What Happens after an Offer Is Made? Continuity of Experience Matters
Michelle looked at me, aghast, and said, “That is like stalking!”
We were talking about ways to show our appreciation for our first brand new colleagues, the first Wellbeing Workers in Wigan. It was a week before Christmas, and I had suggested that I deliver Christmas cards personally to people, rather than trusting the post at this time of year.
Instead, we decided to go bigger than a card, and eventually decided on the beautiful handmade Christmas gingerbread people from Biscuiteers. In the office, Claire worked hard to get them organised and sent out the next day. We paid the extra postage and hoped they would arrive before Christmans.
I was unprepared for the brilliant reaction that they generated. One by one, our new team members posted pictures on Slack (our communication app) of the arrival of the gingerbread people and their joy at opening the beautiful boxes. Even better was when people posted photos of how excited their children were about them. One hundred times better than me turning up with a card, and a lot less creepy, according to Michelle.
Velcro your new recruits to the organisation and to each other
Skills for Care tells us that after we have appointed people, they are most likely to leave before they actually start. Many people apply for multiple roles at the same time and may accept another offer during the period when they are waiting for the criminal check and references to be completed.
We want to hold our new recruits tightly to us. Within twenty-four hours of the first Wigan candidates accepting their new role as Wellbeing Workers, we had invited them onto our Slack group. Slack is a communication app, and it is how most of our teams talk to each other (the Wellbeing Teams employed by Councils use Teams). We have a four week ‘Slack Sequence’ for new recruits. This means that over the next four weeks, whilst we are waiting for checks and references to come in, we continue to demonstrate our values and intentionally build and bond the team together. Two people (usually the Wellbeing Leader and the Recruitment Coordinator) have the role of creating a vibrant community on Slack and checking in with new team members individually as well as starting conversations and encouraging people to connect.
We don’t just use Slack—we also go old school and send things through the post.
One week after people accept a Wellbeing Worker role, we send out gingerbread people. The next item that comes through the post two weeks later is a personal postcard from me or the Wellbeing Leader committing to the promises that we make to our colleagues.
Starting a new job is a time of transition and can feel stressful and anxiety provoking.
Creating moments and building relationships at this point is a way of trying to ease this and of ensuring the person feels welcomed and valued, and it also creates a positive ripple effect across the team.
The other reason this is important is that we want colleagues to create these kinds of moments with and for the people they support. We are, therefore, modelling what we hope to see—creating memorable moments that make people’s day and enabling colleagues to experience the difference that it makes.
From recruitment to induction
We want a seamless transition from the recruitment process to learning and induction.
Whenever we can, we start our induction process before we meet new team members again in person. We use what is sometimes called a ‘flipped classroom’ approach to our induction: this separates gaining knowledge from practicing skills and problem-solving. We first support people to gain knowledge through e-learning and then use face-to-face sessions to help people apply what they have learned and problem-solve.
Avoiding the jolt of discontinuity
In most organisations, induction marks the handover from the HR team to the Learning and Development team. In every handoff from one department or team to another there are risks. Risks of repeating information, of missing information, or of disrupting relationships. We want to avoid that and create continuity of experience for team members.
The Wellbeing Leader, the Recruitment Co-ordinator, and the team member form a bridge. The continuity they bring means that we can continue to build on the relationships being built through Slack and create more memorable moments for team members through induction. Our national Lead for Learning and Development, Ben, supports the Wellbeing Leader to deliver the induction. The Wellbeing Leader will then sign people off as competent in their role at the end of probation.
When there is a handover from HR to another team, important information, or even what might feel like promises to candidates, can be lost. One HR lead I worked with explained how during interviews, he asked candidates all about their hobbies and interests and how these could be used to offer sessions to the people they support. I asked if this information was shared with the manager. He admitted that it was not, and it was not covered in induction, either. That is a recipe for cynical discontent for new recruits: feeling like they were offered or even promised something throughout the recruitment process that was never mentioned again.
A three-strand thread of continuity
There needs to be a three-strand thread of continuity from recruitment to induction and probation based around: what we expect from people and how we support them to excel, how we continue to live and demonstrate our values, and how we continually build relationships.
Strand 1: From role description to the end of probation assessment
The role description shows clearly what we expect at every stage. It is a thread that runs from the first contact in recruitment, into the workshop, through induction, and beyond the moment when the new team member completes their probation.
To help achieve this, we use a ‘progress’ document. This is how we try to put one of Brene Brown’s signature phrases, ‘Clear is Kind’, into practice. We take the role description and for every element of it, we create five statements that describe the understanding and behaviours required to pass probation and to excel. Team members rate themselves by ticking the statement that most applies to them. This could be number one—which is right at the beginning of learning in this area—to number three—which represents the target for end of probation in many areas—to number five—which is excelling. We ask people to review their progress each week and share this in team meetings. Where people are struggling, the Wellbeing Leader works with them to create whatever bespoke induction support is required.
