Introduction

An employee’s first impressions of an organisation have a significant impact on their integration within the team and job satisfaction. Induction is an opportunity for an organisation to welcome their new recruit, help them settle in and ensure they have the knowledge and support they need to perform their role. For an employer, effective induction may also affect employee turnover, absenteeism and employer brand.

This factsheet covers the purpose of induction for both the employer and employee. It looks at the induction process, including who should attend, who should be involved, what to include (as well as what to avoid), and the role of HR and L&D teams. There’s also an induction checklist to help organisations plan or refine their own process.

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The impressions made when someone starts work for an organisation have a lasting impact on how they view their employer, so a welcoming and effective experience is key to making this first impression a positive one.

Induction is the process through which employees adjust or acclimatise to their new jobs and working environment. As part of this, ‘orientation’ can be used for a specific event that new starters attend, and ‘socialisation’ can describe the way in which new employees build working relationships within their new teams. Some people use the term ‘onboarding’ to cover the whole process from an individual’s contact with the organisation before they formally join, through to understanding the business’ ways of working and getting up to speed in their role.

Every organisation, large or small, should have a well-considered induction that provides a new employee with a positive experience of the organisation.

The length and nature of the induction depends on the job role, the new employee’s background, and the size and nature of the organisation. A standard induction course is unlikely to achieve its aims, so should be adapted as appropriate for all new starters.

Induction ensures that employees integrate well into, and across, their new organisation. Research demonstrates that induction programmes benefit both employers and employees. For employers, these include reducing turnover and absenteeism, and increasing employee commitment and job satisfaction. For employees, starting a new role in a new organisation can be an anxious time and an effective induction programme alleviates anxiety. Induction enables them to understand more about the organisation, their role and ways of working, as well as to meet new colleagues.

New recruits need to understand the organisation, the culture, the people, and what’s expected of them in their role, so an effective programme will contain multiple, integrated elements. These elements include health and safety information required by law and practical information on the working environment and facilities. The programme should also familiarise the new employee with the company's working arrangements relating to time, location and patterns of flexible working, if any as well as its culture and values. It should also provide information specific to their role.

Who needs an induction programme?

Managers (with guidance from HR) need to invest time in inducting all new employees. Some groups have specific needs, for example graduate trainees, people returning from career breaks, long-term absence or parental leave, technical specialists, senior appointments and directors.

Tailor-made programmes should also be available for groups such as job-sharers, temporary staff, promoted staff, transferred staff and remote and hybrid workers. Induction programmes are important for employees working as part of such arrangements to ensure they are clear about the nature and objectives of the arrangements.

A well-designed induction programme results in a positive first experience of an organisation. It means the employee:

  • Settles in quickly.
  • Integrates into their team.
  • Understands the organisation’s values and culture.
  • Feels supported
  • Becomes productive quickly
  • Works to their highest potential.

Without an effective induction, new employees can get off to a bad start, and lack clarity on their role and how it links to the organisation’s goals, which could impact on their intention to stay in the role. Turnover like this results in:

  • Additional cost and time for recruiting a replacement.
  • Wasted time for the inductor.
  • Lowering of morale for the remaining staff.
  • Detriment to the leaver’s employment record.
  • Having to repeat the unproductive learning curve of the leaver.
  • Damage to the organisation’s employer brand.

According to our 2020 Resourcing and talent planning survey, 42% of organisations are improving their induction process to enhance retention.

In addition, as more organisations are working remotely because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s particularly important to tailor induction programmes so new joiners have a positive experience and additional support to connect with new colleagues.

Responsibility for the different elements of the induction process will vary depending on the size and structure of the business.

Although induction of a specific employee is the line manager’s responsibility, the design, development and evaluation of induction policy and programmes is largely the responsibility of HR or L&D specialists. These specialists may also implement some aspects of induction and will likely be the first point of contact the employee has with the organisation and ensure that important information (such as bank details, right to work documentation, etc) is collected and that the employee knows what to expect from the induction programme.

People professionals increasingly recognise the value of employer brand as part of the induction process. In many cases, this has led to a focus on the onboarding and induction process to ensure it reflects the employer brand and the values the organisation is promoting. This might, for example, mean reviewing pre-employment communications sent out to new recruits to make sure they are welcoming and engaging. Listen to our podcast on rethinking staff induction for case studies.

The induction process depends on the size and nature of an organisation as well as the role of the recruit. 

Regardless of organisation size, an induction processes should cover practical information about organisational procedures (e.g. building orientation, inclusion and diversity, health, safety, and wellbeing). Induction should also include information about systems and procedures, company strategy and services (such as company values and behaviours), alongside job specific information (e.g. department information, job requirements and objectives), and an introduction, virtual or in-person, to the wider team. This ensures new recruits have something in their diary in the first few weeks, and understand where their role fits and how they can work with others. It’s also a good opportunity to share details of employee network groups and social media platforms, also organisational initiatives, that they can get involved with.

This information can be communicated in a variety of different ways; in organisations where the workforce is dispersed across different locations, digital tools allow new employees to meet colleagues in other areas of the business. However it’s managed, the process is key in ensuring a positive and engaging experience for the new starter.

Organisations are also paying attention to employee experience before the first day of employment, ensuing pre-employment communications are engaging, as well as using social network sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn to put new recruits in touch with each other before they start employment. This is particularly common for graduate intakes. Find out more in our report Putting social media to work: lessons from employers.

