The Link Between Induction and Employee Engagement
If induction is done properly, the whole organisation can benefit from highly motivated employees.
Despite overwhelming evidence that proper Induction procedures increase levels of employee engagement and retention, only one fifth of organisations undertaking specific retention initiatives are taking steps to improve their induction process as they do not rate this as an effective retention solution. (CIPD Resource and Talent Planning Survey 2017).
Employees are most likely to be highly engaged during their probation period with many companies reporting the highest levels of employee engagement within their first three months of employment. However, even with this in mind, my most recent group of CIPD students told me that in order to comply with nationalisation figures, very often an employee will get signed off to permanent status within an organisation despite demonstrating low levels of engagement in the hope that these will rise after their Induction/Probation period.
The reality is that they almost never do which reminds me of a saying one of my first managers used to tell me: “Recruit in haste, repent at leisure”. Too often a ‘best of the bad bunch’ recruitment strategy is deployed out of fear of not meeting nationalisation targets or having a recruitment freeze put on the vacancy if it is not filled within a certain time frame. Not only does this have a direct effect on the new employee, but these companies also experience higher levels of disengagement from their existing staff who do not want to carry the new dead weight on the team. Managers are often tested to the limit trying to re-engage their staff whilst at the same time trying to make the new starter feel welcome and accepted.
If induction is done properly, and the correct assessment methods are used to monitor and evaluate new starters, then the whole company can benefit by highly motivated employees who are more than willing to ‘go the extra mile’ and demonstrate the positive effects of corporate citizenship. The company gets a ‘fit for purpose’ employee and can begin its talent pooling or succession planning along with forecasting its L&D requirements much earlier on with highly engaged employees.
Whilst the aim of a well put together induction process is to increase employee engagement, there can often be a misalignment of job expectation post induction course that erodes engagement over time. Fifteen years ago, I redesigned my own organisation’s induction course to make it more relevant and significantly more exciting as research showed me that our company was suffering unusually high levels of staff turnover even for a sales-based organisation. This was due to a number of factors.
Firstly, managers did not plan their recruitment strategy in line with induction course timings, which lead to a highly motivated and engaged employee starting up to 6 weeks prior to an induction course being run and having to learn on the fly or wait until they could be inducted properly into the organisation. Many left. Secondly, the actual induction course was not particularly inspiring. Nothing had been done to it for over 10 years and much of the content was dated with a tired look and feel. Another reason for many fresh graduates to look for employment elsewhere is the gap between expectation and reality.
Overhauling the entire induction course to include a far more facilitated and interactive approach rather than the traditional ‘broadcast’ approach, where new starters are bombarded with information, greatly increased their feeling of being valued. After running an engagement survey, we were happy to report that engagement levels had gone up by over 15% in the first three months alone and after the first year, our retention rate had increased by almost 50% saving the company significant recruitment and training costs.
If companies are to pay more than lip service to the concept of employee engagement it must start right at the beginning of the employee life cycle to create enriched, enabled and engaged employees who are more brand loyal and significantly more productive than their unengaged counterparts.
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