Induction is the process of introducing new volunteers (or staff) to their new role, tasks, skills required, the people they will work with and the organisation. In small organisations and groups, this might be a quick introduction and then the volunteer is left to get on with their tasks. This may also occur in big organisations, if the staff or volunteers responsible for looking after new volunteers are too busy or are unaware of the importance of induction. However, it’s important to settle new volunteers into their role so that they know what they are doing and are not overloaded with information or unrealistic expectations. An appropriate induction ensures volunteers are able to contribute quickly and feel part of the organisation.
If you have had a volunteering role, did you have an induction and if so, what topics were covered? If you have not had a volunteering role, what would you expect to happen in an induction session (imagine a role you would like to do)?
As an example, Rosy (the garden volunteer from Activity 4) was shown where the facilities were (such as tearoom and toilets), told about health and safety, met some paid staff and other volunteers, and given some information to take home to read. Everyone was friendly and welcoming. She was also given some basic training relating to her tasks.
In general, induction includes both general (organisational) information and specific (role-related) information. Encouraging volunteers to ask questions is also important.
A volunteer induction checklist might include the following:
- introduce them to other staff and volunteers
- show them around the building
- explain who they can go to if they have any questions or problems
- show them where they will be sitting or working and where they can find any equipment they need
- let them know about breaks
- explain how to claim expenses
- explain the organisation’s policy on volunteers using telephones or accessing the internet for their own use
- ask them to shadow other experienced volunteers or paid members of staff
- explain health and safety requirements.
These are informal points, but they are important because they help volunteers feel more comfortable within the organisation. Induction is usually what happens on the first day. Training usually starts then too and, depending on the role, continues for some time.