Posted on 22 Nov, 2018 by Neil Sharp

man in lab jacket operating large yellow robotic armIt’s the first day of a promising new career. The candidate you recently offered a job to is now waiting patiently in reception. They are excited and nervous at the same time. They have a million and one questions racing through their head which they hope will be answered during the induction process. But will they?

In this blog post we look at 8 ways manufacturers can ensure their induction process passes the ‘so what’ test. And more importantly, addresses all of the questions and concerns a new starter might have during their first couple of days.

Listen to your staff

One of the most effective ways to enhance your induction process is to ask those that have already been through it to give you some feedback. The HR team may already have some ideas on how to improve things but meeting with staff that recently joined the company and then asking them how they felt the induction process went can be powerful. This approach not only allows current staff to ‘shape’ the future but it also shows that you value their input which can help boost employee engagement. Although each new starter will have experienced different questions and feelings along the way you should be able to spot some trends which can then be built into a revised programme.

Don’t assume people speak the same language

It’s easy to forget just how much technical jargon and acronyms exist within a manufacturing environment. This can be daunting for new starters that join your company, particularly those that come from outside the industry. Rather than waiting for them to guess why not help them out by creating an easy to digest document which explains things?  

Location, location, location

Chances are your induction process already addresses a number of ‘job related’ questions but how many ‘life related’ questions do you answer? You know, like where the nearest bank is, how far away is the post office and where’s the best place to get a decent sandwich from? Away from the day job your staff have busy lives to juggle in between lunch breaks and having good awareness of their (often new) surroundings can help them settle in quickly.  

Add a personal touch

You’ve probably seen those social media posts that show a new starter’s desk covered in Apple products, bouquets of flowers, luxury stationery sets and other company ‘swag’. These images certainly seem to help increase likes and shares on social media. And I’m sure in some cases they impress the new starter as well. But for many companies, splashing out to this level simply isn’t realistic, so what are the alternatives? Well, putting aside flashy gadgets for a moment there are a number of ways to add a personal touch. For instance, you could ask your CEO to write a letter, thanking them for joining the company and explaining the opportunities that lie ahead? Or why not create a bespoke welcome pack which contains all of the information they are going to need over the next few days. Maybe you could arrange to buy them lunch on the first day so it’s one less thing for them to worry about? To some extent it doesn’t matter too much what you do, it’s the fact that you do something which shows you care.

Get your timings right

How long should your induction process last? What are you hoping to achieve during this time and what impact will this have on the new starter? It’s important to be realistic with how much information you expect them to absorb and retain. If in the past you have been trying to cram everything into just one day and have found that to be exhausting, just imagine how tiring it must be for the new starter. Each business is unique and therefore the induction process timings will need to adapt but a three to five day process might be more effective? Don’t be tempted to short cut the plan though, even if you really needed the new starter a month ago. Three or even five days is not a long period of time to correctly introduce a new member of the team to your company and any attempts to short cut their induction are likely to come back and haunt you later on.  

What do they really need to know?

Getting the sequencing right when it comes to information delivery is crucial during the induction process. For example, failing to cover Health and Safety expectations prior to letting a new starter operate production equipment is potentially dangerous. Whereas explaining in depth how the quality system works or how engineering change notes are managed might be OTT to cover in the first couple of hours, especially if you haven’t explained yet what the company does and what types of customers you work with. Again much of this may seem like common sense but if you have implemented a ‘one size fits all’ programme for a number of years you might find some parts of the process don’t really work anymore.

How many people work here?!

A common mistake for many companies is to walk new starters around on the first day and introduce them to everybody. All 237 staff. The purpose of this is to make them feel welcome but unless you have ten or so people in your company it’s probably a waste of everybody’s time. Expecting someone on their first day to remember the names and faces of hundreds of employees is not realistic. Of course, they need to know who their Line manager is and key members of their new team but that’s probably enough for the first day. That’s not to say the new starter shouldn’t then be introduced to everybody, in fact we encourage it, but at a time that makes sense and when they will be better placed to remember who is who.

Document your plan and share it with the team

The induction process tends to be owned by the HR team but it will involve many other departments. It’s important to document your plan and make sure everybody involved in delivering the plan understands the timings and their role. If one department goes off-piste and starts waffling on then the rest of the day is likely to go downhill. First impressions count and you want to avoid the new starter sitting awkwardly whilst an unprepared team member scrabbles around in front of them trying to work out what they should be covering.

The induction process should evolve as your business grows. It’s important not to assume anything and if in doubt, you should try and answer all potential queries and questions regardless of how trivial they might seem. You want your new starter engaged and ready to make a positive impact as soon as possible but they can only do this if they fully understand the culture of your business, which services you provide, how you make a difference to your customers and of course, which shop nearby sells the best ham and cheese sandwich.    

First six months

Topics: Manufacturing Roles, Best Practice

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About the Author

Neil Sharp
Neil Sharp
Previously holding sales, account management and customer service roles, Neil has over 20 years’ experience within the Electronics Manufacturing Services industry. Neil heads up the marketing departme...read more