Words by
Caitlin Allwood

New year, new induction…

Is your induction process a true reflection of what it’s like to work for your hospitality operation? 

Truth be told, for some leaders, it can feel a bit like a box-ticking process you need to get through as quickly as possible with your new starter so they can get to grips with the role and start adding value. And with most businesses struggling for staff this is especially true at the moment. 

But we’ve all been that person on the receiving end of uninspiring inductions, haven’t we? And I’m sure we’ve all worked somewhere where there wasn’t any sort of induction at all. I’m thinking “here’s the fire exit, here’s the till, here’s your apron, now let’s get you started.” 

Oh, dear…

“here’s the fire exit, here’s the till, here’s your apron, now let’s get you started.”

Imagine you’re headed to your new place of work, motivated and eager to meet your new colleagues and familiarise yourself with your new job then this is what you are met with. You’d start to wonder “have I made the right decision coming to work here?”.

As we mentioned in our previous article, Onboarding, planning out thoughtful onboarding, and doing a high-quality induction will make a huge difference to the likelihood of your new starter sticking around. That first impression is key!

So, what’s the difference between induction and onboarding? Well, an induction is introducing the person to your business, it’s a programme of what’s to be expected and should last months. Onboarding is the process that you put in place to welcome your new employees into the business. It’s vital in helping “bed-in” your new employee and ensuring they are comfortable and able to do their job. 

Now, where to start?

Firstly, put together an induction plan and checklist. 

You can use a template, but there’s no use putting someone who’s new to the sector through the same induction as a seasoned hospitality professional. When planning out someone’s induction, ask yourself what’s relevant to them and tweak your template. This approach will mean the induction will almost be tailor-made, helping them to feel really invested. 

Think long-term.

The induction process doesn’t start and end on day one. You should have a plan for day one, week one, month one and the end of the probationary period. Layout targets, and incentives for the future so your new employee can start to envisage their future in the company

What are the dos and don’ts of an induction?

Don’t leave inducting your recruit until day one

Paperwork and online learning aren’t the most thrilling but they are important. The key is to break it up. Rather than saturating a newbie with form-filling, get this over to them before their first day along with their employee handbook. Not only is this one less thing to tick off on their first day, but it helps answer any questions they might have before they start. They can also (if they are happy to) get some e-learning completed before day one, here’s another idea: pay them for their time! 

Don’t leave it until day one to introduce the culture

Know your company culture and showcase this at every opportunity, from your job adverts, your interview, trial shift, your company handbook and how you go about delivering all that information. Is your company handbook really corporate when your business is very informal? Try to make sure it’s all in sync so they get a true taste of what to expect.

Do give them some company swag

Give them a branded tote, a high-quality diary/notebook, a wine opener or branded sharpie for chefs, something to help them feel invested.

Do tell your new starter their plan

Give them plenty of notice about their rota (2 weeks in advance should be minimum practice) and explain what that first day and week is going to look like. Try to anticipate their questions and concerns, and put them at ease by telling them what to expect; what time should they start? What entrance should they use? What should they take with them? Who will they meet? Etc. If your new starter is going to be pretty hands-on from day one, tell them this and why. It’s a risky strategy to throw someone in at the deep end, and contrary to what some might say, it is not character building!

Do stick to your induction plan

Don’t let your new starter down by reneging on your promises. It can be incredibly unsettling for someone to have their expectations crushed because the business is unexpectedly busy and so instead of being trained they are suddenly being counted as a “full-body”. However, your new recruit copes, going back on promises is never a good look and that time you put into your induction plan will be wasted. Can’t commit to the induction? Reschedule their start day or time. Make it happen. 

Don’t be rigid

Not a contradiction, there are some things you must stick to, but leave room in your induction plan later down the line for flexibility. Some people might need more or less support than others, keep it unique to that person so they feel motivated. You want your recruit to not feel like they are tasks above their pay grade but also they must be challenged, no one wants their role to be mundane.

Don’t make assumptions

Make sure your new employee feels heard by holding regular informal chats with them to find out how they’re settling in. Kick this off on day one, end of week one, end of month one, and after their probationary period. Allow them to tell you what’s going well and what could be improved.

Do induct people who already work for you who are moving into new roles

It’s a different kind of induction, but those who are already working for you but have perhaps been promoted still need to be given support. You’d be surprised at how many people we speak to who were with an employer for years until they moved into a new role and then felt unsupported and taken for granted. 

Do prepare

Make sure you are prepared for your new employee’s arrival. Tell your team to expect the newbie, get it on the rota, tell them to be prepared to give the person a big welcome. It’s the worst feeling starting in a new place of work only to be met with a sea of blank faces who weren’t expecting you. Remember, YOU are trying to make the best first impression on new members of the team as well the other way around!

Do ask for feedback

Make a point of asking employees how they felt their induction was and use that feedback to supercharge your future induction and onboarding.

Do give your new starter a buddy

But, and this is a big but, make sure it’s someone who lives and breathes your culture and is a good representation of the way things are. This doesn’t need to be the employee who’s been there for years and knows the order of service like the back of their hand – sometimes this is the wrong person! 

Don’t count your new person as a full member of the team in the first week

Doing this will undo any good work you’ve done previously. Communication is key here. For any reason, your new team member has to take on additional responsibilities early on, be completely transparent and explain to them why before they start what you are asking of them. 

We hope we’ve provided you with some tools to enable you to recharge your company Onboarding and Induction. These important first steps will drastically improve your staff retention. Remember what we said in our Onboarding article; if you’ve left it until day one, it’s too late, so start looking at what these processes are in your business now. 

At the end of this month at our Catering Hospitality Education Forum (C.H.E.F), our headline speaker will be Paul Spencer, Director of Operations at Locke Hotels. He will be providing us with the tools needed to Build Culture within your hospitality business so we’ll be following up with an article here to share these insights with you.

As always good luck!

Related articles

View all posts