How To

How to give inductions

It takes time for anyone to adapt to a new organisation, writes
Nathalie Towner. Induction programmes help the process along by
giving new starters the opportunity to learn about their employer
and understand what is expected of them. When done well it will
make a new social worker feel they’ve made the right decision
and they will start the job committed, enthusiastic and

1 Why is it important?

A good induction will reinforce for someone that they’ve made
the right choice. “It’s important for staff to feel
welcome to the organisation and for them to find out as much as
possible about the role they are going to undertake,” says
Sam Hitchcock, senior training officer for children and families at
Gloucestershire Council. By the end of their induction they should
have the knowledge, skills and competencies needed to do their

2 Give it time

In a pressurised working environment it’s tempting to leave
the new recruit to get on with it but this won’t benefit
anyone in the long-term. “Don’t underestimate the time
that should be allocated to new staff,” warns Roberta Hayes,
head of service, business support and development for social
services and housing at Denbighshire Council. “It is a high
risk if staff aren’t fully aware of the organisation’s
policy and procedures.”

3 Early days

Denbighshire Council provides the line manager with a checklist of
everything to go over in the first two weeks of a new person
joining. “This will involve health and safety, showing them
round the office and introducing them to the team,” explains
They will also be given an induction folder which includes helpful
telephone numbers, photos of people at HQ, structures of the
organisation and details of their annual leave and other

4 Communicate

It’s important to introduce new starters to sections outside
their group so they can build up contacts and get a feel for the
culture of the organisation. As well as running corporate and
social services welcome days Gloucestershire Council holds
“café style” meetings where service managers speak
to small groups about their section’s work. “Many
social workers are experienced in their particular area but it is
useful for them to know what else the organisation offers,”
says Hitchcock. Hayes adds that it’s crucial for a new
starter to understand they’re not in an isolated team but
working as part of a multi-agency organisation. “If you
don’t give someone time to discover networks they won’t
know what exists, what resources are available to them and they
won’t have the chance to form working relationships with
other agencies,” she says.

5 Training needs

Gloucestershire Council is in the process of setting up a social
work foundation that will help with the training needs of all new
starters. Even experienced social workers will need to attend some
courses as if they come from a different authority they will be
used to different assessment procedures. Denbighshire also runs a
programme of 10 sessions for its newly qualified starters and
Canadian recruits. “For the Canadians it concentrates on the
way things are done in Britain and for the newly qualifieds it
makes them aware of policies, procedures and forms they need to be
familiar with,” says Hayes. For those that want it there is
also the opportunity to be linked to a mentor for the first six

6 Feeling valued

The first six months are the crucial time for the new starter. If
the induction is a success they will feel valued and properly
prepared for when the pressure really starts. “We’re
very conscious of retention so we want to address any gaps and meet
any needs,” says Hitchcock. “Basically we want the
social workers to be happy here as we know there is competition out

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