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How employers can ensure apprentices feel welcome on their first day

How employers can ensure apprentices feel welcome on their first day
By Kevin Rowe 9 months ago No comments

Starting in a new role can be daunting for anyone, from being thrust into an unknown environment and having to meet and remember the names of all your new colleagues, to getting to grips with a host of new tasks and ways to do things.

This uncomfortable feeling can be heightened for new starters in industries such as construction and engineering, where pranking still occurs in some workplaces.

While most apprentices will expect there to be a level of camaraderie amongst the other workers, it’s important for managers to keep an eye on things and make sure that the new employee is okay if these pranks are being played and that the existing employees don’t take things too far.

In this article we have listed six things that managers should do to make sure that new starters feel comfortable in the workplace.

Let the existing team know to expect a new starter

In the period between the job offer being accepted and the worker’s start date, you should reach out to all members of the existing team to let them know that there will be a new member of the team.

Inform them about where the new start will fit into the business, their job role and some brief details about their work history.

Making sure that the existing staff are aware that someone new is starting will help to ensure that they are expecting someone new and will greet the apprentice appropriately.

Introduce them to the team on their first day

While this might seem obvious, it’s important that introductions are handled correctly. The best way to do this is to walk around the workplace with the new employees and personally introduce them to everyone.

When introducing the existing team, a proper introduction should include:

  • The employee’s name
  • Their role and specialties
  • Where in the workplace you’re most likely to find them
  • Any additional responsibilities they hold, such as health and safety or fire monitor
  • Something light-hearted that they can try to bond over

Keep each introduction brief and work your way through everyone in the company.

Some people try to rush introductions through in team meetings, but doing so serves only to introduce the existing team to the new starter and can leave an apprentice feeling isolated.

Talk to them about company culture and processes

Once the introductions are out of the way, take a moment to sit down with the new recruits and talk more about the team structure, company culture and discuss in more detail what to expect from each of the other employees.

This informal discussion should brief them on:

  • Who reports to whom
  • Company culture - for example, what values they should expect to see in the workplace and what to do if they encounter anything that doesn’t line up with that
  • A more detailed overview of everyone’s role and who to report to for different things
  • Taking another look at the employment contract and make sure they understand the key points

This is a good opportunity to also have a casual conversation about the personalities of different employees. For example, let the new starter know if there is anyone you believe they will get along with, or details such as who the company joker is.

Don’t dump too much information on them at once

It can seem like a good idea to spend the first day acclimatising new employees with all of the relevant information on processes and health and safety information; however, going through everything in this way can make it more difficult for the new starter to get to grips with processes.

By dumping all of the information onto the worker in one day, you increase the risk of something not being taken on board and accidents occurring.

The best way to run through processes and ensure it is all taken in is to break it down into a series of sessions on different aspects of the business, spread out over the first week. If there is any vital information to be relayed for safety reasons, ensure that this is covered before the employee is allowed to walk around the environment, but other less pressing information can be saved for sessions later in the induction period.

Set them up with a buddy

It can be worthwhile to assign a buddy or mentor to any new recruits. This should be somebody in a similar role but with more experience, who can help them to get to grips with their new position.

Using a buddy system is helpful for a number of reasons: it helps the new starter to get to grips with the work and with particular ways of completing it, and ensures that workplace safety processes are followed properly until the correct protocol is ingrained into the new recruit.

Additionally, setting up new starters with a buddy can help to prevent them from feeling isolated, as it ensures that the new starter has someone that they can talk to and who will engage them in conversations with the wider team.

Before setting any new employees up with a buddy, sit down with them, explain that you will be doing this and go through the process of what they sort of things a buddy can help them with, as well as detailing what to do if there is an issue their buddy can’t help with.

Arrange regular informal catch-ups

Once the induction period is over, it can be that your own daily role means you don’t spend much time with the new recruit. However, as the person that hired and welcomed them to the company, it’s important that you remain in contact.

During the first week, schedule a number of informal catch-ups with the apprentice to take place on either a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis. These catch-ups can be a simple way of making sure the worker is happy in their new role and isn’t running into any difficulties with the work or with their colleagues, and also allows the apprentice to feed back to you with anything they need.

Additionally, look to plan in a more formal catch-up on a less regular basis to discuss the employees progress and give them an opportunity to talk about any issues they might be having in a more official setting.

By planning these catch-ups during the first week, you are letting the apprentice know that you are open and available if they have any issues, while also showing them that they can come to you or speak with their buddy whenever they need anything.

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One of the biggest hurdles for managing apprentices in the construction industry is knowing when to intervene and when to let the jokes play out. Following the steps laid out in this guide will ensure that new recruits are equipped with all of the information they need to handle their new career in the industry.