It’s easy for us to preach about the importance of induction to an employee’s level of attachment. However the challenges of managing that induction in a way that works for the employee, the business and the HR team can be confronting. There’s value in talking about shared challenges, then giving information that provides tips in the context of that challenge.
Meet Trish O’Neill. Currently HR Manager at Hettich, one of the world’s largest producers of cabinet hardware and fittings, Trish oversees all things people: learning and development; building leadership capability; recruitment and selection; organisational development as well as policy, employee relations and OH&S. Trish is a highly experienced HR practitioner who has worked across diverse industries including: energy, stevedoring, financial services, not for profit, hospitality and wine.
“I’ve found the most positive feedback we receive from new employees is when senior managers have come into the induction and given an overview of their area, their line of business or department” says Trish. “They do not need to be the most polished speakers. However they do tend to have impact as most speak about their area with passion.”
So why does this work from an attachment point of view? Critical drivers to employee attachment include effective orientation, the central messages an employee receives, the visibility of senior leadership and the personal vision and career path the new employee perceives. With senior people in induction, in a practical sense it means that the new employee:
- has seen connection with what they do and where that fits with the rest of the organisation
- has understood that real career paths exist, if the presenter has moved up or around the organisation
- will know whom they may speak to if they need to make contact with a particular area
- will feel welcome and important, that senior people have actually made the effort to take time out of a busy schedule to welcome them
- better understand the mission, vision and values of an organisation
Trish also says that she has found induction more challenging in large organizations, where sheer complexity make it difficult to cover the organization in a meaningful way for a new employee to be able to relate what they hear back to how they contribute. She also acknowledges it is more difficult for a HR Manager to have influence as the business managers often view managing the recruitment as the domain of HR. Beyond that however, they see the new hire as “belonging to the business.”
When the business has snapped up a new hire and said “thank God they’re here” Trish has these tips for HR Managers who work with a business focused on getting the most out of the new hire straight away.
Some pre-planning for communication works well says Trish, particularly if there has been a very long lead time in taking someone on. Also if you are bringing on large numbers, factor in induction time and make it before the official start date “When a person starts in the business it is hard to actually pull up and say – we need them back to do a proper induction” says Trish. “In operational environments such as hospitality there needs to be an immediate induction as you will not get them back again.”
Trish suggests to communicate the importance of orientation and the cost of not inducting properly in a way the business understands. Do not however, assume that the business managers all relate to the same message. Showing people the dollar impact of losing a new hire may work well in industries who understand the language of numbers. Bankers and financers may understand the return on investment point. For example: if you want to justify some extra spend in training on someone’s induction, you could say: “is it worthwhile letting go $70K worth of investment for the sake of spending $10K?” Other people within the business respond to the feel good factor or empathy, so you could say: “when you started your last role, how did you feel?”
Trish also suggests that one of the biggest mistakes anyone can make, when they look at the way people respond to the stresses of starting a new role, is to make assumptions about the meaning of particular behaviour. “Do not assume people will respond like you do given a specific situation.”
Here at Team Attachment we know that in any situation where people are beginning a role, the immediate manager has the greatest influence on attachment perceptions of their new employees. Ensuring managers have a common understanding and a common message which is in line with the organisation is critical to achieving high levels of attachment. We can’t stress this enough. You will never know what is truly important to your employee’s attachment unless you measure it objectively.
We’re keen to hear your thoughts on what you can do to improve the induction process. Please feel free to comment below.