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Inductions: getting off on the right foot

29 April 2005 by
Inductions: getting off on the right foot

When your new member of staff turns up for their first day at work, you both have separate agendas. They want to get through the shift without making a complete idiot of themselves and you want to them to become as effective as possible in the shortest space of time.

A fully thought-out induction procedure is an extremely helpful, if not essential, way of helping you both towards those goals. You will know they've been given all the right information, and they won't feel like they've been thrown in at the deep end.

It will also help you identify what, if any, training your new recruit needs and to set out goals and objectives for you to measure after a few months.

Where should I start?
Simple, start the moment the new guy walks in the door.

  • The first day is the worst for them and you should begin by welcoming them yourself when they arrive. If you interviewed them then they'll be relieved to see a face they know.
  • Give them a tour, even if you did one when they came for an interview. It'll help them relax and you can get them chatting.
  • Point out all the staff amenities, toilets, cloakrooms, where they have lunch, smoking room etc.
  • Run through the most important health & safety rules, fire drills and security arrangements.
  • Show them exactly where they'll be working, introduce them to whoever is sitting near them and maybe suggest they go for lunch together.
  • Make sure you have all their important details recorded correctly. Name, address, contact numbers, bank details, any health problems you should know about etc.
  • Give them a full job description.

OK, that's the first day, what's next?
Once the terror of the first day is past you can get down to business. It's a good idea to arrange some sort of "induction day" for every new employee within the first week or so. This can cover all the general information to help them fit in and make them more effective in less time.

An induction day should cover three main topics:

1. Know the company
It's important for the new recruit's own morale and work ethic for them to understand the company as a whole and know exactly where they fit into it.

Many companies produce written literature for new employees explaining these things. A well-produced company handbook can be an invaluable reference for a new employee if it contains phone numbers, organisation charts, who's responsible for what etc. It will also save you time if they don't need to ask you every time they need to know the name of the head chef or the number for housekeeping.

It will also be useful for you to provide a new employee with information on rack rates, menus, anything that your company "sells". Even if they're the potwasher, explaining the menu to them will help them understand what you do and make them feel part of a team.

2. Know your bit of the company
There is a whole list of fiddly bits of information that will be specific to the department or section that the new employee will work in. As much as it's important to know what other departments do, a chef doesn't need to know how the housekeeping rota is calculated.

Make sure you have a comprehensive list of these things, ask other members of staff for their input so you can cover everything in one go. Here are a few of the most common examples:

  • Hours of work
  • Shift patterns and rotas
  • Payment dates
  • Claiming expenses
  • Getting supplies
  • Phone calls
  • Post
  • Booking holidays
  • Absence

3. Don't kill yourself
Health & safety is an important issue in any business but in hospitality, where there are plenty of opportunities for trips, falls and burns, it is imperative that a new employee understands your company's procedures.

Health & safety should be covered in a company handbook but you it's best to go through things in person.

  • How do you report an accident?
  • What should they do if there's a fire?
  • Who is the fire officer?
  • Who's trained in first aid?

There is obviously formal training in health & safety and it's advisable to put all your staff through this on a regular basis.

How can I make sure they learn their job quickly and effectively?
Training is the key here. Just giving someone ten minutes supervision and then leaving them to get on with it is bound to end in disaster. If there's a specific piece of equipment that they will have to use for their job, such as a switchboard or property management system and they are unfamiliar with it, then it's worth taking enough time to make sure they can work it properly.

You should highlight in the first few days if they need extra formal training in computers.

It may be useful to appoint a mentor for any new person. Somebody they can ask questions, who can show them round and introduce them to others. This is a very useful way of bringing new people into a team and can be done as formally or informally as required.

How do I know the induction has gone well?
It's important that you check up on any new people as they progress through their first few months. Within the induction process you should explain to them what their goals are for the first, say, three months and how you are going to measure their performance. Then set a date where you can both sit down and review how it's going.

Any final advice?
Much of the induction process involves throwing a lot of information at the new employee and they can't be expected to remember it all. There'll always be things they're not sure of and you need to let them know that you, or someone, is always available and happy to help them.

Often, a quick "how are you getting on?" can be the most important thing.

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