It’s never too soon to learn.  These words should form part of the mantra which hangs in every HR department, and not just because it reflects one of the prime functions of an effective HR team, namely nurturing the continuing development of employee knowledge and ability.  But the saying is also a reminder that the culture of the organisation and engagement with that culture starts from the very first interactions between a company and its employees.

In the previous article I looked at the way in which HR can influence culture and engagement at the very start of the recruitment process.  Now it is time to move on, to look at the interview itself and the way in which employees are inducted into the organisation. 

Search the internet for organisational culture and it is a fair bet that you will quickly come across an article advising prospective employees how to check out the culture before signing up for the job.  And when you are concentrating on trying to find the right person for your organisation it can be all too easy to forget that whilst you are interviewing the candidate, the candidate is interviewing you in return.  They will be looking for effective and efficient communications and an open and engaging interview process but they will also be checking out the atmosphere in the office and amassing evidence about work/life balance, collaboration and a host of other factors.

This all means that if you want to employ the best, you need to have your organisational culture visible on display.  Of course, strong cultures will shine through naturally but if you are in the process of a cultural re-setting or if the office is in temporary crisis then be open and honest with candidates.  Hushing conflict up is the surest way of seeing that perfect match walk out of the door. 

Once you’ve found your perfect match, the really hard work starts.  Assuming that the job description, interview process and selection have gone well your new employee is well on the way to becoming engaged in the organisation so don’t fail now.  Follow up the interview as quickly as possible, make the job offer clear and inviting and keep all communications open and speedy.  Naturally you will have a formal induction process but how about arranging for an informal ‘get to know you’ chat first.  This is the perfect time to introduce a ‘work buddy’, someone who will be with the new employee and guide them through their first days and weeks with the organisation.

Most important of all, don’t let the joy of filling the work place get in the way of a full and thorough induction.  You’d think that in this era of employee engagement the ‘hi, here’s your desk, get on with it’ style of induction had vanished into the mists of time but it still surfaces in far too many instances.  Apart from learning the job itself as a minimum the top tips for an induction are as follows:

·         You want your employee to feel comfortable in the organisation so take time to show them around, introduce them to key players, give them access to an organisation chart and explain the company policy on communications

·         You want your employee to fully understand their place in the organisation so make sure they have a full brief not only about their own area of expertise but also about the entire organisation.  If possible, arrange for them to sit in with different departments so that they can better understand the inter-connectivity of the business and start to build contacts.

·         You want your employee to be engaged in the culture of the organisation so take time to share and to explain aims and values, beliefs and behaviours.

Get the process right and by the time your new employee sits down to their first piece of real work they are already well on their way to being a strong and positive advocate for the business.  Next time we’ll look at some of the other ways in which HR can influence the culture of an organisation including documenting expectations and monitoring employee welfare.