When a new member of staff starts in your yard, or with your team, do you use a staff induction program?
A good induction can increase staff retention; reduce the time needed for a new staff member to settle into the workplace and generally make for a happier work force. As a recruiter, I do my best to source suitable members of staff, but it is then up to the employer to ensure they induct and manage that member of staff correctly once they are in the workplace.
Common complaints about induction processes include being bored, being overwhelmed by too much information or new starters just being left to their own devices. I have put together my tips for what makes a good induction process to ensure that your new employee feels welcomed, informed, and positive about their decision to join your team!
When your new employee starts with you ensure you sit down with them and go through all the essential procedures, including: health and safety, first aid, fire procedures, pay, absence reporting, time off requests, policies on grievance and discipline, plus any forms that need to be completed including a Contract of Employment (which is a legal requirement).
If you haven’t yet got these processes formalised, then do so. As an employer, it is essential you have plans and procedures for all of these elements – for the safety of yourself, your staff and the horses. If you’re unsure on where to start, contact the British Grooms Association and they will be able to help. The ‘Employers Zone’ online portal contains all the information you will need – https://britishgrooms.org.uk/employers-zone
Plan, not just the first day, but also the first week!
Setting out roughly what your new employee is going to be doing throughout their first week will help set expectations but will also allow the employee to ask any questions that may help them prepare for this work.
The induction process should be clearly structured and well thought through, but allow flexibility if something has to change at the last moment. Think about the type of experience you are trying to achieve for your new starter. Try to roughly plan their first day, week and month – so that after the first four weeks, you are sure they have the tools and information they need to be capable in the role!
No-one is a mind reader
We all know there are plenty of transferable skills yard-to-yard, job-to-job. However, we also know everyone does things slightly differently. Even if your new employee is an experienced groom or rider, they are not mind readers! Ensure you go through processes and procedures slowly and clearly within their first few days in the job. In addition, expect mistakes and for them to initially do things differently. Rather than being overly critical and creating a problem, sit down calmly with your new starter and talk them through how and why you do things as you do. Be open to new ideas and suggestions – you never know, there might be a better way to operate than you think!
Time and time again, this is an essential element that is neglected by a number of equestrian employers. Training is essential for any new starter – no matter how experienced they are. Time spent training someone is a great opportunity to get to know them, find out their strengths and weaknesses and build a positive working relationship with them. A feeling of progression within a role can be a huge positive motivator – so find out what your new employee would like to learn, or identify the areas they can improve on and away you go!
A special welcome
It’s often nice to schedule a team lunch or dinner in the first week of a new starter’s employment. Time spent with your team together in an informal environment allows the new employee to get to know their co-workers better and is also something your current staff can look forward to!
Prepare your staff
Your current staff can have a huge impact on how well a new starter settles in. Therefore, it is important to put just as much time into preparing the current staff for the new arrival as it is with your new starter. If possible, schedule time in the first week where the new starter will be working one-to-one with your other team members. If you are taking on a junior member of staff, involve your other staff in the training and development of that new team member. If they are well prepared they will not only provide a better induction but also having a team ready to welcome someone new is preferable to a team that is surprised by someone new turning up!
As a manager and team leader, remain accessible to your new starter. Encourage them to ask questions and schedule regular meetings to demonstrate your interest in their progress and give them an opportunity to air any concerns. Regular one-to-one’s, along with structured team meetings allow open lines of communication between yourself and your staff, resulting in a more positive and harmonious working environment!