Ahhhhhhhh, that first week in a new job feeling. Shiny shoes, gleaming teeth, a kicking iTunes playlist and lots of lovely people to meet – fantastic. What could possibly go wrong for an eager newbie ready to unleash their talents, conquer the world and be back in time for dinner?
Well, apart from the minor frustrations of everyday life (such as roadworks, technology tantrums and cancelled appointments), there’s always the jaunty hat of conscious incompetence to wear. Cue shiny palms, gritted teeth, a kicking headache – and for some lovely people, the joys of impostor syndrome. (“I’m a non-entity, get me out of here?!”)
Internal communications that welcome employees from day one are a great way to build engagement, reinforce business values and prove that your organisation cares about and listens to its people. In many cases, induction is the employee’s first in-depth interaction with your brand; after the ‘first dates’ of the recruitment process, you’re now contractually attached and hopefully on course for a long and happy relationship. (Much better than an expensive and messy separation after investing all that time, money and effort!)
So how well does your organisation measure up to its brand promise? If you’re not entirely sure, here are three quick questions to prompt ideas…
1. What does it feel like to be a new employee in your organisation?
It’s easy to think of induction as being HR’s responsibility, but the process is also an insight to the quality of team communications. Tracing the steps of a prospective recruit from appointment letter through their first weeks in post can reveal all sorts of things about your business – building and office signage, literature, emails and working environment may all influence perceptions of organisational culture, for better or worse.
For example, whilst this sounds obvious, has a workspace been allocated? And if so, has anyone checked that the predecessor’s equipment, work notes, half-eaten sandwiches and random items of clothing were cleared away? (Yes, it has been known…!) Also, if technology is part of the job, is it set up and ready to use from day one?
Information-wise, if there is a focus on issuing contracts or legally-worded documents, formal checklists, or lengthy handbooks/manuals, it’s worth bearing in mind that this may be viewed as ‘stick’ (performance-led) rather than ‘carrot’ (motivational) tools, unless there are sections dedicated to making life easier for people. Yes, they are important elements of the employer’s role, but that’s just part of the picture.
Where information is conveyed personally, how consistent is this? If two people start in different teams on the same day, will they get the same overall view of what it means to work in the organisation? This is where branding and values are really put to the test – you can tell people your values every month but if the actions don’t live up the words, then it’s just words. A good way of checking this out is to ask new starters specific questions about work to test their understanding, or use anonymous 60-second surveys, rather than general ‘are you getting on OK?’ discussions.
2. What informal communications systems are available to new starters?
Apart from the ‘official stuff’, work can be a social and political minefield. So who can your new team members turn to with low-level questions? Defaulting to ‘ask your manager’ may not always be appropriate (for either party) so assigning go-to people for certain topics may help.
For example, it’s not always obvious on day one if you should answer the phone in a particular way. Can you eat your lunch at your workstation, in particular rooms, or only off-site? When is it OK to use a mobile phone? And once and for all, what does smart casual really mean?
3. How else do your teams engage and inspire new recruits?
There are no rules here, as type and nature of role is key – administration assistants and field-based people may well have very different expectations. But most people will appreciate genuine attempts to help them belong and feel part of the team and this doesn’t need to break the budget.
A small (or even hand-drawn) card to say hello; welcome sheet with job-specific ‘nuggets’ for quick reference; official ‘glad you’re here’ introduction at team meetings; booking a chat with a top performing colleague; an informal video-watching session (popcorn optional!); or just a personalised list of targets and suggestions where it’s OK to ‘play’ or learn during the first month may all help people to feel they belong. Whatever feels right and relevant to your business is worth a punt. It all helps to build confidence and team spirit in the early days of a new job, and will hopefully equip your enthusiastic appointment for any challenges that lie ahead.
If you need to review your internal communications – from employee surveys or workshops, to business transformation programmes and employer branding – please email our team, or send me a message on LinkedIn.