Job offers and staff inductions
The final stage of the recruitment process involves choosing the successful candidate. Once you've made your choice, you need to inform them. You can do this by sending an offer letter which should set out the main terms and conditions of the job. This guide explains how to go about deciding on your successful job candidate, making a job offer to the successful candidate and putting together a new starter pack for staff.
It should also state whether the job offer is conditional, ie subject to the outcome of checks such as educational qualifications or references, or unconditional, ie not subject to any further checks. If the individual accepts an unconditional offer, a contract of employment exists between you.
Once the employee starts working for you, you have a duty of care towards them. This includes making sure they can do the job both safely and competently. The best way to ensure this happens is through a structured induction programme. This guide highlights the advantages of job inductions, what to include in your induction programme, tailoring the induction to the worker and preparing for an induction.
Deciding on your successful job candidate
After you have completed the assessment stage - eg the interviews and tests - you should make your final selection decision as soon as possible.
To help you reach that decision, you should take notes during the interview as questions are being answered. This will ensure that what is said is reflected as accurately as possible.
Immediately after the interview, you should then finalise your notes and other relevant details.
This is useful for both decision-making and providing feedback to the candidates if requested. Bear in mind that shortlisted candidates may request access to their interview notes or any other documentation related to the recruitment process as part of any legal process.
Making fair recruitment decisions
To make the decision-making process fair - and therefore avoid any potentially unlawful discrimination - you should choose the candidate that most closely meets your selection criteria.
To do this:
- Use a structured scoring system, rating candidates against your selection criteria. This allows you to compare a candidate's score with your ideal score.
- If you use a less formal system for comparing candidates, you must try to make your assessments on an equal basis.
- Try making an assessment sheet showing the reasons for making offers, putting candidates on hold, or rejecting them. Your reasons should relate to your selection criteria, interview questions and, if applicable, the results of other tests or assessments.
Once you've made your choice, you need to make the successful candidate a job offer - see making a job offer to the successful candidate.
Decide on second and third choices if possible, in case your first choice turns down the position.
In addition, a reserve list could be compiled giving you greater flexibility to make further appointments in the event that similar future vacancies arise during a defined period (eg six months). Reference to a reserve list being compiled would need to be referred to in the advertisement.
Dealing with unsuccessful applicants
You should let all unsuccessful applicants - whether shortlisted for assessment or not - know of your decision not to employ them as soon as possible.
If you are delayed in making your decision - eg because you are waiting for your first choice to respond - let them know of the delay by phone, email or letter.
Be prepared to give feedback to unsuccessful candidates - they might want to know their relative strengths and also where they might do better next time.
Making a job offer to the successful candidate
Once you've chosen who you'd like to employ, you may wish to make them a job offer by telephone. This can help you quickly establish if the individual wants to accept the post.
If that is the case, you can go on to discuss any terms of employment that need to be agreed upon - eg their salary, wages and benefits.
Job offer letters
If your chosen candidate accepts your offer of employment verbally, you should then send them a formal job offer letter including:
- their name
- their job title
- the terms on which the job is offered
- the date agreed that their employment will start
- whether they will have a probationary period
- any conditions eg checks on eligibility to work in the UK and take up the employment in question
- details of any action required by the candidate to meet those conditions eg production of suitable evidence proving that they have the right to work in the UK
You should bear in mind that an offer letter can form part of an employee's employment contract. You must therefore ensure that the terms and conditions outlined in the offer letter are correct, as these can be contractually enforceable.
Written statement of employment
You must also give new employees a written statement of their main terms and conditions of employment within two months of the starting date if they are going to be working with you for a period of one month or more. Read more on the written statement.
For further information, see the employment contract.
Ask the candidate to send you a signed copy of the offer letter - this establishes the terms on which the offer was made, in case of any disputes.
Note that if the job offer is unconditional and the candidate accepts it, a contract of employment exists between you and them.
