The Significance of New Employee Orientation Programs

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We are all aware of the implications of poor hiring decisions. They can cost the company time and money, and they can result in low employee morale. One basic step to ensuring that new hires get off to a positive start is to conduct an effective employee orientation program. Employees who are properly trained and introduced to the company early feel better about their choice of employer and usually fit in more quickly. This is a win-win situation for both the company and the employee.

While many managers will agree that new staff orientation is an important factor in the overall well-being of the company, very few invest the time and attention necessary to make sure orientation is done regularly and done right. If your firm doesn't have an orientation process, now's the time to start.

Below are some items to take into consideration when preparing an employee orientation program in your firm.

Think long-term. Each new employee should be included in the initial orientation process, but the process should not end after the initial orientation program. Keep the process going by using proper evaluation tools, and administer evaluations on a regular basis. Keep track of both employee achievements and areas of improvement for a streamlined ongoing evaluation process.

Create an Extended Program. Whether the manger of the department, or the Human Resource Department conducts the orientation, make there is a follow up with each new hire regularly. Questions will vary, as employees get more comfortable with their environment, so keep communications open. An extended orientation program also reassures new employees of the company's commitment to the employee. Newcomers are always under great pressure to perform and settle in, and this will keep the door open for any problems that may arise in the first few months of employment. An extended program shows you understand their situation, you care about their adjustment, and you will continue to show interest and attention over time.

Involve others in the firm. Include peers, administrative staff, front office employees, management, and others who will be working with new staff members in the orientation process. Incorporate a formal introduction process for each new hire, and make an effort to ensure each new hire is introduced to all of the staff in his or her department. Have someone in the department take the new employee to lunch, have others in the department instruct on how to use the phone systems, voicemail, locate supplies and so on.

Create a Buddy System. This will ensure that others in the firm have an active role in the success of the new hire. Use the buddy or sponsor system to help new employees become familiar with the overall culture and work ethic of the firm. A buddy system gives the newly hired employee a person to whom he or she can ask basic questions such as what is the dress code, where are good places to eat, how are client introductions handled, and so on.

Create a checklist of items to cover during the orientation process. Keep good records of the types of questions new employees ask, and incorporate them into your checklist. A helpful tool for accomplishing this issue is to create a questionnaire for new hires. Ask them for their experiences during the first month or so, and ask them about which items may require additional clarification. This is a great tool to measure the effectiveness of your orientation process and to ensure you have covered all areas that need be addressed.

Items that may be included in your orientation checklist:

  • Conditions of Employment
  • Probationary Periods
  • Company Culture and History
  • Employee Benefits
  • Advancement Opportunities and Evaluation Processes
  • Payroll Policies
  • Administrative Items, such as I9 forms, W2s, benefit enrollment paperwork, payroll processing
  • Time Reporting Procedures and Policies
  • Company Policies, such as sexual harassment, vacation, confidentially and Internet usage
  • Features that Set Your Firm Apart, such as special benefits and employee relations

Tips for a successful orientation program:

  • Create comfort and trust from the beginning.
  • Show excitement and enthusiasm about the company.
  • Outline the company goals for new hires.
  • Educate employees on how they will contribute to the overall company goals.
  • Ask for feedback from new employees.
  • Have new employees participate in fine-tuning the process for future employees.

Note: This is only a partial list of items that you can incorporate into your orientation program. The more detailed you are in this process, the more you will gain from the long-term effects of a well-prepared program. Use your policy manual (if you have one) to assist you with the preparation of your orientation process. This will help ensure that you cover all areas that will affect you and your employees.

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