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Diversity and inclusion in the workplace
Diversity and inclusion in the workplace

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3 Onboarding

Onboarding is a term used by HR professionals to describe the processes involved in welcoming and introducing a new hire to your organisation. Another word that is commonly used for this is induction.

A photograph of a hand holding a post-it note with the words: Welcome to the team!

The general consensus is that onboarding, or induction, should take at least three months, although there is a view that continuing it for the employee’s first year can increase retention.

Martin (2021) outlines a number of useful statistics in support of a strong onboarding programme, based on a wide range of relevant research, including:

  • Having a great onboarding programme increases staff retention by 82%.
  • A one-on-one with a manager is a crucial part of onboarding for 72% of employees.
  • Employees who have poor onboarding experience are two times more likely to look for a new job soon.

So there’s little doubt that it’s important, both for staff satisfaction and retention, but also to communicate clearly what your commitments and expectations are around diversity and inclusion.

Gittens-Ottley (no date) describes ten ways to build an inclusive onboarding experience:

  1. Let new hires know that inclusion matters – share any resources and explain how your organisation approaches diversity and inclusion.
  2. Paint the big picture – share your team’s current strategy and provide an organisational chart so they can see where they fit in; talk about the practical ways in which the team works together, e.g. systems used.
  3. Prepare your team – make sure they are clear on the new person’s responsibilities and set the expectation that inclusivity is everyone’s responsibility.
  4. Help them speak your language – provide a glossary of terms.
  5. Contextualise their experience – consider using a buddy system to show them the ropes; set up a series of one-to-one meetings with key people who can welcome and integrate them across the organisation.
  6. Time it right – i.e. avoid holiday periods or bringing them in just before their manager goes on leave.
  7. Give space for settling in – recognise that not everyone takes in information the same way.
  8. Add a personal touch.
  9. Celebrate small wins.
  10. Get feedback.

Arranging an informal meeting with your new hire will allow you to get to know them better and ask them:

  • about their background and culture
  • how they like to be referred to and what is important for them
  • about their disability and any reasonable adjustments you can put in place
  • what they are happy for you to share with the wider team
  • for their first impressions and perspectives on how you could change/improve things.

This is also an opportunity for you to share:

  • how they can contribute to the decision making process
  • what opportunities for development will be available to them
  • any diversity and inclusion training data.

Activity 5 Compare and contrast

Timing: Allow about 15 minutes for this activity.

Spend a few minutes reflecting on the induction or onboarding experiences that you have had through your career.

  • What worked particularly well?
  • What went badly or left you feeling uninformed?
  • Did they include any activities or information relating to diversity and inclusion?

Now consider any onboarding activities you have been involved with in support of someone else. What did they involve and what messages did you try to get across?


Referring back to Gittens-Ottley’s list, did your own experiences include any of the examples of inclusivity that are recommended?

Have you seen any of those ideas reflected in subsequent inductions for new staff within your organisation?

Perhaps you could look at your organisation’s induction materials and consider whether anything needs to change.

ACAS (no date) provides a useful induction template that is free to download and use. It includes ideas for the first day, first week, first month etc. Find the link in References.