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Introduction to the new induction

Blog posted by: , 23 September 2016 — GDS teamPeople and skills.


A good induction should feel like checking into a beautifully designed 5-star hotel. You should be greeted on arrival and someone should be there to pre-empt any questions. They should relay essential information (like where breakfast is served) in a direct but not-too-pushy tone. They should probably give you champagne.

The GDS induction came up at a line manager and community leads workshop held in April.

The workshop attendees split into groups. Each group identified a problem they had experienced during the hiring or line-management process. There were quite a few things that we needed to fix with the induction process, soone group decided to look at inductions in more detail.

Why the GDS induction process wasn’t 5-star

A combination of rapid hiring and too few induction sessions to meet such a high level of demand had led to a backlog. This meant that the induction happened too long after a person started.

The content wasn’t relevant to all new starters.

Signposting to online employee content needed improving too. We should do the hard work to make it easy for new starters to get to grips with their new workplace.

The quality of an induction also depended on the team you were in and how much effort they put into it.

What a good induction looks like

During the workshop, one group came up with ideas for what an ideal induction should look like.

The guiding themes were frequency, consistency and clarity.

Approximately 45 new employees join each month. To avoid a backlog, induction sessions should happen every week. As many people as possible should be able to give the presentation and welcome new staff.

Inductions should be consistent in content, regardless of the team a person works in. They should be clear and concise.

The ideas from the workshop informed the new induction process.

Sticky notes of questions new starters may have

Making things better

The subject of the GDS induction had been raised separately with the People Board quite a few times.

The People Board is an elected body that exists to make GDS a better place to work. With support from the People Board, the Creative team offered to work with the People team (which deals with recruitment, training and development) on a revamped induction.

Those 2 teams ran an informal workshop, and wrote down all the things that new starters should know about - one per sticky note. Then they sorted those stickies into 2 piles: the stuff you have to know, and the stuff it’s nice to know.

The new induction treats each of those in a different way.

The stuff that it’s nice to know has become a presentation, which we’re iterating and improving every time we give it. Soon it will be happening every week, and the goal is that we never have a backlog of un-inducted people. The presentation includes what GDS does and how it does it, when payday is and the culture of the organisation.  

New starter Trello board, including simple essentials, things you have to read and other stuff

The stuff you have to know has become a Trello board. Newcomers receive a link to it and are asked to make their own copy. Then they work through the cards on that board during their first week or so, learning as they go. Trello is a digital to-do list, with each task listed on an individual card. Each card gives a few lines of explanation or links to the source of appropriate information. Trello was already used by a number of teams, including GOV.UK.

The new induction, like any GDS product should be iterated and improved. Now we're trying to welcome contractors like we do full-time members of staff. If you’re a new starter and you’ve been through the new induction recently, we want to hear what you think: email the People Team.

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