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First impressions count: how to create induction training that works

This post was written by Kath Fleet and first appeared on the Epic Blog on 16th September 2013.

induction trainingAccording to occupational psychologist and emotional intelligence expert Daniel Goleman, research has shown that “in the first few milliseconds of our perceiving something we not only unconsciously comprehend what it is, but decide whether we like it or not.” This cognitive unconscious is what perceives, and forms, our first impressions.

A few milliseconds aren’t long to make a first impression! But, as the saying goes, first impressions tend to be long-lasting. In fact, they tend to be true in so far as the thought and effort you put into your induction activities will generally be indicative of your overall investment in people. Your staff induction is your chance to make your first impression. It needs to be good, but it also needs to live up to its promises.

Why is it so important for your induction training to impress?

A good induction programme is one that makes an employee feel that welcome and that they belong, and that their contribution will be valued. It gives them clear expectations of performance and reward, signposts sources of support and, last but certainly by no means least, demonstrates clear vision and leadership.

The reason why these elements make for a good induction is because they are the very ingredients that make for a good, productive and content working life. It’s not rocket science, yet it is often overlooked.

Induction isn’t just the first step in an employee’s career with you, it’s also the first organisational promise that, if followed through in everyday experience, leads to low turnover and high staff retention, attracting the best talent and gaining a great reputation for being an employer of choice.

But it isn’t a one-way street. You also expect to gain the commitment of new starters to your beliefs, values and standards. Far more important than communicating statistics and policies is the importance of winning their hearts and minds.

If new starters feel that they belong and if they have pride in what it means to join your organisation, then they are far more likely to believe in, and to behave in line with, the values of your company. ‘Belonging, believing and behaving’ is not only the mantra for good induction and good staff retention, it’s also the formula for a content, productive and lucrative workforce.

E-learning and induction: the perfect match

E-learning can play a pivotal role in creating your first impressions. It can be completed pre-start date to prepare the learner for their first day and help them to hit the ground running. It supports the idea of induction being a process rather than an event because it is always available and can be self-paced by the learner. It can also be used as a refresher or performance support tool in an ongoing sense.

E-learning is ideal for:

  • Creating a feeling of being valued as an individual: Personalisation tools such as role filters enable learners to tailor the induction experience to their own needs and career aspirations. Colleague ‘vox pops’ can also demonstrate that all voices have equal value in the organisation.
  • Creating a sense of pride in the organisation: Personal introductions from key figures in the company, trailblazing events in the company’s history and customer testimonials can all be used to welcome the learner to an strong, high-performing team.
  • Putting the customer at the heart of what you do: Realistic scenarios that help the learner to practice customer interactions before they hit the front line. These can be, focused around external clients or internal clients (colleagues and team workers) depending on their role and the nature of your business.
  • Getting up to speed quickly: FAQs are a great way to orientate a new starter and to answer the most common queries they have. Links to key sections of policy and employment handbooks also help the learner to quickly find what they need.
  • Mapping to your wider induction programme: Your induction is unlikely to exist in one place at one time. Providing a roadmap of the new starter’s induction helps learners to see at a glance what is expected of them by the end of day one, week one, month one, month two and month three, etc.
  • Supporting ongoing professional development: Diagnostic and action planning tools can encourage learners to think long term and see a clear career path with you by making commitments to development objectives which can be discussed at their probationary and interim reviews with their Line Manager.

For more insights into induction strategies that work, see our guide on how to use e-learning to improve your induction.