Category Archives: onboarding

New Pope! But What About His Induction Procedure?

The Catholic church has just announced the name of the new Pope, Pope Francis.  As he starts in his new job perhaps consideration might be given to providing him with a good induction procedure so that he can familiarise himself with his new workplace using a variety of methods.  

Induction is an important process following on from recruitment and needs to be effective to avoid the “induction crisis” which is where employees do not feel comfortable with their new surroundings and decide to leave which incurs another recruitment cost for the organisation.   In recent years the term “onboarding” has crept into the language of HR and is a US term for the induction process.  


The length of the induction period and methods used to provide information to the new employee will vary depending on the size and nature of the organisation and the role.  However it is really important that all organisations have a well thought out induction programme.  This may need to be tailored for certain members of staff, however, eg promoted staff – such as Pope Francis, graduate trainees, senior appointments, technical specialists, temporary staff, job sharers etc.
Without a good induction programme certain problems may arise – poor integration into team, low morale, loss of productivity, failure to reach potential none of which are acceptable and damaging to the business.
Various members of staff could be involved in the process.  The line manager is very important as they will manage the employee on a day to day basis.  An HR representative, if appropriate, could ensure that certain admin duties are performed eg bank details are collected and the employee knows what to expect from induction.  The health and safety officer may explain health and safety issues appropriate to the workplace.  With large organisations often senior management do a presentation to groups of new starters on the organisation, its history, mission, values and structure. The training officer will outline any training activities that will take place.  There may be union representatives that meet with the new employee if the organisation is unionised.  Also there could be a “buddy”, an existing employee, who is assigned to provide the new employee with informal information about the company to help them settle in. 
A good induction programme contains the following elements:
  • a clear outline of the job/rolerequirements


  • explanation of terms and conditions



  • orientation (physical) – describing where the facilities are



  • orientation (organisational) – showing how the employee fits into the team and how their role fits with the organisation’s strategy and goals



  • an awareness of other functions within the organisation, and how the employee fits within that



  • meeting with key senior employees (either face to face or through the use of technology)



  • health and safety information – this is a legal requirement



  • details of the organisation’s history, its culture and values, and its products and services. 


The process should be conducted gradually  over a reasonable period of time trying to avoid “information overload”.

Ideally there should be an induction checklist drawn up that covers all the areas that a new employee needs to know about indicating which staff member will be responsible for each area.  It can then be signed off once each area is completed then held on the employee’s personnel file. 

Hopefully, the new Pope will quickly settle into his new role with a well thought through induction procedure.

The Jargon Filled World of HR. Does It Add To HR’s Professional Credibility?

I have worked in HR since the mid 1990s and over the years have watched whilst the HR environment has become engulfed with jargon.  Developments began in the 1990s where the term HR overtook the term personnel and came from the States.  From the mid 1990s it seems the flood gates for HR jargon were opened. 
The pure and simple role of HR Manager that used to mean approaching one individual for support with people management has, in general, become, in many large organisations, HR Business Partner, a role that sits within a framework alongside various generalists and specialists who are approached for support where the need lies.  If you have a problem with a disciplinary situation you talk to the Employee Relations Manager, if you want to discuss pay and benefits you need to discuss this with the Employee Reward Manager rather than your HR advisor.  Where has the simplicity gone? 

Diversity has become the term for what once was equal opportunities.  Equal opportunities looked at various pigeon-holed individuals eg disabled or coloured to ensure they had equality in all areas of employment.  Diversity, however, is about valuing differences and uniqueness and being tolerant.  It does not focus on individuals but values everyone for who they are.  Nevertheless discrimination in all its now extended forms is still rife in the UK demonstrated by employment tribunal statistics so what does that say about this development? 

Employee engagement has become a hot topic.  This is all about catching the imagination of employees so they love working for a company, work harder and ultimately increase profits.  This tends to be linked with employee recognition which is deemed to be a communication tool that reinforces and rewards the most important outcomes people create for your business. Employees, therefore, rather than just receiving informal praise for a job well done are now encouraged to perform  for formal customised employee reward perks.  The aim is that these processes make people feel valued, reduce turnover, increase employee empowerment  and improve company culture.  Surely an employee is paid to do a good job so surely that is just reward anyway? 

Knowledge management is a range of strategies and practices used in a company to identify, create, represent, distribute and enable adoption of ideas and experiences.  Informal teaching/sharing processes that have always gone.  They have now been replaced by a formalised process where knowledge is captured via the management of competencies,  best practice transfers and cross project learning, all of which are formally spread throughout an organisation to the benefit of all.  Simple eh?  

Talent management  refers to the skills of attracting highly skilled workers, of integrating new workers, and developing and retaining current workers to meet current and future business objectives.   What happened to good old fashioned recruitment and employee retention?

Even the term recruitment has become resourcing.  

Just lately I have seen the terms onboarding and orienteering being banded around, terms from the States.  Orienteering in the UK used to just mean “anoutdoor adventure sport which involves walking or running whilst navigating around a course using a detailed map and sometimes a compass”.  Onboarding to me has nautical connotations and has nothing to do with employment.  Why have these somewhat ridiculous terms started to replace the good old fashioned term of induction which is the process of formally guiding and introducing a new employee to people and processes in an organisation?  

Instead of redundancy the terms downsizing or rightsizing are increasingly used.

Mergers and acquistions are known as TUPE transfers relating to the law The Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (a legal mouthful in itself), which governs the transfer of employees from one company to another. 
The list could go on.

HR has a hard enough job being understood anyway in the business world so why make things even more difficult?  Instead of making HR seem to be “with it” in business aiming to exert an influence on proceedings, HR seems ever more out of touch.  How can HR be taken seriously if they cannot communicate in every day language?

I am a fan of good old fashioned plain English.  When I provide advice on HR and employment matters I use clear practical language so my clients understand what they need to do.  No-one has ever said to me “can you explain that more clearly or “I don’t know what you are talking about”. 

So, in conclusion, although I am sure the jargon attached to HR processes will continue to develop, I personally do not believe it does anything to add to HR’s professional credibility and if you want clear, practical jargon-free HR advice just give me a call.