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Human Resources: Beginning well

Every Issue

Cite as: (2005) 79(4) LIJ, p. 71

A well-organised induction program can help new employees become as effective as possible in their roles.

All new employees go through the stage of adjusting to their new job and organisation.

The learning stage can take anything from hours (getting to know the layout of the building, the computer system etc.) to months (understanding the firm’s culture).

The aim of any induction program is to get the person acquainted with the organisation as soon as possible.

An employee’s first impressions of your organisation will set the scene for the ongoing employment relationship. It is important therefore to ensure the first experience is a positive one.

Each organisation is different and induction programs should be tailored to meet the particular needs of the organisation and also, to some degree, the needs of the individual. However, there are some typical areas that all induction programs should cover.

One of the first considerations is who should run the induction program. Often it is the responsibility of the human resources department to manage and run it, but other options include the practice manager or a senior staff member. Most importantly, an organisation needs to ensure that someone in the organisation has taken on the responsibility to make it happen.

Plan for the arrival of a new employee. This sounds obvious, but a new employee will feel more welcome if you have a desk, computer (and necessary log-ons), phone and number, stationery, paperwork etc. ready for their first day.

New staff need to be provided with a clear job description. Once the employee starts, it is important to reconfirm the responsibilities and objectives of the position. This is best done by the new employee’s direct manager who can set out expectations and address the priority areas.

One way to assist the new staff member to navigate through the organisation is to appoint a “buddy”. This is someone who can be a first point of reference and answer questions of a general nature. The buddy can also help the person to make a smooth entrance into the culture of the organisation.

You may have covered a lot of information about the organisation during the recruitment phase, however, it is now time to put this information into context.

Provide a structure chart and describe to the employee what each area does. This is important even with areas that do not have any direct relation to the person and their position. New staff need to understand all the parts of the business. Also, talk through the business plan and the strategic aims of the organisation.

The more information provided to a new employee, the easier it is for them to engage with the organisation. However, be aware that new employees are often confronted with what can be an overwhelming amount of information. Waiting a few days or the week after to discuss detailed structural and strategic information can help facilitate the person’s understanding.

It is essential that the induction program includes an introduction and explanation of all the firm’s policies and procedures.

These policies and procedures will differ in each organisation, however, each employee must know the policies on harassment and discrimination, equal opportunity, health and safety, computer use, confidentiality and privacy. Best practice is also to have the person sign-off their understanding of the policies’ content and application.

To make the new employee feel welcome it is also important to introduce them to the other staff in the organisation.

In a small business it may be practical to personally introduce the person. In larger organisations, face-to-face introductions may be impracticable and other options include taking a photograph of the employee and including new starters in regular staff communications.

Creating a positive impression from the start by using a well-planned induction process will help new employees to learn their new job as soon as possible and for the organisation to capitalise on the investment in the new person. l


KATIE ROUND is the LIV’s human resources manager. For further information on this column and other HR issues ph 9607 9410.

hrcolumn@liv.asn.au

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