This means that they may benefit from certain employment-protection rights, eg a claim of discrimination, even if they haven't actually started working for you.
However, you should note that the right to claim discrimination applies even if no job offer has been made.
Making conditional offers of employment
Offers can be subject to candidates meeting certain conditions based on your pre-employment checks, such as:
- a criminal records check (CRC) via AccessNI
- a medical examination - if relevant, this must apply to all prospective workers, not just those with a disability
- providing suitable references - you should be aware that the referees may refuse to provide a reference or may wrongly indicate an applicant's suitability
- providing proof that they have the right to be and work in the UK - read more on ensuring your workers are eligible to work in the UK and use this interactive tool to check if your workers are eligible to work in the UK
Employment offers can also be made subject to successful completion of a probationary period.
You will need to carry out the necessary checks as soon as possible and before the employment starts - most prospective workers won't wish to hand in their notice until they have had an unconditional offer of employment from you.
Assuming your first choice candidate meets all the conditions, you should send them another - unconditional - offer letter. If they can't meet the conditions, you can withdraw your offer and turn to your second-choice candidate if you have one.
Avoiding unlawful discrimination when making offers of employment
You should ensure that no one is discouraged or excluded from accepting a job because of, for example, their gender, gender reassignment, marital or civil partnership status, religious belief or political opinion, disability, sexual orientation, race, pregnancy, ethnicity or age.
If you are found to be operating discriminatory recruitment practices, an unsuccessful job applicant may be able to bring an unlawful discrimination claim to an industrial tribunal or fair employment tribunal - even if you were unaware of such practices.
If their claim is successful, there is no cap on the amount of compensation that the tribunal can award.
Advantages of job inductions
Once your chosen candidate has accepted an unconditional offer of employment, you need to start planning their job induction training.
What is a job induction?
A job induction is the formal process of welcoming an employee to an organisation. The job induction usually involves highlighting the purpose, goals and values of the organisation. You might also explain the function of various teams or departments within your organisation through the job induction process. The induction offers a good opportunity to identify any training that the new candidate may need to help them perform their role.
Advantages of carrying out an induction
You should carry out induction training as it will help benefit new staff by helping them to:
- establish themselves quickly in their job and therefore maximise their productivity
- become motivated to do well and fit into the business early on
- understand any health and safety issues relating to their job - this will not only help to reduce accidents at work but also help you ensure that you are meeting your duty of care obligations under the health and safety legislation
- understand your business' culture
Why is a job induction important?
Investing time to induct new employees will give new workers a good grounding and help them make fewer mistakes in the long run. The highest level of staff turnover is among newer workers so it is important that the early period spent with your business leaves a good impression on them.
You should also consider carrying out a basic induction for workers who are changing jobs within the business. For those workers returning after a long absence, eg maternity leave or a period of illness, a welcome back meeting would be beneficial. See tailoring the induction to the worker and our induction templates:
For more information on job inductions download recruiting new employees section from the Employers' Handbook (PDF, 170K).
Preparing for an induction
Preparation is the key to a good staff induction.
Before the worker starts
- Tell other people that there's a new starter, prepare their working area, organise any equipment necessary and have any documentation ready for them to read.
- Consider providing them with an information pack about the job before they begin work - see new starter pack for staff.
- Prepare an induction checklist including all the items that need to be covered and what needs to be done when. You can plan for the induction to be spread over a period of days or weeks depending on the nature of the job.
- Make sure that the key people who will be involved in the induction process have been briefed.
- Arrange in advance any instruction or training courses needed - eg on your IT systems.
Once the worker starts
- Ensure that when they arrive they are made to feel welcome.
- Get one person, ideally their line manager, to take care of a new starter throughout the first day.
- Make sure they know how any office machinery works, and the location of commonly used facilities - eg the post room, stationery store and lavatories.
- It is a good idea to get new workers to complete some kind of work on their first day. This can help them relate what they are learning to their job.
