The induction of a new volunteer should be a planned process, allowing the volunteer time to assimilate and understand all the information that they are being given. The induction process is an important part of making volunteers feel welcomed and valued. It’s helpful for an organisation to have a written induction programme that is given to the volunteer when they first start their involvement. This clarifies the induction process, acting as a checklist to ensure that all areas are covered. A well planned and comprehensive induction programme helps to ensure that all volunteers are given the information, resources and support they need to work effectively within the organisation.
What Should an Induction Programme Cover?
- Aims and Purpose of the Organisation
- This should include information about the client group with whom the volunteer will be working, the organisation's mission statement, values and details of all the services offered.
- Volunteers need to have a good understanding of all the organisational policies which could affect them. In addition to the volunteer policy, a volunteer may also need to be familiar with other policies such as Equal Opportunities, Health & Safety, Confidentiality, the Protection of Vulnerable People. It’s important to take the time to answer any questions the volunteer may have and to ensure that they understand how policies are implemented in the organisation.
- Practical Information
- This should cover how to use any equipment and resources, (e.g. computers, telephones, kitchen equipment, tools) and any necessary safety information. You should go over the risk assessment for the role. Volunteers should be introduced to any record keeping systems that they will need to use and told how and where information is kept. In addition, don’t forget to give basic information such as where the toilet is and where to get a cup of coffee!
- New volunteers should be introduced to all the staff and other volunteers with whom they will be working. It is also worth thinking about any other members of the organisation that it would be appropriate for the volunteer to meet, e.g. the project manager, members of the management committee, workers from other organisations with whom they will have contact.
- Volunteer Issues
- Volunteers should be given information about the support structures that are available to them within the organisation, the name of the person who is their first point of contact and information about how and when expenses are paid to volunteers. They should also be told about any further training that is available to them and details of volunteer meetings and events. It is also important that volunteers are made aware of how to raise any issues, concerns or new ideas that they have and how their views are represented within the organisation as a whole.
Volunteer Induction Packs / Handbooks
Consider creating a Volunteer Induction Pack/Handbook which provides written information about all the areas covered in induction and copies of all relevant policies. The exact contents of a Handbook will vary depending on the nature of the organisation, but as a guide it should include:
- The organisation’s mission statement, services and structure
- Volunteer Policy
- Volunteer Agreement
- Volunteer role description
- Health & Safety and Risk Assessment
- Volunteer Expenses
- Copies of all other relevant polices (e.g. equal opportunities, child protection, grievance procedure)
- Any other information relevant to volunteering with your organisation
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