New starters: getting members involved at inductions
When the employer runs an induction/training event, PCS can agree to have a slot in which reps will introduce their colleagues to the union. Ash, who has been active for around 18 months and is now chair of R&C Leeds branch, has been helping run online recruitment sessions for new staff across several different hubs in HMRC.
“I was asked to get involved in the inductions along with a couple of PCS officers and I signed up. I suggested some changes to the way we are doing it so that the presentation part was shorter and we made time for people to communicate with us. We decided to ask people one by one to do their own introductions; where they’re from, where they are working at the moment and that kind of thing.
Since we started doing it online we have seen an increase in people joining up to our branch. I've had people from the sessions email me directly with an issue. Just today I had a member who had come along to our introduction and he had a problem with getting time off for Eid – I got it sorted for him within two hours and he was really happy.
For me, getting involved in this was putting myself out there. I had done presentations before at university but this was new. At the beginning I was camera shy. Now, I'm comfortable putting my camera on.
I speak about what we can do as PCS reps. We’re open with them. I say ‘we're not magic workers, but we try hard to get the best outcome’.
We talk about, for example, the new pay deal that we have just done in HMRC, and I will talk generally about some of the personal cases I have handled as well.
We say ‘if you do have any issues, our door is always open’, we always introduce a couple of other people from the branch committee. We also give them our generic email address, because that's where we like people to drop any concerns they have so they can get allocated to a rep.
We have done 10-15 sessions in the last six or seven months. I have brought in another couple of colleagues now, to get them involved in delivering it.
Two or three days after the session, we send a friendly email to the attendees, saying we hope they enjoyed it and giving them the link to join. We asked them to send any feedback to us as well. We just send them the one email. I used to work in sales – if you’re constantly nagging a potential member, they'll just be thrown off.
Our inductions involve people working in different cities. I always say to them ‘you will have a PCS rep somewhere and if you are ever struggling, my door is always open. I'll give you advice but I’ll also try to put you in contact with somebody around your local area’.
I think it’s important to build that trust and have an approachable nature.”
SOME PRACTICAL TIPS: HOW TO ORGANISE RECRUITING NEW JOINERS:
- Build a relationship and negotiate with management over accessing new joiners. PCS has the right to meet new staff and ask them to join PCS.
- Arrange to be sent the lists of new joiners and details of when they will be training and/or doing inductions.
- Organise a specific slot for PCS within the training/induction schedule.
- Invite all the new joiners to attend the PCS presentation (currently more likely to be online than face-to-face)
- Think about ice-breakers and digital aids for your meeting: eg Log in early and chat to people as they ‘arrive’; hold a simple poll at the beginning (eg Skype includes this poll facility).
- As the meeting host(s), keep your video camera on, but don’t be concerned if some attendees opt to turn theirs off.
- Make sure the URL link to the PCS joining form is clearly displayed eg in the chat function of the online meeting platform: pcsunion.force.com/onlinejoiningform
- At the end, ask the group in a poll if they intend to join, and make sure the results are visible. Seeing others commit to joining often encourages their colleagues to do the same.
- Talk about successes and how members can get involved in union campaigns and activities.