The What-if cards are also a consistent thread from recruitment through probation and into the day-to-day life of the team. In induction, we link the What-if cards to the relevant procedures and learning and use a SurveyMonkey to check people’s confidence in answering them at the end of induction. When people have any difficulties, we again create bespoke learning opportunities for them.
Strand 2: Focus on relationships
The second strand is our focus on relationships—on delivering relationship-based care and on intentionally supporting the team to connect and develop. This supports team members to bring their whole selves to work, builds the team relationship, and facilitates developing great relationships with the people we support and ‘making their day’.
We continue to foster the relationships that are being built through Slack and to create more memorable moments for team members.
Strand 3: Demonstrating our values in practice
Finally, the third strand is continuing to live our values and to show what they look like in practice: in how we structure the induction and in the experience of new team members.
The information below gives some examples of how we live our values and continuously build connections through induction.
Compassion and bringing your whole self to work
We invite people to share their work history and plot this on a template (in person or online through Mural).
The work history includes what has worked and not worked in previous jobs, and we use this to inform developing Team Agreements.
We invite people to do a values assessment, and this informs one-page profiles and the Team Agreements.
We build on one-page profiles so that we know more about what matters to each person, including what good support looks like at work.
We specifically look at what makes each person feel stressed and what they and the team can do to help them feel calmer—this is part of the Wellbeing Action Plan.
The Team Agreements are one of the ways we live our responsibility value, as they describe how the team wants to work together and their responsibilities to each other.
We introduce team roles with clear information about the responsibilities for each role and what success looks like. The team negotiates who will take which role for the next six months.
The induction includes reviewing the What-if cards and linking these to our procedures and policies. We support people to think about what is expected, their core responsibilities, and how people can use their creativity and judgement.
The induction includes the training and coaching people need to deliver safe, person-centred care and support.
We demonstrate the decision-making and meeting processes and talk about the decisions that the team is responsible for as well as which decisions are made by others. The first decision that the team makes is how to decide on choosing or allocating buddies.
We introduce Confirmation Practices, the Living Well at Home Board, and the Probation Board for people to use to reflect on how they are doing.
Each team member has a buddy whose role is both to support and challenge them.
The induction includes the process ‘How Wellbeing Teams work’, which includes who we collaborate with and how.
We give team members printed ‘Love Notes’ as a way of expressing thanks and appreciation to colleagues and collaborators.
The decision-making process demonstrates collaboration with others.
Our value of curiosity is expressed by learning more about each other—what matters, what good support looks like for each person, and how the team chooses to work together as expressed through their Team Agreements.
The range of activities and processes used in the recruitment workshop process is an example of creativity: from completing large, personalised work history posters, to receiving appreciation books and packs of ‘Love Notes’ to express thanks and appreciation to others, to beautiful personalised induction packs and interactive exercises.
One example of creativity was buying everyone in the first induction of the Wigan Team Alexas to use at home. We believed that if people were comfortable and confident using Alexas in their own lives, they would be better able to support people to use Alexas and technology.
We create personalised Appreciation Books for each person and start using them from day one of induction so that people can record and share what they appreciate about each other.
Everyone creates their own Wellbeing Action Plan based on the Five Ways to Wellbeing and actions to support their wellbeing.
People have a buddy, and they agree on how they will support each other with their wellbeing actions plans.
We give everyone a smart bag with the Wellbeing Teams logo, which contains PPE, the How We Work Handbook, hand sanitiser, etc. It is a professional and efficient way of carrying everything the worker needs for a shift and creates a sense of shared identity/tribe.
Demonstrating the values of the organisation in values-based recruitment has to continue throughout induction and, of course, throughout all team members’ experience. It is an invitation for both the organisation and team members to show up and demonstrate that these values are threaded through everything. They are not shiny words on a wall or a tick-the-boxes exercise; they really do need to live and breathe in all interactions and processes, and fundamentally in the difference that is made in the lives of the people the organisation serves.
Executive Director of Human Resources, Making Space
My hat off to the very tailored approach that Wellbeing Teams takes. Sometimes it’s the little things that make all the difference and everything about this package that is wrapped around the new colleague’s journey is oozing with it. I love that the Wellbeing Leader is ever present through this period and the use of technology to keep people connected, reducing the potential for people to lose interest and to select another job in favour of. Likewise the self-assessments, to provide clarity and focus development and tools like one page profiles to really get to know someone which can then be used to better tailor the support to customers.
Sector wide recruitment and retention pressures often get in the way of providers allowing themselves the time to invest in new colleagues, to give them the best chance of getting off on the right footing and feeling positive about their role after the first few weeks. Its well known that the highest levels of turnover are in the first 6 months within the sector because of indifferent experiences and not living up to expectations. Wellbeing Teams has certainly come up with an approach here that a lot of providers can learn something from and enhance some of their own good practice.
Onboarding new staff is one of the critical fail points of the employee journey, get it right and some of those promises start to become a reality and in turn that begins to impact upon the quality of care that’s is being provided.