Tips for employers - onboarding new staff and creating an inclusive, diverse and engaged workforce
This session was presented as a workshop in March to our Diverse Sustainability Initiative Partners by Paul and Chetal at Bates Wells. This article summarises some of the advice given by Paul and Chetal during the session, as well as some of the discussion topics that followed.
Paul Seath is a Lawyer helping organisations to build, motivate & manage their people.
Chetal Patel is a Partner of Bates Wells and Head of Immigration. She is also a Race, Ethnicity & Cultural Heritage Ambassador & Charity Trustee.
Recruitment: Be open-minded about your audience
Ensure that you have an inclusive recruitment process, thinking carefully about the language you use within your adverts can make a real difference. Refer to the ‘Tips for an inclusive job advertisement’ guide for more information.
Avoid asking about an individual’s immigration status
If possible for your organisation, avoid stating that only those with the right to work in the UK can apply for the job. This is because there are a variety of routes that may mean an individual can obtain the right to work in the UK, e.g. based on their personal circumstances, or you might be able to sponsor them under a work visa.
Job adverts in the new world of work
There are many factors that candidates look out for when considering the attractiveness of a job, including hybrid working policies, menopause rights, mental health awareness, wellbeing perks, family-friendly and carers leave, and training/development.
It’s important to keep up with these shifting expectations, or you run the risk of losing out on great candidates.
Make it clear what you are offering to the candidates
Job advertisements are a great way to advertise your purpose and values. Just as you are letting candidates know what you require of them, make it clear what you can offer them in return.
In the session, Paul and Chetal spoke about how numerous studies have shown that transparency around salaries is a crucial tool in fighting the gender pay gap. Their advice was to, be open about the salary on offer in the job advertisement, where possible. Not being transparent can also create another barrier to the application process.
But this extends beyond just the financial benefits, for instance, flexible working provisions and compressed hours provisions are hugely appealing to carers and parents of younger children.
Use the job advert to really sell your organisation; if you offer something that sets you out from the crowd, spell it out.
Once you have a job advert that is inclusive of all underrepresented individuals, you should create a carefully-planned programme to settle new people into the role. The initial contact with your organisation is key, as this sets the tone for the new employee. Failure to do this well can create a poor impression and undo much of the work which initially attracted the candidate to the job. One example of good practice is providing each new staff member with a welcome package, this might include a welcome card, and some sustainable items that they can use outside of work, to give a more personal touch.
You might even tailor the induction to suit the new employee, for example, someone who is recently out of university is likely to need a different induction to a new employee with extensive experience in a similar role, or someone returning to the world of work after a long absence.
To offer some additional support, you could appoint someone to act as a mentor to help with day-to-day questions.
Before the employee begins, it’s best to consider the below
- Draw up a checklist of what is being covered in the induction.
- Decide who will greet the new employee on their first day and who will conduct the induction.
- Different parts of the induction can be handled by different staff to draw on their expertise.
- Work out how long the induction should last - it does not have to be confined to the first day. It may spread over several days or weeks, depending on how it ties in with training for the job.
- Schedule calls (if remote) with different members of the team.
- Considering any special requirements or support that they might need.
Supporting the new employee to settle into the organisation
- Tell them about your organisation, be transparent and open for questions to support your new employee to settle in.
- Creating an organisational map/ diagram explaining who each individual is, what their role is and where they sit in the organisation can be really useful. Even better if it includes photos, contacts, contact preferences and pronouns. The new employee will want to avoid being rude by forgetting names, so make it easy for them.
- Tell them how the organisation works and what your values are.
The next few days
- Explain the role fully, how their performance will be assessed and possible opportunities for development, training and routes for promotion.
- Run through their terms and conditions so they understand what they mean in practice and the details of any probation period.
- Explain any important rules, such as the behaviour that is expected and what is not acceptable, and work practices. Explain how problems concerning performance, discipline and absence, and serious complaints against staff, are handled.
