Mace’s human resources director tells you how to make new employees feel welcome on their first day and beyond.

Induction is very important to get right – and very easy to get wrong. We go to tremendous effort to find the right people for our organisations but often throw them in at the deep end, hoping they can swim. Induction aims to support new staff in those early days – a bit like water wings or stabilisers on your bike.

New staff need to be integrated quickly into the working environment. The responsibility is usually split between human resources departments and line managers, but both need to be involved. Well-organised inductions start as soon as the new recruit has accepted the job.

Before they arrive

  • Provide company literature – it may be the only time they get a moment to actually read it.
  • Send them a copy of the staff handbook, or give them access to it.
  • Add the new starter to your staff bulletin circulation.
  • Prepare their desk or workstation.
  • Arrange for their computers and phones.
  • Tell other staff about the new starter; circulate an e-mail with their photograph.
  • Check if they have any special needs.

The first day

  • The line manager should be there to meet them. Make it clear you are there to help.
  • Make them feel welcome. What about taking them to lunch?
  • Ask someone (of about their age and experience, if possible) to be a buddy or mentor.
  • Introduce them to the rest of the team and give them a tour of the building.
  • Give them some work to do. They are probably used to being busy and will need something to get started on.

The first week

  • Don’t overload them with work or information. They need enough to feel useful but they don’t need it all yet – you may frighten them off.
  • By joining you, new starters have made a huge personal commitment to the company

  • Introduce them to other departments.
  • Tell them about the important conditions of employment – working hours, standards of conduct, holidays and sickness arrangements.
  • If you can’t be there, make sure someone keeps a watchful eye on them, not to check that they are working but to see that things are OK.
  • Let them know the date of the next induction course.

Weeks two and three

  • Make sure they have sufficient work to do and know who to speak to in case of problems.
  • Introduce them to more of the staff.
  • If the newcomer is based at head office, get them out to meet some project/site-based staff.
  • Review progress with them regularly. It is very easy at this stage to become isolated.

The second month …

New staff still need support – make sure there are others around to help.

  • Review performance and clarify the standards required – if they are doing well, tell them. This is also the opportunity to correct any problems.
  • During this time, they should attend an induction course. They can meet other new starters and find out more about what the company does and its culture.
  • The new starter will still need to talk to their manager and their mentor – reassure them that they are not being a nuisance.

...and beyond

  • Ensure that new staff continue to get support.
  • The line manager and the mentor should continue to meet them on a regular basis (fortnightly or monthly).
  • Watch out for signs that they are not happy or that there are problems.