Ok, I get it. Every article you’ve ever read tells you that inductions are the be-all and end-all when it comes to happiness in your workforce. At Sofology, every new starter goes through a rigorous induction, with the beginning at Head Office being a grand affair, involving lots of preparation.

However, that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. So if it isn’t right, there must be something wrong - agreed?

What’s Right?

When it comes to inductions, many organisations go all out. You know the drill: branded cupcakes, business lunches and swanky welcome videos, usually with pre-recorded messages of luck and warm wishes from somebody important.

It feels so right doesn’t it? Rolling out the red carpet to make your new employees feel special. The cupcakes are so instagrammable and the CEO video is extra empowering - agreed?

But do cupcakes and videos make the experience?

What’s Wrong?

If you’ve ever delivered an induction, you’ll know that it’s easy to spot someone who isn’t engaged with your session. It can be unnerving when, full of confidence that the amazing content in your induction is wowing your attendees, you spot a glum face in front of you. It could be a body turned towards the door and a mind so switched off that not even a crafty cupcake could coax it back in! You might even be so bold as to call out the behaviour.

But let’s flip that for a second…

You’re sat in a corporate induction on day one, about to start a job you had three interviews to get. You’ve been through a lot to get there and now the pressure's on; you have to love it, you have to be exceptional at it, this is it. All of that anticipation has solidified into one big ball of nerves and you’re overthinking every missed opportunity to show your worth… then the trainer utters the dreaded words.

“You’re a bit quiet, is everything alright?’’

Little Things Matter

Let’s break this down. What could stop someone enjoying your pioneering induction

1. They’re nervous.

We aren’t ourselves when we’re nervous, relying on adrenaline to get us through challenging situations; once that’s spent, energy will dip and us trainers get the ‘eyes down mouth shut’ treatment. Try giving the inductees a break, whether it’s for a cup of tea, a biscuit or even a breakout task. Mix it up wherever possible, using activities that cater for all learning styles.

2. You ain’t all that!

Ever had the notion, usually after a great session that you’re the King or Queen of training? I know I have. Unfortunately, it’s fleeting - you’re only as good as your last session and your ability to add value is dependant on your adaptive qualities when it comes to those sitting in front of you.

3. You don’t know what you don’t know.

Try feedback. What you think is amazing might actually be a nightmare for others. The age old induction question, “tell us a little bit about yourself”, can instil fear and dread into the bolshiest of characters, so considering this and reflecting it in your day can really make a difference.

4. Little things make or break an experience.

A misspelled name on a sign in sheet, forgetting to order a veggie option, not enough chairs - simple, but their power if done right is majestic in supporting a great journey.

Big Things are Crucial Too

Whilst the little things hold the key to the art of subtlety, big things can be the dam busters where an experience is concerned.

Sofologists do most things ‘BIG’. Whether it’s the presence of an ice cream van on the car park, an in store conga or the infamous ‘Trust Chair Challenge’ at induction, you’re certain to come across something different wherever you are in the business. Inductions are no exception and, as previously mentioned, we’ve tried and tested the ‘go hard or go home’ approach.

However, what we have learned is that bigger doesn’t have to mean colossal. It can mean a bigger and better mission, message or objective. At Sofology, we want every customer to ‘Feel at Home on a Sofa They Love’. It’s no mean feat, but we go at it with everything we’ve got. For our newest Sofologists not to know this would be a failure on our part - the mission is everything and we’re in it together from day one.

If I told you a secret, would you keep it?

We are now on our ninth version of The Sofology Induction. You read that right - nine inductions written, ripped up and written again. And on the subject of secrets, I'll let you in on some more of the big things we’ve done to get better at inductions…

1. Plan

Let’s face it, winging it is not always the way. Our most successful inductions are those that we’ve meticulously planned, and that means practising your activities (no matter how silly you feel), timing each section and even recording yourselves to see where you can improve. Try it, it isn’t as bad as you think!

2. Remember the Mission

Your messaging, including slides, activities, even ice breakers should all link into your organisation’s mission and values. If you’ve got fun listed as a value, it goes without saying that you should be having it and so should your new colleagues.

3. Get Help

There is absolutely nothing wrong with seeking support from the wider organisation. Inductions often land at the feet of learning teams, but the wider business are the subject matter experts in areas that learning just can’t be. Take it from me, trying to teach a team of highly skilled installation drivers to navigate a sofa through a maze of partition walls is one tough task.

The Final Word

My question was: Inductions - Friend or Foe? We understand that getting the basics right when it comes to your colleagues’ first encounter with your organisation is pivotal. However, the little things, done well, turn in to the big things - and the big things make the experience last far beyond your induction; lasting impressions equal lasting colleagues.

So, my verdict...

Inductions? FRIEND.