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Staff Induction - why inductions matter

For early years settings, this is a legal requirement:

“Providers must ensure that all staff receive induction training to help them understand their roles and responsibilities” (Statutory Framework, 2017, p.21).

An effective induction program – or the lack of one – can make the difference between a new employee successfully integrating and leaving very quickly. Research shows that this can affect engagement, staff turnover and absenteeism levels, and the employer brand.

What makes an induction program successful?

Effective inductions are timely, organised and engaging, and give a good first impression of a setting / company. They inspire new starters, educate them about the setting / company's values and teach them the skills they need. If done well, the induction process will allow a new starter to lay the foundations for important relationships within his/her team (and across the wider organisation), and give him/ her best possible start in the setting.

Conversely, a poor induction program is either too full-on or not thought through properly. The most frequent complaints new starters make is that they're overwhelmed, bored, or left to "sink or swim." This can leave them feeling confused and make them less productive.

Planning an Induction

There are several important questions to ask when you are designing an induction program. These include:

•How experienced is your new starter? It's important to tailor your approach depending on who you're inducting, so that the program is fit for purpose.

•How formal do you want it to be? You may not need a rigid structure if your setting is small.

•What first impression do you want to give?

•What do new starters need to know about the work environment and policies?

•How can you introduce new starters to co-workers without overwhelming and intimidating them? How can you make sure that the right people are available, so new team members feel informed and valued?

•What do you need to provide them with (clothing, equipment, special instructions, and so on) so that they're ready to go from day one?

Create a Checklist

See example check-list below.

Statutory Requirements during induction:

  • “Induction training must include information about emergency evacuation procedures, safeguarding, child protection and health and safety issues” (Statutory Framework, 2017, p.21). Don't do it all at once, though. Intersperse housekeeping activities with other parts of the induction.
  • “Settings must not allow new staff whose suitability has not been DBS checked to have unsupervised contact with children being cared for” (Statutory Framework, 2017, p.19).

“Providers must support staff to undertake appropriate training and professional development opportunities” (Statutory Framework, 2017, p.21).

Pre-Start Day

When a candidate accepts a job, s/he may have to work several weeks' notice in the current role. So it's important that you, as the prospective manager, maintain contact and keep him / her engaged during this time. If you fail to do so, s/he could lose interest, change his / her mind, or – worse still – go to a competitor. The Pre-Start Day checklist, below, will give you some ideas about how you can keep in touch.

Send your new starter useful information in a welcome pack, so that s/he can find out about your setting at leisure. Give an overview of the setting (including mission, vision, values, and corporate culture), the department and the team

Ask him / her to complete a Training Needs Analysis document. This will highlight any skills gaps, so that you can incorporate appropriate training into your schedule.

Tell co-workers the start date, and schedule short one-on-one meetings with key team members. Inform new starter of these meetings.

Check that s/he's ready to start by sending a friendly email just before the first day. Give any necessary instructions such as parking and where to report to.

Other (shortened) types of induction

  • Return to work from long term sick leave, maternity leave etc.
  • Induction into a new job role within the setting i.e. promotion, designated role etc.
  • If you have a long-standing employee who started before the induction process was put into place, it is advisable to produce a shortened checklist as proof for Ofsted that this member of staff is up-to-date with all necessary information. Some of this may have been covered within staff meetings and supervisions.

References and further reading

MindTools - Successful Inductions

BusinessBalls - Induction Training and Checklist

ACAS - Settling in a new employee: A step-by-step guide

ACAS - Staff Induction

Statutory Framework for the early years foundation stage, 2017, DfE