Recruitment - Easing the first day nerves

Published on Tuesday, 19 June 2018
Last updated on Monday, 27 January 2020

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Bingo… you've successfully advertised and recruited a talented new team member to join your service, now comes the most important part of the process, retaining them.

We've all been there, starting a new job can be terrifying and stressful, no matter how well qualified you are for the position. First day nerves can make even the most capable people forget the simplest of instructions and make silly mistakes.

Anticipating and responding to this stress by conducting an organised, thoughtful and personalised induction is a truly effective way of quickly making new recruits feel at home as it empowers them with the knowledge necessary to do their job and fit into the team.

Induct, introduce and empower

Before your new recruit steps into the building have a think about what they need to make them feel welcome, equipped and empowered to do their job to the best of their ability. This may include organising a uniform, setting up HR systems, contacting IT support for an email address, cutting an extra key, sourcing a lanyard, arranging a locker, etc. Ensuring the infrastructure is in place to help a person ease in will increase the likelihood of them having a good first day and will minimise the amount of time spent on this basic admin.

A formal induction program is an important and expected component of the first day ritual. The formal induction should include a tour of the service, introductions to all staff members, an explanation of all relevant policies and procedures, including health and safety measures. If you haven't already got an induction checklist then create one, ask existing staff members what information should be on the list and try and put yourself in the shoes of a new starter and think what small details you’ve missed.

The formal induction should include any applicable training (for example on the CCMS, phones or computer) and any technical know how necessary to ensure the staff member feels equipped and capable to do their job, for example locking a door, operating pieces of equipment, nappy disposal units etc… anything that is technically specific to your service. Too often these small details are overlooked and for nervous staff members it can be stressful asking for help.

It may be helpful to assign different team members to assist with the induction, the director/manager should conduct a run down of all the legal, procedural, HR and confidential aspects of the position. However, senior educators could conduct tours of the rooms and playground and one of the kitchen staff could do a tour of the kitchens and eating routines.

The goal of the formal induction is to empower your new team member as quickly as possible with the information they need to do the job independently and successfully. However, remember the 'informal' induction of a new team member may take much longer, and you should be prepared to answer questions and offer on-going support and encouragement until the formal probation period is over.

Another effective way to manage induction in the longer term is to nominate a buddy from your team to work with the new recruit for the first weeks. A buddy system takes the heat off the director and will help the new recruit build relationships with other team members. Consider a rotating buddy system so the new recruit has the opportunity to meet and work closely with a variety of team members. This may be especially useful if you have a roster of part time staff.

People 'on the floor' may also be a source of specific/localised know-how not as available to the director or manager of a centre, for example, what calms a specific child or where a certain book is kept. New recruits may also feel less worried about asking questions of someone 'on their level', which will ensure they quickly and effectively accrue the knowledge necessary to do their job effectively.

At the end of the probation and induction period be sure to check in with the new recruit and ask them how they are feeling, whether they have got a handle on all the aspects of their new position and what they feel was missing from the induction process. By constantly improving your internal processes you will improve the likelihood of holding on to that valuable new recruit.

This article is proudly sponsored by the online destination for early education and care professionals.


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