Our research suggests 77 per cent GCC organisations claim to have a formal induction programme. However, in our experience few new employees experience the ‘wow’ factor during induction while many employers would like to see a renewed experience for their new hires.
Common problems that plague induction programmes include: administrative overload, induction activities set aside in favour of day-to-day business by managers, ‘HR induction’ disconnected from ‘business induction’, and irrelevant or uninteresting induction activities.
So how can employers leverage a new hire’s enthusiasm and energy to make induction a memorable and valuable experience?
Managing admin overload
In the first few days, would you rather new hires spend their time chasing certificates and filling in forms? Clearly not, but that is what many new hires experience. Admin requirements may be especially onerous for expats and may delay their settling in or even the start date.
Technology and a bit of planning go a long way to preventing administrative overload. IT applications can help employers ‘on-board’ new hires in advance of the first day — compiling data and documentation that enable preparation of the employee’s access card, email address and other IT, work equipment and signing up to benefits.
Mobility service providers can also assist with ensuring that an expat employee prepares all the necessary documentation before making their move abroad. Providing a simple briefing and administrative checklist in advance goes a long way to making an employee’s first days enjoyable and productive.
Nurturing a sense of belonging
In the first days, colleagues help new employees practically (by alerting them to organizational practices) and intangibly (particularly, by being role models). Our research indicates that on average, 12 per cent of nationals leave in the first three months, but by nurturing a strong and supportive community for new employees, the organisation reduces the risk of premature attrition, an expensive and demoralising outcome for both employer and employee.
In the Middle East, the challenges for belonging can be different for expat and local employees. Local employees may already have acquaintances in their new company. The risk is that they feel comfortable with their current network and fail to make new connections.
Expats are less likely to have a network and without some support it may take longer to develop a good pool of contacts.
The most important relationships of the new hire are those with their manager and their team. Some managers conduct a thorough introduction for their team, provide opportunities for socialisation and spend time coaching the new hire.
However, often HR ‘hands over’ the new hire, while busy managers make little time for coaching, offering few guidelines and resources to create a positive experience.
Leaders are key to nurturing a new employee’s sense of belonging. It’s common for induction to be spent going through rules and procedures. But how much more engaging would it be if leaders spent time with new employees, explaining the choices they make and the values that guide them?
Value from Day One
Induction is the right time for a new employee to understand the company’s strategy, policies and processes — and for the employer to start tapping into the employee’s value. Learning through experience trumps countless presentations, piles of documents and hours of online training.
However, induction is more likely to be a bombardment of the latter.
Companies that want to tap value from day one provide the settings for effective learning and performance through a variety of planned activities. For example, instead of just organising a process walk-through, a new employee may be presented with a challenge to improve it.
They are given access to co-workers, customers, leaders and managers right from the start. And most importantly, the new employee is given a platform to showcase their skills and establish themselves.
While many companies say they value ‘learning on the job’, new employees often find that they are thrown in at the deep end with little structure or idea of what they’re meant to achieve. Instead of tapping into value, companies risk losing all the enthusiasm and energy that a new employee brings in those first few weeks.
A word of caution about performance objectives during induction: objectives should only be put in place once the employee is familiar with the role and the company, usually around two to three months into their employment. Once an employee understands their role, they can engage properly with the objective-setting process and performance is more likely to follow.
The induction period soon gives way to everyday working life, and this is where the ideals presented at induction need to dovetail with the reality. No vision and values training will sustain your new hires’ energy and performance if there is no match between what’s said and what’s done.
By Dr. Markus Wiesner
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