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Top tips to help your apprentice succeed during the onboarding process

by Simon Briffa | 10 March 2017

This week is National Apprenticeship week 2020 and it’s a perfect time to celebrate apprenticeships and what they bring to individuals, the economy and employers across the UK. The onboarding process is daunting for everyone, but for an apprentice who is likely to have very little work experience, it must be incredibly intimidating. 
In this blog we offer tips and tricks for employers to tailor your induction programmes for apprentices to help ease them into their new role.

Before the start date
There are a few key things you will need to tell your new employee before they start, to make the onboarding process as smooth as possible. 

Start time/date – clarify the date and time you would like them to start on their first day. This varies company to company – some like new employees to start later than normal to allow everyone to get settled and set up for the day first. Asking them to start a little later means you can create some space in your diary to dedicate the time you need to make them feel welcome.

Access – is it clear what they need to do when they arrive? How do they get into the building, and who do they need to speak to or ask for? Also, if you have any car parking or parking restrictions make sure these are communicated.

Working hours – outline working hours for the week. If your apprentice has just left school or college, they will be used to shorter days and potentially more breaks throughout the day. Be clear on hours and any breaks allowed throughout the day.

Dress code – provide details of the dress code for the workplace. Where possible, provide examples of what is and isn’t acceptable. Don’t forget to cover things such as footwear and outerwear if this is important to the business.

Documents/paperwork – make a list of any documents and paperwork they need to bring with them on their first day such as proof of ID and address and any relevant qualifications.

The first day
The day has finally arrived – your new colleague is about to start and is likely to be feeling quite anxious. It is really tempting to provide them with a wealth of information on day one but try not to overdo it. Here are some key things to cover on the first day: 

  • Introductions (to the immediate team) – make sure you take the time to introduce your apprentice to their immediate team members by name and also provide a brief overview of their role.
  • Introductions (to the wider team) – briefly introduce your apprentice to the wider team and the business. If you work in a large office or team, try not to introduce every single person by name at this stage. They may feel pressured to remember everyone and feel embarrassed to approach them at a later date if they forget. Introduce teams and departments or divisions. Explain that there will be an opportunity over the coming weeks to meet everybody individually.
  • Desk, computer, emails and phones – spend time explaining how to log in or get access to the work computer. Make sure they have access to emails (where appropriate) ensuring they take notes so they can do this themselves going forward. Determine how familiar they are with typical computer programmes, such as Outlook, Word and Excel – for example, don’t expect your apprentice to know how to use Outlook. Most will be used to using email providers such as Gmail and Yahoo. Also, your new employee might need a quick tutorial on how to use the phone system. Think about things such as whether or not you have to dial 9 for an outside line and how to put a call on hold in case they need to ask a question.
  • Company policies and procedures – most companies will have standard policies and procedures regarding things such as health and safety, email and internet usage. As with any new starter, you should encourage your new starter to read these policies thoroughly, but make sure you explain why they are important. Any prevalent information they need to know should be covered as part of their induction. For example, is there a policy regarding personal mobile phone usage that they may need to be aware of?
  • Office etiquette – depending on whether or not your new member of staff has worked in an office before, you may need to go through some office etiquette guidelines that they may not be aware of. For example, brew rounds, whether lunch times are staggered, whether employees are expected to answer each other’s phones, what the policy is on stationery – there’s a plethora of ‘unwritten rules’ that would be beneficial to outline from day one, to help them start with their best foot forward.
  • Create a timetable – often, new employees can feel overwhelmed with the introduction of new processes, new surroundings and new people so it can be useful to discuss with your apprentice what you expect them to be doing on a day-to-day basis. Establishing a weekly planner for the apprentice can be particularly helpful in managing their (and your) time.
As a manager or supervisor of a new apprentice, one of the most important things you can do is manage expectations – not just of the wider business but your own expectations too. Be clear from the outset of what you expect from them. You may also find it useful to set objectives and outcomes for each piece of work in the short term to help guide them in the right direction. The more time you put in to training and mentoring your colleague the more they are likely to succeed! 

If you would like more information on making your business the best it can be for your employees, take a look at our Employer resources page on our website.

For further information on apprenticeships, read our latest apprenticeship blog or contact one of our expert team today on 0161 834 1642 who will be happy to help you.