RETAIL | 10 steps of an effective employee induction

The guidance employees receive when starting a new job can mean the difference between feeling welcomed into a new team or completely bewildered. Despite this, inductions are often rushed or overlooked by employers.

But how important are inductions really?

In a word, very.

Getting people through the doors is one thing, but making them part of the team is what will keep them with you for the long haul.

There are of number of reasons why employers often fail to provide thorough inductions:

  • You may not have time to devise and then carry them out;
  • you may not have staff who are appropriately trained to induct new starters;
  • you may be so familiar with the company yourself that you fall into the trap of thinking these things are self-explanatory; or
  • You may simply not believe they add value.

The reality is that employers often spend a lot of time and effort recruiting employees, only to let their hard work go to waste by not providing enough support in the initial few weeks. This can seriously harm your employee retention rate, as well as invite issues down the line.

Without a proper induction, costly mistakes could be made or the employee could injure themselves or others due to a lack of training. It could also lead to poor performance, and if you then consider dismissing an employee for this reason, you would need to be able to show that you have followed a fair process, which would include having provided adequate training. 

However, these issues are easily avoided.

So what’s the key to an effective employee induction?

It is always worth spending the time to devise a thorough induction plan for any new employees. Before you leave them to their own devices, make sure you have completed these 10 steps:

10 steps to an effective employee induction

It is a statutory requirement for employers to issue either a Contract of Employment or a written statement of particulars within two months of the employee starting work.

A statement of particulars sets out some of the main employment terms. This will include many of the same details as the contract but is not signed by the employee and is therefore not contractual. While a statement can be relied upon as evidence of what has been negotiated or agreed between employer and employee, it could also be viewed as your version of the agreement. It could therefore be challenged at an Employment Tribunal if an employee considers it to be incorrect, incomplete or inaccurate – so a contract is preferable as it will afford you greater legal protection.

You should also ensure you have their National Insurance Number, have made copies of all the relevant documents, and have covered how they will receive their pay slip.

It is always a good idea to organise the employee’s work area before they start. Nobody wants to inherit somebody else’s chaos, so taking the time to make sure everything is where it should be and the employee has everything they need to do their job will save time and promote efficiency.

As soon as is practicable, show the new employee around the workplace so that they know where everything is. In particular, make sure they know where to find the toilets, kitchen or canteen, any locker or storage areas, car parks, water coolers, stationary cupboards, etc. This may seem obvious to you, but it will help the new employee to feel less awkward around the workplace.

During your tour, introduce new starters to other members of staff, especially those whose roles interact with theirs. Rather than introducing people by just their job titles, which may be confusing or unclear, you should explain in simple terms what that person does and how it relates to the new employee’s role.


Keep in mind that there are a lot of names for people to remember when getting used to a new role, so it may be a good idea to provide them with a list of key contacts. Again, the awkwardness of forgetting someone’s name or being told to “talk to John about that” may be daunting for new employees and hinder them from making progress – so keep this in mind.

Spend some time with the employee to explain the structure of the business, the commercial objectives, the long-term strategy and the company values. You may wish to consider providing an organisational flow chart so that new starters can visualise how different departments interact and their role within the business. As well as promoting understanding, this should serve to make new employees feel more involved.

It may have been some time since the interview, so reminding new employees of the key elements of their role will get them off the starting block and make their individual range of responsibilities clear. This should keep employees performing within the scope of their job description, rather than taking on other’s people’s responsibilities unnecessarily or underperforming. You should also explain the business’s work practices, standards, procedures and expected level of behaviour.

This is an important document as it contains all your HR policies and procedures. It should act as a roadmap to the ethical and legal treatment of employees. We recommend asking the employee to sign a receipt to acknowledge that they have received, read and understood the handbook, as it could be vital in protecting you against lawsuits, such as harassment claims, wrongful termination claims and discrimination claims.

If you need guidance on producing Employee Handbooks, our qualified Employment Law Advisers can draft and review these for you.

The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 requires employers, so far as is reasonably practicable, to provide whatever information, instruction, training and supervision is necessary to ensure the health and safety of employees at work. Employers should take this obligation seriously, as the consequences of failing to provide a thorough health and safety induction can be devastating and costly.

Within a retail environment, specific risks include manual handling; slips, trips and falls; violence; work at height and workplace transport. These should be properly evaluated with a risk assessment to determine if there are enough preventative measures in place or if more are needed.

Need help with conducting risk assessments? Our Health & Safety Consultants can carry these out for you. Click here to find out more.

As part of the induction process, you should also cover the location of fire exits, assembly points and first aid kits, your organisation’s procedure regarding what to do in the event of a fire, accident reporting procedures and the name of the company’s health and safety adviser.

If you don’t have a qualified health and safety adviser, our Health & Safety Consultants can act as your competent person and designated point of contact for all compliance matters.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) emphasise that workers are at particular risk of injury in the first six months of a job, when they are more likely to be unaware of existing or potential risks, so assigning a buddy or mentor may help to promote safe working practices and reduce the likelihood of accidents occurring.

From a legal perspective, it is wise to document the steps you have taken and get written confirmation that new starters have received the appropriate training and understood your health and safety practices.

No matter how similar their previous role, a well-thought-out training plan will be instrumental in getting new starters up to speed with any work systems or specialist equipment they will need to use in the course of their role. It can also help to defend any claims arising from inadequate training.

You may wish to deliver training in stages – allowing the new employee to shadow others at first, then complete the task themselves under supervision, until they are able to appropriately and safely carry it out on their own. Through the course of their training, you may also identify additional training needs, which you should allow time for.

If you regularly take on new staff, putting together a standard training plan and appointing a suitably trained training programme manager will help to standardise the process and increase its effectiveness.

Remember, comprehensive training will promote workplace safety, productivity, and satisfaction, as well as increase employee retention – so there are certainly benefits for employers.

Don’t assume that employees will be fully competent by the end of the induction process. Encourage them to ask questions on anything they are unclear about, as it’s better to address any queries now than have issues occur down the line. Support should continue after the induction process is over – so make them aware of who they can speak to if they are in need of any guidance.

Information overload

Be cautious of bombarding the new starter with too much information too quickly, as this can lead to them feeling overwhelmed. Try to structure the induction process appropriately, keeping in mind what new employees will need to know on day one and what can wait for a few days.


Need a helping hand?

If you want to make sure that your recruitment and induction processes align with best practice, our qualified HR, Employment Law and Health & Safety Advisers can help with Contracts of Employment, Employee Handbooks, risk assessments and training.

Alternatively, if you’re currently facing a claim which has arisen as a result of your recruitment and induction processes, we can provide expert advice on how to deal with the situation.

For a free consultation, call 0345 226 8393.