5 Steps to an Effective Volunteer Induction
17 November 2014
We all know what it’s like to join a new organisation, either as a volunteer or a member of staff; there’s loads to learn and sometimes it can take a while to understand everything you need to know. Creating an effective induction for new volunteers is crucial to make sure people are welcomed into your organisation and get all the information and training they need for their role.
It seems like a straightforward thing, but I’ve learned that no two organisations do induction the same way. Learning from large and small organisations, here are some ideas to make induction work for you.
1. What to inlcude and what to leave out!
There’s an endless amount of information that you could include in your induction, from the history of your organisation to how you’re funded, from the roles that volunteers have to where people should leave their coat while they’re on site. Try and identify information that volunteers can’t do without, the things everyone must know before they’ll be able to volunteer. And the best way to do that? Ask your current volunteer team what they think would be most useful for someone new.
2. Creating an enjoyable induction.
Think about breaking up your volunteer induction into different chunks – this might include a one-to-one with the supervisor, meeting current volunteers, a practical training course, a tour of the site, and some written or online information to read in their own time. There are lots of different ways to put together an induction, so let out your creative side and make it as enjoyable as possible for new volunteers.
3. Time is of the essence.
Many organisations insist that volunteers complete their induction before they start volunteering. This might be essential for some roles that need specific training, but for most volunteer roles, people can continue learning once they’re active. And if volunteers are only planning to stay with you for a short period, make sure induction doesn’t take up too much of that time!
4. Take a personal approach.
The purpose of induction is to make sure a new volunteer is confident and capable of taking on their role, that they feel part of the team and have all the information they need to have a great experience. Just as everyone’s motivations, skills and experience are different, each person will need different things from their induction to the organisation.
5. Accreditation of prior experience and qualifications.
Don’t assume all new volunteers need to learn everything from scratch. If someone has completed equivalent training to yours or they have experience that is directly relevant for their role, find out more and don’t make them repeat their learning. You’ll need to agree a consistent process for this so that you can be sure that all your volunteers have the skills they need, but it’ll be worth it in the long run as people can get started more quickly and share the experience they’ve already got.
Of course, there’s lots more to think about when you’re planning your volunteer induction. To find out more, join us on our Supporting Volunteers