Welcome to life!

In my role of L&D, one of the things I’m always keen to ensure we’re getting right is how we help the business understand itself. Not just itself, but also the consequence of actions taken on the business, and how we might make better business decisions.  Yes, I’m talking about business acumen. The thing is when you try and break that down, it’s a really hard thing to create L&D initiatives around.

I’m going to do a short series on how we might develop this very important skill in organisations, and what we can do to support the business enabling decision making to be better. Gosh that last sentence had a lot of horrid business speak, but sometimes needs must.

I think the first step in handling this topic is to have a well developed set of opportunities for your new starters. They are the ones who are being recruited into the business to bring about something different and or new, and is vital they receive the right kind of introduction.

The ‘hygiene’ stuff has to be in place. That is, give them a station to work from, the right tools, a line manager, probation objectives, set up on payroll, and all that kind of stuff. We’re talking onboarding, so let’s get it right.

The things that start to make the difference are what happens around all of the day to day tasks. Have you got a developed plan for them which shows them what they can expect to learn, who from, when, within their first six months? This provides security to both the new starter and the line manager in setting clear expectations for what will be achieved.

They may have a distinct role within the business, but this doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be exposed to everything the business does. Get them meeting people in other departments. Shadowing for a day can be highly insightful. One to one meetings are great way to nurture relationships. Is there information they can access in their spare time on wikis or e-learning modules that have been created?

Those of you who follow me on Twitter will know I’m proud of our company Induction at LBi. It’s consistently one of the best learning events we deliver to our new starters. A number of things have come together to make this happen. The Exec, Senior Leadership Team and Department Heads all see the benefit in being personally involved. The insight they bring when delivering their presentations is highly relevant and key to developing understanding of how the business operates. The day is mixed up with exercises that help the new starters think about how decisions impact the business through using case studies. We also focus a whole piece just on the culture of the company. Not a presentation, but a workshop piece which works better than selling how great we are to work for.

I facilitate the whole day. Having someone present the whole day like this is absolutely key to the success of the day. People know who they can turn to, if the agenda needs changing what to do, if exercises need to happen, what to do when the technology goes tits up. Someone needs to be there to just get things done. More though, the facilitator gets a sense of the success of the day. Are people ok? Are they grumbling? Are they being fed enough? Do they need a break? Are they engaged?

Good things should also be happening on the Induction. Host a lunch, everyone appreciates a free lunch. Get people from the HR team to be part of that too. We are a social bunch, and there’s nothing like breaking down some barriers eh. Have fresh fruit available just because it’s a good thing to do! Give people plenty of opportunity to mingle and just chat. Doing the hard work is good, relaxing the brain during the day is good too. Celebrate the end of the Induction. We’re an agency, so this naturally involves alcohol. Whatever you choose to do, it helps to give a sense of, wow that was a long day, and we did a lot, and now we can enjoy the end of the day too, as opposed to being shuffled back to their desks.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. The company Induction is by far and above one of the key L&D activities, that I believe just has to take place. If there’s no other formal learning and development intervention in place, and you had to pick one to do, this is the one to pick and do. It doesn’t matter if it’s not monthly. But it has to be regular, and it has to be excellent.


Published by

Sukh Pabial

I'm an occupational psychologist by profession and am passionate about all things learning and development, creating holistic learning solutions and using positive psychology in the workforce.

7 thoughts on “Welcome to life!”

  1. Great post. It seems to be something that many teams leave to the more junior/less experienced members of a team who don’t necessarily recognise the impact a meaningful induction can proffer, and it seems to have become a dreaded HR chore. Really encouraging to see it framed like this.

    1. Well there is the standard day one induction which happens which covers the hygiene stuff.

      But the company Induction is far too important to be left with inexperienced or under-developed team members. We tried that and it just didn’t work well at all.

      I really enjoy the day and makes for a very energising and motivating experience.

  2. Nice post. Topic of induction close to my heart too. Before I migrated to HR from T&D I completed a project to relaunch our induction and onboarding of new starters. For all roles this involves a 100 day support with lots of activities to engage, develop and sometimes challenge the new starter.

    A project I am working on in my new role is to look at how we also apply similar principles to those returning to employment after some time away. As a working mum who took a period of time off to care for my child I am beyond passionate about how this is often a neglected area and one which can have huge consequences for the business and the employee. Returning to work after a period off like this can be very unsettling and daunting and consideration needs to be given to ensure this is a less stressful time. Quite often mums are looking forward to returning to working life and this enthusiasm can be stamped on by lack of thought from the employer on the impact this can have, Business moves at an unbelievable speed and often women returning to work don’t anticipate the level of change that will take place.

    Would love to hear others views on this also?


    1. Wow that’s something I’ve not considered before, but of course, the re-introduction of people who have been off work for some time is vital to their success.

      I’m unsure if the Induction format works for this purpose, but I don’t see why it shouldn’t when thinking about it. A lot can change in the time mothers (for example) are off, and attending the company induction would be the easiest way to re-familiarise with everything that’s going on in the business.

  3. Hi Sukh, thought I’d give some context to the relevant comment. My soon to be past employer is currently detangling itself from a large bank and is transforming from an ugly duckling in to a beautiful swan. It will take some time to leave bad habits behind but a new set of values have been created by employees, employer branding is much more vibrant and colourful and culture is high on the agenda. What does it feel like to work here, what do we want it to feel like…. etc and our inductions are the focus of some good debate at the moment. I agree they are one of the most important activities for L&D team and we have many inductions within our business, high volume and low voume – the high volume is easier as it’s planned and structured (usually groups 10+) and L&D ‘owned’, the low volume is a different kettle of fish and until recently was very ad-hoc and a mixed experience depending on which area of the business you join. There is now a structured 2 day induction but new joiners may not attend this until they’ve been with the company for weeks…there is still work to be done. The opportunity is there though now to create an induction that reflects our new values and culture that befits the organisation that we want to become. For me it’s a chance for L&D to shine and set the example, to role model the right behaviours and lead from the front – we can set the right tone and demonstrate what it means to work for our new organisation, to take pride in our work and support our new joiners in the best way possible. I think the challenge is getting this same ‘service’ following induction when L&D aren’t up at the front. Begs the question should culture drive induction or induction drive culture? I think there is a danger of delivering an induction that is disconnected from what it’s actually like to work in an organisation. I’ve shared your post with those leading the induction project 🙂

    1. How awesome that you’ve passed this on to your team, that’s very good of you to do so.

      There is a danger of giving a rosy picture of what the organisation is like, but equally we don’t want to demoralise our people into thinking life is bad. The criticism or cycnism people may have should be dealt with from the senior leaders presenting, as it’s their duty as ambassadors of the company to motivate and enthuse new starters.

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