Good induction can help retain employees

Good induction can help retain employees

Srinivasan Iyer

The first few days in an organisation are very important to every new employee. How he is inducted into the organisation and accepted by his peers and bosses will actually determine how long he will stay. Induction in most companies is just a ritual. However, if effectively undertaken in spirit, it can go a long way in quelling attrition.

Typically, a new medical representative in a pharma company is either put through intensive product training or sent directly to the field for on-the-job coaching by his Area Manager. On-the-job coaching is akin to mentoring as the new incumbent observes his boss on the job and learns valuable inputs. It instills confidence in the new representative. Technical training also has its importance as it has intensive sessions on the product, detailing, retail chemist call, prescription audit, personal order booking and stockist handling. But on-the-job coaching and technical training should not be confused with induction.

How is this organisation and working environment? How should I interact with my peers and bosses? What are the dos and don’ts? These and several other questions make starting a new job a demanding and stressful experience for most new incumbents. New employees need support to fully integrate into the organisation and its ways as quickly and easy as possible. And this is where induction plays a big role.

Why spend money on induction? Simply because employees who settle quickly into their new job will become productive and efficient at an early stage and in turn will experience feelings of worth and satisfaction. Every penny spent on induction is worth its weight if you compare the saving in costs on repeated recruitment, training and staff turnover in the absence of induction. A well structured induction inculcates belongingness and pride in new employees.

When should the induction process start? Induction is an extension of recruitment. The moment the decision is made to recruit an employee, he should be put through a structured induction process. Even before the employee joins, the HR should make proper arrangements for his seating. Obvious as it may seem, there are several cases where new employees are not allotted their workstation and computer for at least a week. This does not do any good to the company’s brand as an employer.

The HR department should send out a corporate mailer informing everyone in the company about the new joinee a day before he/she is scheduled to join the organisation. The HR manager must necessarily see every new employee on his first day of employment to carry out the necessary personnel and administrative arrangements. He should then present the new employee with an induction kit that should ideally include the employee welcome letter, personal information form, the employee’s job description, the employee handbook, the corporate induction schedule and the corporate induction learning material.

While most companies have an induction process, it is perceived as a HR responsibility. However, induction will not be successful without the active involvement of the line managers. It is the immediate manager’s responsibility to ensure that an induction programme is implemented for every new employee who joins the team. The Manager, in whose department the new employee joins, should send a detailed mail to his team members informing them about the new member in the team.

What should go in to a good induction? A good induction should include two phases: corporate induction and local induction. The corporate induction is common for all employees irrespective of their cadre, department or location. The local induction would be specific to the role of the employee and would be conducted in his department by his immediate superior.

Ideally, a company should hold corporate induction sessions that all new employees must compulsorily attend. The corporate induction should be of three to five days and should include all relevant information about the company, the organisational chart, its products and facilities. It should provide an overview of the organisation and enable the new employee to see where they fit in to the big picture. The employee should be briefed about the organisation’s vision, mission and values. At Eli Lily, values are an important part of the induction.

A brief description of the history of the organisation and its milestones instills pride in the new incumbent. If this is followed by a session on the way ahead and how it presents opportunities for everyone to grow, it re-assures the new employee that his decision to join the organisation was right and timely. This should be followed by introduction of the key people in the organisation. Two complete sessions are devoted at Themis Laboratories during the corporate induction for organisational history, milestones and challenges.

Cultural fit is very important. Hence, briefing the new employee about the management philosophy and the organisational culture is vital. New employees also need to be coached on organisational sensitivity, grooming and business etiquette. Besides responsibility orientation and support goals, new members of the family need to learn how to be an effective brand ambassador of the organisation

Every organisation has its own policies and procedures. These include the leave policies, administration policies, the IT policy, the Safety, Health and Environment policy and the Quality policy. These should be briefed to the employees and also included in the employee handbook. It’s better to learn the do’s and don’ts outright rather than learn it the hard way through trial and error.

Care should be taken that the new incumbent is not bombarded with details or bulldozed with an over doze of talks and power point slides. A good corporate induction should incorporate case studies, role plays, video films and simulated exercises that are fun and yet serve the purpose.

In addition to the corporate induction, new employees need to be put through a local induction that is specific to their area of work. This should be conducted by the immediate manager to whom the incumbent is supposed to report. The new employee should be explained as to how his job fits into the structure of the department.

The socialisation of a new employee is a critical part of the induction and can reflect in the employee’s satisfaction in their new working environment. Managers need to arrange a departmental meeting on the first day of the new employee to formally introduce him to the team. Arrangements should also be made for the new employee to visit other departments with which he needs to work closely in the course of his duties.

How long should the induction be? Induction is not a one day introduction to the people in the department. It needs to be paced over the first three months. GSK is one organisation where induction is an intensive exercise that is religiously followed in letter and spirit.

A good induction practice demands that managers ensure that the employee understands how his/her performance will be appraised and how it is linked to pay. Training specific to the job is also an important part of induction. Finally, induction is about coaching and mentoring. Every manager should help his new team member to chart out a personal development action plan with clear measurable objectives. These objectives should be reviewed regularly through the first three months and revised to more long-term objectives at the end of this period.

(The author is the CEO of MPower Business Facilitators, apart from a strategic management consultant. He can be contacted at srini@mpowerexcellence.com)