Employee induction: The difference between average and awesome

I’ve been to three inductions in the past three years.

Lonely Planet, the Department of Justice and now Deloitte.

Three vastly different organisations.

How do they induct employees into their “way”?

Initiation ritual of boys in Malawi/Flickr

There’s the usual stuff to cover – HR, IT, how to turn the computer on – and then there’s the informal element, just as vital – meeting the other new kids on the block, the lingo to catch on and whether you should wear Nike Air Max’s into the office on Fridays.

What makes a really good induction?  Here’s some of the best bits from my experiences at three very different companies…

So, did you make any new friends today?

Just like the first day of school, the people you meet on your first day at work can often become your work BFFs through the commonality of being the new kids on the block.

Aside from your name badge, how can organisations leverage this organic ‘first day friends’ network? Give them the tools they need to continue those relationships, and tell them about it.

Yammer is a great way to keep employees – who may not work directly – in touch with one another. If your company is using it, give it a good plug at induction so newbies know where to find it, and how to use it to their advantage.

Interested in Yammer? –> Ross Hill writes a good article on Yammer’s use at Deloitte here.

Death by powerpoint!

1980s: fashion was good, technology was not.

Powerpoint presentations, how retro.

If an employee’s first day entails a powerpoint presentation, (particularly if it’s an excel spreadsheet of your annual profits on the wall – I’ve been told of at least one org that does this), you will project your company back to 1987 in the minds of your new recruits.

Multimedia presentations are the visual clues you put out about the technological state of a company.

Admittedly, sometimes you can’t escape the PPT. In this case, go for Ignite-style: 5 minutes, 20 slides, auto-advancing every 15 seconds .

The Department of Justice use Ignite for inductions, and also run regular ‘Lunch n Learn’ sessions where anyone is invited to get up on the soapbox for five minutes and rant to the tune of an auto-advancing, 5 minute preso. Exciting, engaging, and a great way to ingest information.  You can fit a lot into 300 seconds.

And if you’re going to show a video, please, make it a slick one.

Deloitte’s videos painted an exciting vision of the future, and how you were expected to play a part in them.

Would you be excited to work here?

How do you feel about working for Giam?

While these videos were created for external use, the internal ones used at induction had a similar style.  Exciting, humorous, except on the big issue stuff, which adds weight where it is most needed

Walk a mile in my shoes.

Want employees to really understand what an organisation is about?

All Lonely Planet employees are expected to spend a day as an author – the heart of the Lonely Planet product.

In the case of Lonely Planet, newbies literally walk in the author’s shoes.  As part of the induction process, employees receive a passport booklet to go and research a local destination. Be an author for the day. Write up some reviews. No matter if  you’re going to be balancing Lonely Planet’s ledgers 9-5, every employee is encouraged to experience the business from the perspective of an author – the core of the Lonely Planet business.  For me, the experience was not only fun, but invaluable; I instantly grasped what the company was producing from the inside out; the role of the authors, the company values and how I fit in to the organisational puzzle.

Then, let them eat cake!

Thankfully I’m not the only fat kid in the room. When I put a call out to the twitterverse about what makes “an awesome induction,” the most popular response was “chocolate”.   Apparently Cadbury’s put on a good spread for newcomers.

Employee inductions set out to achieve two things: help you decipher the written and unwritten lay of the land.  At the end of the day, you want to walk away feeling excited about your future. So give them something to be excited about – a slick presentation, a new accessible network of friends, a literal experience and some sweet treats –  easy ways to get your new colleagues fired up.

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”
– Antoine de Saint-Exupery –

What do you think? Is there a way to do this better?

Thanks to Murray Galbraith, Cheryl Lin and Paul Storey for their insights.
Originally posted on TheInsideOutBlog.com

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