Last reviewed 28 June 2013

by Kay Crosse

Introduction

As many senior practitioners are aware, recruiting new employees is an expensive business, not only in terms of recruitment costs but also in terms of the time that existing staff commit to the process. Recruiting new staff is also an inexact science, as even the most experienced will admit that they have not always got it right in appointing people to particular posts.

The purpose of the induction programme

When the appointment has been made and the new employee arrives, it makes sense for existing staff to be welcoming and ensure that the new arrival settles in as quickly and happily as possible. The children usually extend a warm welcome, so it only requires a well-planned induction programme to complete the process.

It is worthwhile remembering the purpose of any induction, which is to ensure that all staff have the knowledge, skills and expertise to provide the very best care and education for the children and families for whom they have responsibility. While carrying out this role, team members need to have a common, professional approach that upholds the ethos and principles of the provision. This is particularly the case where the provision is part of a group brand.

It is best to think of the induction as a continuing process rather than a quick two-hour rush through the provision’s policies. If possible, the manager should conduct the induction, but this could be dependent on the size of the provision. Remember to set the context for the induction as a two-way process where both parties feel comfortable raising queries as to professional practice and expectations. Whoever is responsible for staff inductions should ensure that there are no interruptions and that the full attention of everyone involved is given to the induction process. These first “messages” to a new employee are very important.

Taking into consideration the size of the provision and whether it is large enough to have an HR department, make certain that all of the legal requirements have been attended to, such as “permission to work” and “next of kin”. It is likely that these will have been sorted out before the first day of employment but it is still worth checking.

The first induction session

The first induction session should take place on the first day of employment, starting with a look round the provision, meeting staff and children, followed by an initial meeting with a senior member of staff and a brief discussion of the induction pack, which is likely to contain the provision’s policies and procedures and the necessary paperwork, such as holiday arrangements and uniform requirements. Remember that policies are written to be supportive of staff, rather than a test of knowledge. Give new employees the opportunity to question why things are to be done in a certain way so that they can act in an informed, knowledgeable manner, especially if in succeeding weeks their role will mean that they have responsibility for other staff. Many provisions will appoint a mentor for a new member of staff which enables more informal support to be available on a day-to-day basis.

The following few days and weeks will provide the opportunity for the new recruit to feel more confident about how the provision operates, particularly about the practices and expectations of the room where the employment will be based. A room induction is also needed so that the new member of staff gets to know the children and their parents and, most importantly, the “routines and organisation”. This induction is usually carried out by the room leader and can also provide the opportunity to build a professional relationship. If the new employee is the room leader, the induction needs to be handled sensitively, perhaps with the deputy manager as well as the existing room staff.

The probationary period of employment

Most new recruits will have a probationary period of employment, so it is important to get feedback from senior staff; also, remember to ask the new member of staff as well. Professional, timely support is the correct approach at this time, as a confident, settled staff member is of benefit to everyone. Open, honest discussions about any improvements needed are essential during the probationary period. The contract of employment may be signed, when appropriate, at the end of the probationary period.

It is wise to think about the amount of information that any new member of staff can retain at any one time, so prioritising the information to be discussed in the first induction to the provision is a good idea. The following aspects provide a good starting point for the first discussions.

  • At the top of the list, the first policy and procedure to discuss is that related to safeguarding. Be certain that the new employee is absolutely clear about the way in which any safeguarding concerns, no matter how small, should be shared with the appropriate people on a confidential basis.

  • Also very important, is the provision’s policy on Vetting and Barring — Criminal Records Checks. Most nurseries have a policy that does not allow staff without these checks completed together with satisfactory references, to work with children unsupervised. All staff need to be reminded of this, and the new member of staff supported to carry out the role within these temporary restrictions.

  • Again, one of the first policies to be discussed should be that of security and which team members can permit access to the provision. Linked to security, is the responsibility of staff to take the correct actions in the case of a “missing” child.

  • Health and safety is another important issue and the new recruit needs to be certain about, in the first instance, what to do about fire procedures and the reporting of accidents.

Finally

When inductions are carried out effectively and new joiners settle quickly, the likelihood is that staff turnover will be kept to a minimum. The most effective teams reflect a wide range of skills and knowledge with a range of experience and age ranges.