Induction is a new volunteer’s first formal introduction to your organisation and their role. It is a critical part of the onboarding process and is a key function of organisational compliance. Induction ensures new volunteers start off with the right information and provides instructions on safety requirements relevant to their role.
National Standard 5: Support and Development covers induction (called orientation in the National Standards). This National Standard suggests that volunteers should be provided with role-specific orientation, which is the first step in their engagement with your organisation. Induction is an opportunity to familiarise volunteers with the supervision and support processes in your organisation.
An Induction Checklist is a great way to ensure you are covering off all relevant information as well as providing a consistent approach to all new volunteers. Your Induction Checklist will likely apply to both employees and volunteers, with some sections that only apply to one or the other.
An Induction Checklist should include:
- General information such as an overview of your organisation, including vision, mission, and values.
- Office and facilities information such as information about workstations, parking, location of facilities and first aid kits, and emergency exits.
- Security information such as alarm codes, passwords, storage of information, and what to do in an emergency.
- Policies and procedures overview, including work, health and safety requirements, privacy and confidentiality requirements, and information on anything else relevant to the volunteer’s role such as information on reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses.
- Practical requirements such as how to cancel a shift, who to go to for support, and any perks of the role that can be accessed by volunteers.
There is likely to be a suite of policies and procedures that are applicable to volunteers. It is important that legislative and other compliance requirements are communicated with volunteers from the outset. At a minimum, volunteers are likely to have rights and responsibilities under work, health and safety legislation. Further, volunteers must also comply with privacy and confidentiality requirements, background checking requirements (if relevant to their role), and anti-discrimination. Further, there is likely direction from your insurer about what volunteers can and cannot do to be covered by insurance.
It is important to go through all these things during induction; however, it might not be practical to have volunteers go through all policies and procedures at once. Induction usually involves an overwhelming amount of information so it can be prudent to assign volunteers ‘further reading’ which can then be covered at a later stage. Ensure your volunteers have ready access to policies and procedures and the most relevant ones have been communicated and understood before they commence their first shift.
Including sign off on induction can be included at the end of the Induction Checklist or somewhere on the Volunteer Agreement. This represents that both parties (the volunteer and the organisation) agree that all necessary information was conveyed to and understood by the volunteer. Such sign off helps to mitigate risk, meet work, health and safety requirements, and meet the National Standards for Volunteer Involvement. It also demonstrates to volunteers you take their involvement seriously and are committed to protecting their physical and mental wellbeing in the workplace.