How to Support Your New Apprentice
Welcoming an apprenticeship is a great move – both for the apprentice and your business. Research shows that 78% of employers find apprentices help to improve workforce productivity.
With England’s apprenticeship incentive scheme ending in September 2021, many small businesses will have made the most of taking on an apprentice, especially after a record-breaking year of GCSE exam results.
There are plenty of possibilities with your new recruit. They give your business the unique opportunity to support the development of a new person’s skills, in line with what you know is needed for your industry.
From a manager’s perspective, knowing how to support an apprentice is key to helping them enjoy their time with you, as well as unlocking their potential.
Training provider selection
Choosing the right training provider can make a world of difference in getting the most out of your apprentice’s experience, as well as supporting your business needs.
Start by making a list of what you’d like your apprentice to get out of their time with your company and think about what kind of complementary training programme would suit those needs. Taking the time to have these conversations internally will aid you in selecting a training provider, as you’ll have a good idea of what you need to find out from the provider before committing to using them.
Don’t forget that your provider is also there to support your apprentice’s learning experience, from customised learning, to ensuring the ‘20% off-the-job learning’ rule is followed.
Get to know them
First impressions can mean a lot. Taking the time to get to know your apprentice can help them feel settled in your business. Small things like showing them around or explaining how things work can go a long way towards boosting their confidence and making them feel at home.
Employees who feel that their company takes an interest in their wellbeing are more likely to stay motivated. Along with helping your apprentice to adjust, this culture will feed through to your whole company, helping to promote a diverse, idea-sharing environment.
Informal team get-togethers are a great way for everyone to officially welcome your team member and grow team bonds outside of the working environment.
Growing these bonds can develop your apprentice’s psychological safety within your team – camaraderie helps to create an open culture. Things like an ‘open-door policy’ for queries and concerns, and dedicated online forums and channels for apprentices to communicate and collaborate, can help with this.
Have regular catchups
Don’t underestimate the power of regular review meetings. These sessions are a good opportunity to reflect on progress and to raise any critical feedback, as well as giving your apprentice the chance to ask any questions or bring up any concerns from their side.
Use these sessions to support your apprentice’s time management across their role and learning. If you’re regularly in touch, you can keep tabs to help them ensure that current plans are working, and to adjust any plans where needed.
Taking the time to listen to what’s on their mind can also help improve your apprentice’s overall wellbeing, showing that you appreciate and value their contributions. This can promote stronger bonds and foster company loyalty.
Getting to know your apprentice also helps to give you a good idea of what their home life is like, and what a good work-life balance looks like for them. This can again help to inform your approach and help them to achieve realistic time management.
You could think about introducing your apprentice to a workplace mentor. This mentor could be especially useful if the person nominated was previously an apprentice themselves, as they’ll be able to relate to your recruit’s experiences more.
Make sure to give your apprentice praise where it’s due. This is another small but invaluable way to make your apprentice feel supported – feeling rewarded in the workplace promotes self-worth, good mental wellbeing and helps to lessen stress.
One benefit of employing an apprentice is the insights they can bring. A fresh mindset can be a valuable asset to your business. Investing in diverse talent within a friendly environment opens the floor to ideas from employees at all levels, helping you to stay current and see things from a wider lens, which may provide a welcome challenge to your current culture and even help you connect with a broader customer base.
Encourage your apprentice to embrace their diversity so they can feel comfortable voicing their ideas and bringing their whole self to work. If they’re from a background that’s not yet well represented across the rest of your organisation, make sure you’ve got a plan in place to nurture their confidence and inclusion.
For example, at Bupa we introduced the ‘Everyone’s Welcome’ pledge. Set out on plaques displayed at the entrances to our buildings, this reminds colleagues and guests that everybody is treated equally and can be comfortable in being their true selves. It’s been really well received, especially amongst new joiners who say it helped them understand our inclusive culture.
Show the value of good health
Help your apprentice to get into healthy habits by promoting an office culture that’s open about health – both mental and physical. Lead by example by sharing your stresses and successes, along with giving your apprentice access to your company’s wellbeing services, like Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs), GP appointments and health assessments.