an opportunity not just for new team members to learn about the organisation and reflect on how they might grow with it. It’s also a killer opportunity for organisations to learn about them. This essential element is so often overlooked.
The first formal meeting with new employees is also our first chance to hear their story, identify their strengths and invite them to be an engaged part of our team. There are many creative ways to bring some zing using resources and approaches that will be useful across other areas of your Learning and Development programs, Internal Communications and the business generally. It is also the first opportunity to set the tone of your communication and assure new team members that you WANT to be understood with REAL language and accessible ideas.
How to do it:
Think about how resources that you might develop for induction can bring business benefits across your organisation. In marketing, internal comms, website and stakeholder presentations. Often other departments will share their budgets if they fully understand the benefits to their own area of business. Dynamic story components might include:
- A video depicting your brand story: why tell it when you can show it? Other uses include your company website, investor presentations, online annual reports and staff engagement strategies.
- Short video profiles of recent inductees and their journeys with the company so far: inspire newcomers to imagine their career journey with you. Improve morale and motivation of existing staff too.
- Success stories: identifying with the stars; useful for other key company events such as award nights.
- Stories of your leaders: help leaders build relationships and their own stories. Leaders need help too.
- Graphics to tell the story of your staff: who are we, where do we come from, what do we share?
- Activities during induction to gather stories of the new recruits: share through your intranet or newsletters
- Oral storytelling by leaders: support for leaders here will encourage them to appear at your events and provide compelling content for their own presentations to external stakeholders.
In a nutshell
Don’t bore new staff, engage and inspire them instead. You can never have enough stories. New team members will effect business outcomes across our organisations. Lets take a long term view of how the organisation as a whole will prosper from investment here.