It's also important that the process continues into employment - managers and HR need consider the ongoing support that a new employee will need to order to settle in and acquire the knowledge they need for their role. A ‘buddy’  or coaching and mentoring system can provide support to help new employees settle in, and ensure new starters understand the learning and development opportunities available to them.

Using a formal induction course

For some, often larger, organisations, the induction process is formalised with a combination of one-to-one discussions and group learning sessions.

The advantages of an induction course include:

  • Ensuring that all new recruits are given a consistent positive message portraying a clear employer brand, values and culture.
  • Using a range of engaging communication techniques such as group discussions or projects
  • Enabling new recruits to socialise with each other and build cross-functional relationships.
  • Applying digital tools to share information where new recruits are dispersed.

However, there are also caveats which include:

  • If not tailored correctly, induction may contain topics that are unlikely to appeal to every new employee.
  • Induction may be scheduled weeks, or even months, after the inductee joins the organisation, which risks information being shared too late.
  • Induction can be too impersonal and involve managers and people professionals rather than colleagues and local supervisors.

What to avoid

  • Providing too much, too soon - the inductee must not be overwhelmed by a mass of information, especially on the first day. 
  • Pitching presentations at an inappropriate level - where possible, presentations should be tailored to take into account prior knowledge of new employees.
  • HR rather than local managers providing all the information - it should be a shared process.
  • Creating an induction programme which generates unreasonable expectations by overselling the job.
  • Creating an induction programme that focuses only on administration and compliance but does not reflect organisational values.

Evaluation

An effective induction programme should be engaging and reassure the new employee that they have made the right decision to join the business.

The induction process should be evaluated to determine whether it’s meeting the needs of the new recruits and the organisation. This should include opportunities for feedback at the end of the induction process and allow new recruits to highlight areas for improvement.

As well as gathering feedback from new employees, it's important to identify key measures of success of the induction process and evaluate the process against these metrics. Information from turnover statistics or employee feedback can also be used – particularly from those who leave within the first 12 months of employment.

Regardless of the format of induction, it’s important to provide practical information on areas of compliance and company policy. Induction shouldn’t be treated as a ‘tick box’ exercise, but there may be some areas where it useful to keep a record of the training provided – for example, cyber security, data protection or health and safety training.

The list below outlines the key information that can be included in an induction process alongside meetings with colleagues and managers.

Pre-employment

  • Joining instructions
  • Proof of the legal right to work in the country (if required, and not already done during recruitment)
  • New starter forms (enabling the set-up of bank account details and eligible benefits from day one)
  • Conditions of employment
  • Organisational literature or other media

On-site health and safety

  • Emergency exits
  • Evacuation procedures
  • First aid facilities
  • Health and safety policy
  • Accident reporting
  • Protective clothing
  • Specific hazards
  • Policy on smoking
All workplaces compliance
  • Security procedures
  • Confidentiality
  • Training such as data protection, bribery and modern slavery

Facilities and IT, as appropriate

  • Site map - canteen, first aid post, etc
  • Guided tour of the on-site workplace and explanation of local procedures
  • Telephone and computer system information
  • Security pass
  • Car park pass
  • Opening hours
  • Remote / flexible working tools and access to work systems, including relevant file sharing and communication tools

Organisation information

  • Organisation background
  • Organisation chart - global / departmental
  • Organisation strategy
  • Products and services
  • Quality systems
  • Customer care policy

Culture and values

  • Mission statement
  • Employer brand
  • Values

Benefits and policies

  • Pay - payment date and method
  • Tax and national insurance
  • Workplace / stakeholder pension schemes
  • Other benefits
  • Expenses and expense claims
  • Working time, including hours, flexi-time, and arrangements for breaks
  • Holidays, special leave
  • Probation period
  • Inclusion and diversity policies
  • Wellbeing strategy, including absence / sickness procedure
  • Internet, intranet, email and social media policies
  • Performance management system
  • Discipline procedure
  • Grievance procedure
  • Employee resource groups

Role-specific information

  • Clear outline of the job / role requirements
  • Introduction to the team and ways of working
  • Meeting with key senior employees (either face-to-face, or via technology)
  • Organisational orientation; explanation of how the employee fits into the team and how their role fits with the overall strategy and goals

Learning and development

  • Development opportunities and in-house courses
  • CPD and Personal Development Plan
  • Career management

Books and reports

ACAS. (2015) Starting staff: induction. London: Acas.

ROBSON, F. (2009) Effective inductions. CIPD toolkit. London: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

Visit the CIPD and Kogan Page Bookshop to see all our priced publications currently in print.

Journal articles

DAVILA, N. and PIÑA-RAMÍREZ. W. (2018) Let’s talk about onboarding metrics. TD: Talent Development. December. Reviewed in In a Nutshell, issue 85.

HOWLETT, E. (2020) How to get onboarding right. People Management (online). 23 January.

ODOM, C.L. (2018) Onboarding in the gig economy. TD: Talent Development. Vol 72, No 9. pp38-42.

CIPD members can use our online journals to find articles from over 300 journal titles relevant to HR.

Members and People Management subscribers can see articles on the People Management website.

Dr Gill Maxwell: Research Adviser (maternity cover), CIPD

The focus of Gill’s role is research on the people profession, now and in the future. Her research interests and publications span a range of strategic human resource management topics, mostly recently centered on models of employment in performance critical roles. 



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Rethinking staff inductions

Episode 89: This episode offers guidance on getting those all-important first impressions right using creative and effective staff inductions.

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