- Include informal aspects such as whether the tea, coffee and biscuits are free or whether there is a kitty.
- Ask for feedback during and after the process to check that you haven't missed anything. You might want to give the new starter a checklist and ask them to sign it to show it has been completed.
- It could be beneficial to provide a mentor for the new employee - this would likely be another member of staff who works within their team and is familiar with the type of work they will be doing.
Once you have established a good induction procedure, it is useful to set it out in writing and use it whenever a new person starts.
To help you devise your staff induction activities, download and use our sample induction plans:
Induction programme: what to include
Sort out bank details and health and safety information, confirm terms and conditions and introduce staff
You should provide information to a new worker at a rate that allows them to understand it properly. Explain what the business does and how they and their role fits in.
You may like to arrange an employee induction programme to include sessions with different members of staff so they can explain their role and their teams' role in relation to the business' activities. There are a number of business areas you could cover through your induction programme, which we have outlined below.
Employee induction on administration
You may need to provide the new worker with:
- details of any occupational pension scheme
- a copy of any procedures and employee handbooks
- any uniforms and standard equipment they will need to perform their job role
Induction: terms and conditions of employment
It is a legal requirement for employers to give their employees a written statement of terms and conditions of employment within two months of starting work, except for those employees who will be working for less than one month.
It is a good idea to go through this with the new worker during the induction programme and give them details of issues such as:
- hours of work - including breaks
- sickness and holiday procedures
- disciplinary and grievance procedures
Induction: health and safety
You are legally required to provide workers with any health and safety information they need to carry out their job safely. Provide them with a copy of the business' health and safety policy and get them to sign it once they have read it. What should be in your health and safety policy?
You must inform new workers - preferably on the first day - of fire safety procedures and what to do if the fire alarm sounds. If there are particular hazards, eg in a factory or on a building site, you must ensure that new workers are made aware of them and what precautions need to be taken.
It is a good idea to show the new worker where they:
- may smoke outside your premises - if at all
- can read your drugs and alcohol policy
For more information, see workplace policies on smoking, drugs and alcohol.
If their job involves the use or operation of machinery, you must ensure that they are properly trained, that they understand any associated risks, and that they have appropriate safety equipment. Make sure the worker knows how to operate any equipment they will be using and show them where spares, replacements and other materials they may need are kept.
Tour of the business premises as part of the induction
Show new workers where they will be working and the location of any facilities they will need to access.
Introduction to colleagues during induction
Introduce new workers to their team colleagues in turn, and to:
- their line manager
- those responsible for human resources, training and/or IT support
- the health and safety officer
- trade union or employee representatives
Introduction to the job
You should take them through what their job entails and how this fits in with the rest of the business. It may be a good idea to buddy them with an established member of staff that can show them how to perform certain work related tasks. You may also find that regular catch up meetings with the new staff member in the early stages of their employment will help you maintain their progression and address any problems or concerns they may have before they become a major issue.
New starter pack for staff
It may be useful to put together a new starter pack of information which can be given to new staff. New starter packs could be either sent when they have accepted the job or handed to the worker on the day they begin work.
What should a new starter pack contain?
A new starter pack could contain information about the organisation, employment documents and facilities such as:
- the latest annual report
- an organisational chart
- the latest staff newsletter
- health and safety arrangements
- their terms and conditions of employment
- a copy of the staff handbook
- any other policies, rules or procedures that apply to your business
- a diagram setting out the location of photocopiers, meeting rooms, eating facilities, lavatories and fire exits
Tailoring the induction to the worker
The majority of new staff will need a similar type of induction. However, some starters may need a programme which is tailored to take into account their special circumstances.
For instance, if you employ young people who are new to the workplace, you must ensure that they receive adequate information regarding health and safety in the workplace, as they may be unaware of the risks it presents.
For people returning to your employment after a long period away, you should make them aware of major new developments in the workplace eg re-organisations. If you have introduced new ways of working since they last worked for you, they may need additional training. If staff need to acquire updated knowledge, identify it fully and agree an updated training programme with them. This will maximise involvement and commitment. See develop a staff training plan.