- Reference any other necessary policies such as the use of the company internet, email and phones.
- Cover the small details such as dress code, car parking and canteen facilities.
Paul reiterated that ongoing support for the new employee is just as important, especially for staff retention.
- Choose a member of staff as the new employee's mentor or answer questions. They will also become a point of contact to further develop the employee’s understanding of the business and make them feel they belong. Ensure that this employee is happy to do this and has the capacity to support where possible.
- You might consider putting funds aside as part of a well-being budget, where staff can spend this on cycling, yoga, therapy, etc or off time off to staff in addition to their annual leave for a well-being day, to encourage them to spend a day focusing on their well-being.
- Creating a safe space within the work environment can be key to an understanding and open workplace. For example, some organisations might host a roundtable to discuss different themes, such as newsworthy themes, past experiences or looking into the future. This can really engage the team and help them understand different perspectives.
- After six months, check how useful the induction has proved.
- Some employees may need special attention to address issues of confidence, imposter syndrome or anxiety, particularly:
-School and college leavers.
-Employees with disabilities.
-People returning to work after a break in employment, or changing their work situation.
If you have the resources, offering an external mentor or coach for the individual can be useful, this way they can discuss or work on any barriers/concerns without the pressure of sharing this within the work environment.
Leaders must set out a vision that’s good for the organisation and means something to staff. The narrative must be ongoing and not a one-off; it’s important to keep communicating. Leaders must ensure that values are lived, not just spoken.
Creating an inclusive and supportive culture within the workplace is not just the responsibility of leadership. Managers generally have much more contact with the staff members, they should therefore adhere to the below:
- It’s important for managers to value staff contributions and relate to staff.
- Managers must empower rather than control.
- Managers should be active listeners and motivators.
- Ensure that managers are confident in effectively managing and developing people.
- Ensure that management and leadership are equipped with having difficult conversations, whether this is regarding redundancy or performance, how you approach the conversation can have a huge impact on how the message is received. Communication and understanding are key.
- Ensure that managers avoid the "out of sight, out of mind" mentality and unconscious bias, especially for remote workers.
- When considering remote workers, managers should have an open-door online policy, giving remote employees one-on-one time as often as possible.
- Integrate values into training and development.
- Including values-based training and development programs as part of the employee's journey is another way to embed values in people management. This can include values-based leadership training, team-building activities, and role-playing exercises.
- Embedding EDI (equality, diversity & inclusion) training within the workplace can help you keep an inclusive workplace.
Some practices you can consider as a remote organisation
- Ensure that everyone understands and respects each other’s work communication preferences. Especially for those who are neurodiverse or have impairments, remote working can be difficult, consider ways that your organisation can be digitally inclusive, for example, you might ensure that all your online staff meetings include closed captions.
- Consider offering flexible working hours, especially for those with caring responsibilities.
- Research suggests that remote workers are just as - if not more - productive than in-office employees. It is important to not micro-manage staff because you are a remote organisation.
- A sense of belonging is important for employees, a clearly defined culture may be more difficult to create online, however, it can be done.
- Consciously reward staff across the board, and ensure that there are no favourites.
- Where you can consider face-to-face events with your staff, organising a social event can also create a stronger team.
- You could create a virtual office, this is where staff log onto a virtual call together and work as they would in an office for a couple of hours. It means that they can talk to one another and work at the same time, which can especially help those that struggle with loneliness from working at home.
In summary, the session reiterated that creating an inclusive, diverse and engaged workforce is essential for the success of any organisation. By implementing these tips, employers can attract and retain top talent, foster innovation, and build a positive company culture. It is important to remember that creating an inclusive workplace is an ongoing process that requires continuous effort and commitment. By valuing and respecting the differences among employees, employers can create a welcoming and supportive environment that benefits everyone.
If you are interested in embedding equality, diversity and inclusion within your organisation, consider making a public commitment and joining as a Diverse Sustainability Initiative partner, we provide sessions like the one above to support our partners on their journey.