Gordon Brown seems to like importing great ideas from the corporate world. Following on from its enthusiasm for core values statements and visioning workshops, the government is planning to adopt another winner – the induction pack.
Apparently, all new immigrants are to get a welcome pack, which would, of course, contain the aforementioned core values statement, together with advice on how to behave if they want to fit in with the locals. As Guru remarks, some of these suggestions are likely to make the new arrivals stick out like sore thumbs. The advice is based on an idealised Briton who doesn’t really exist.
There is another problem with induction packs, though, which Hazel Blears could easily discover if she asked people in the corporate world. No-one ever reads the damned things. One you have checked the company benefits to see how much free stuff you are entitled to, the pack gets shoved into your desk drawer, only to be re-discovered when you clear out the day before you leave. All the other stuff, like core values and dos and don’ts, you pick up from your colleagues. Your behaviour at work is soon influenced by a mix of group norms, what you get rewarded for and what you think you can get away with. Whatever the induction pack says is quickly forgotten.
So it will be with these welcome packs. New arrivals will soon see that everyone else seems to drop litter and play loud music so, if they are so inclined, they will do the same. Like employees in a new job, they will look at what other people do, and at what gets rewarded and punished, then behave accordingly.
The welcome packs will, like all corporate initiatives, be a passing fad. Most will be piling up in refuse bins within a couple of weeks of being received. A few will be forgotten and then unearthed in attics by social historians, fifty years from now.