Directors will need to know more about the finances, strategy and development objectives of the business than other workers. Read more on recruiting directors.
Workers with disabilities may have special needs in terms of access, using equipment and communicating with colleagues. As such you may be legally obliged to make reasonable adjustments to your premises and/or the worker's job. Read more on support if you employ someone who is disabled.
When planning an induction you may also wish to take into account of those whose first language is not English.
You should also be sensitive to cultural or religious customs and make sure your induction process is not discriminatory.
Inducting new employees - Granville Ecopark Limited
How the Dungannon-based business welcomes new staff through induction and training programmes
Granville EcoPark is an enhanced anaerobic digestion facility that processes food waste to create renewable energy. The business based in Dungannon, County Tyrone, employs 33 people.
Pauline McCrory, HR and Marketing Manager, explains how Granville EcoPark welcomes and supports new staff through a range of steps, including a two-week induction with job shadowing, bespoke training and an assessment programme.
"With a small workforce of 33 staff, the company employs individuals with a diverse range of skills that are essential to the operation of a successful anaerobic digestion business."
"Our business is unique, so it can be a challenge to hire employees with the specific skills and experience required for our type of business operation. When we find the right staff, we recognise the importance of retaining them by welcoming them into the organisation and quickly identifying any training that is needed to help them perform their role."
"The first two weeks in a job is a crucial time for all new employees. This is when there is traditionally the highest level of staff turnover. We work to ensure that this early period is spent helping employees feel established via a structured programme of training and support."
"In the past, we had a less formal emphasis on staff induction. This relaxed 'hit the ground running' approach resulted in low retention rates of 58 per cent and poor organisational culture."
How did we meet these challenges?
"We took active steps to improve our retention rates and boost employee morale at the staff induction phase. We developed a tailored two-week induction timetable. This schedule uses a mix of training methods and aims to ensure that new employees establish themselves quickly and feel motivated to do well. During this induction period, the new recruit learns about company values, policies and procedures. We accompany this with job shadowing."
"Each new recruit is assigned an induction buddy, who will take the employee through the job role and shadow the experienced team member. Induction buddies aim to demonstrate our business values and help new staff to understand what the company does and why we do it, as well as this being a section within the induction. We have found this job shadowing system an excellent method of building a rapport between new staff and their future teammates."
"Every new operational employee will also receive ground-up training in the engineering and scientific process required for them to fulfil their job role. This bespoke training is followed by an assessment at the end of a six-month probationary period."
Bespoke training and assessment programme
"The bespoke training programmes and assessments have been designed in-house by management team members. Our approach is to confirm understanding at every stage. All new operators receive a workbook folder at their three-month progress review. They have a further three months to complete it while working on the job and during this time, they are encouraged to ask anyone in the team for help in finding the answers."
"At the end of the six-month probationary period, each new operator will have an assessment on their development. We evaluate whether they meet the necessary standards through their workbooks and verbal exams. The verbal exams assess the individual's confidence and knowledge in each area. If a new operator passes these steps, they will be promoted to a position as a plant operator and receive a pay rise to reflect this."
"If a recruit fails to qualify to the next stage, they receive a two-month extension to develop their skills and re-take the assessment. We have found that this approach leads to an 80 per cent pass rate for new employees. Our assessments are designed so that only the most suitable individuals will progress, which reflects the demanding and challenging job role that they are undertaking."
"Our revised approach to staff induction through job shadowing and formal training combined with assessment has delivered benefits to both new staff and Granville EcoPark. These improvements range from reducing employee turnover through to increasing operational efficiency and boosting staff morale and organisational communication at all levels."
"Within eight months of implementing these changes alongside the creation of company committees and wellbeing programmes, the average staff retention rate has risen to 93 per cent, an impressive increase of 60 per cent in a short time."