Starting a new job can be daunting. In fact, according to most lists you’ll read it’s one of the most stressful things people will do in their life. Will they fit in? Be successful in their role? Pass their probation? Get on with their boss? It’s a time when we can be at our most vulnerable. To top things off, if someone has had to relocate for the new role, that will add to their anxiety. Six out of ten people voted moving house as their most stressful life event in a 2015 Eon survey. Beginning a new job was third.
From an employer’s perspective this emphasises the importance of getting onboarding and induction right. The first few weeks in a new employee’s role is a perfect opportunity to set them up to succeed in the future with you. Not only does a great induction get new employees up to speed and productive as quickly as possible, it also gives you an opportunity to let them know that they’ve made the right choice in joining your organisation.
Any good induction helps build a strong understanding about the company. It outlines the context you’re operating within, and ensures that new employees are absolutely clear about expectations of them and what good performance looks like.
As part of our work with clients, we also help them to explore how they can create a ‘wow factor’ in their induction programme – something that has a really positive impact on new starters and establishes a strong employer brand. This might be something that celebrates the organisation’s heritage; or it might be something that shows you’re willing to go the extra mile to welcome your new employees. Some companies offer a welcome pack; others provide excellent support to employees that are relocating. Providing buddies for new starters is another way that you can help people settle in. Breathe HR gives six examples of great inductions. It can take lots of different forms, but it’s worth putting some thought and energy into what the ‘wow factor’ in your induction programme might be.
Of course, starting a new job isn’t the only stressful life moment that employees will experience whilst working for you. The death of close relatives, serious illness, break up of relationships and the birth or adoption of children are all important life events that leave people feeling at their most vulnerable.
You may have seen the (now) well-circulated LinkedIn post from a Microsoft employee, David Ertel, where he shares the letter that Microsoft sent directly to his newly born son. The letter says “You represent the most important thing we've all been working toward - the future. Enclosed are some special gifts we selected just for you”. It’s a nice touch. Ertel says “when we received it my wife, my mother and I were floored and could not stop smiling". He goes on to say that getting the letter made him feel like an individual among Microsoft's many thousands of employees, and that he was gratified to see the company take his family into consideration. And it’s certainly the kind of thing that would make most people proud to work for that kind of company. It’s a great response at an important time in that employee’s life.
This struck a chord because it reminds us of the importance of these ‘magic moments’, when companies demonstrate kindness, empathy and excellence at the points in people’s lives when they need it most. There’s a great opportunity for employers to think through how they respond at these critical moments. If you get it right, you’re on a clear path to building loyalty and engagement across your staff team.
If you would like help reviewing your induction programme, or any part of your employee journey please do get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.atkinsonhrconsulting.co.uk.