A man is using his hands to craft a pot with the words "Wandsworth Lifelong Learning," envisioning a future of continuous growth and education.

Their Future is in Your Hands

7 x Ways to Mould Model Employees Through Apprenticeships.

Recruiting someone into a junior post offers organisations a massive opportunity, yet so many businesses fail to grasp the potential this nurturing stage offers them. Like thrown clay, new recruits are malleable – they are unshaped, untainted, open minded, unbiased and responsive to your organisation’s leadership. With your expert hand, they can be sculpted and moulded into the employees your firm needs. This is especially true when you recruit a junior post holder through an apprenticeship.

“We were just getting busier, busier and busier. But we didn’t have the budget necessarily to do full recruitment. We didn’t actually know necessarily what we were looking for, we wanted to be able to mould somebody into a role that suited the organisation.”
Gayle Cajee, Luxelu London

When it comes to employment, first impressions form solid foundations, not fleeting memories. Junior recruits in particular are hypersensitive to these first impressions – absorbing, navigating and trying to fathom how things work, who to trust or where to go for help. The upside of taking time to manage these first impressions is both short and long term. When inducted and welcomed well, junior recruits and apprentices often perform tasks with confidence much more swiftly. In addition, over the longer term, they’ll become fiercely loyal members of your workforce. The start of this crucial journey is your opportunity to set out the future relationship you might want with your new recruit.

Every year Wandsworth Lifelong Learning places100+new recruits in apprenticeship positions across public, private and voluntary organisations in the borough. It’s through working with employers that the team at Wandsworth Lifelong Learning has been able to refine the advice needed to make sure new positions grow to be successful. Here are our top seven tips to get the best from new recruits at the start of their journey.

#1: Advance Orientation

Nervous, tick. Unsure, tick. Thoughts racing, tick. The anxiety your new recruit experiences before their start date is often more exaggerated for junior posts and apprentices than it is for more seasoned employees. Helping to fill this void of second guessing is a great opportunity. Whether you supply the recruit with briefing material or, better still, organise a site visit in advance of their start date – the time before they start is an opportunity to really maximise their arrival.

#2: First Impressions Count

Some people are better than others at creating a first impressions. It’s a good idea to work out who in your organisation does this well and use them to your advantage. A current employee of the month, a previous junior recruit or someone appointed as their mentor are the types of first-impressions that really count.   

#3: Everything is unfamiliar

Junior recruits and apprentices may have never worked in an environment like your organisation. If this is to be their new work life home, then they need to feel at home within it. Switch your hat at the start and think more estate agent than office manager. Think about all the features and make sure they’re confident using them. From signing-in to swivel chairs, the intranet to intercom system, all these elements may be brand new to them. Every element needs time to be explained properly, explored and verified for understanding. The quicker someone feels at home, the quicker they’ll start to perform. 

#4: A Plan, Not A Cram

Most of the employers we work with from across the public, private and voluntary sector are pretty up-to-speed these days on covering the content needed for an induction. However, where some let down new recruits it is with the pace of the induction. Our experience is that it is much better to give a plan for the induction – outlining everything that will be covered – and then taking time to work through it. Knowing what will be covered when or who from, is much better than squeezing everything into a short space of time. Bitesize begets performance, cramming creates confusion. 

#5: Give your vision in person

Whether or not it’s fully grasped at this stage is irrelevant. Right at the start, bring every new recruit, regardless of their seniority, into the heart of your vision. This is much more than a passive communication task, this is an opportunity for them to meet someone senior, to ask questions and get on board with where you are heading. If you believe every cog plays a role, then this is your opportunity to prove how important they are to the running of the machine.

#6: Recognise success and confront failure

On one occasion an employer told us that the best lesson they’d ever learnt with all employees, especially apprenticeship recruits, is to ‘nip it in the bud’. There can be a tendency to mollycoddle apprentices and junior appointments in the first months of their new position. Instead, we recommend you recognise success and confront failure by voicing concerns and coaching performance as soon as it happens. Moulding new recruits is a much better strategy than simply watering a seedling to see if it eventually blooms.

#7: Teach Resilience

One of the best skills you can teach a new recruit is resilience. Honesty around the fact that everyone makes mistakes; awareness that there will be trips and falls; yet the best response is to pick yourself up, regroup and get going again. If you can instil resilience as an attribute in new recruits you will be giving them a lesson that will help them grow with you, and not feel lost inside the opportunity. The best way to teach resilience is through example – be open about mistakes and work hard to motivate change.

Worth making the change.
Apprenticeships at Wandsworth Lifelong Learning.

Worth sharing.