Employee Orientation

A guide to employee orientation, how to improve your organizations retention now!

Todays workforce is aging, and fast. With the baby boomers moving toward retirement, more and more companies are facing a knowledge shortage as these boomers retire. In their place is a younger generation with different needs and desires then the old 9 to 5 mentality. As a result, there needs to be changes in how employers approach current and prospective employees. Employees today wish to feel valued, not just another cog in the machine, making it important to fit your organization to the employees needs, as opposed to the employee fitting the organizations needs.

How Orientations Improve Employee Retention Rates: Employee retention can be impacted by a number of different organizational forces, which start the moment the employee steps in the door to interview for the job. One of the most important things to remember is that first impressions can set the tone for the whole experience. You want to make sure that both the employee and the organization are on the same page and know what to expect from each other.

Start with the Interview

A successful retention strategy starts with the first interview and continues throughout the employee's career. The interview is an essential tool for both the prospective employee and the interviewer to gauge each other's needs, abilities, and future plans. An employee's career starts with interviewing, it is their first impression of the company and how they operate.

Employee Orientation

The employee orientation provides a chance for the new hire to become familiar with their new surroundings. This should be a time of low stress for the employee, giving them the opportunity to meet co-workers, learn the layout of the office, and further their understanding of the vision and mission for that organization. Why do you need to do an orientation? It sets expectations for both parties at the beginning of the job and helps to develop positive attitudes, job expectations and job satisfaction.

Designing Your Orientation Program

The first thing you want to do when creating an orientation program is to define what you want to accomplish with the program. In doing this, keep in mind what kind of impression you want to make on the employee, in other words what are the stories they will be bringing home to their families after their first day/week on the job.

Get Them up to Speed Quickly

Have their email address, phone number etc already set up prior to their arrival. Give them a glossary of common terms, all orgs have their own language. Pre-arrange a "buddy" who will be there if they have any questions or concerns. Prepare a quick "help" card listing contacts for different questions.

A Lasting Impact

A well thought out orientation program, whether it lasts one day or six months, will help not only in retention of employees, but also in productivity. Organizations that have good orientation programs get new people up to speed faster, have better alignment between what the employees do and what the organization needs them to do, and have lower turnover rates. Which translates into dollars.
  • Who is doing the interviewing? Are they up to speed on the job? Do they understand the legal framework for questions? Are they a "people" person? All of these things will impact how interviews are conducted and how effective they are.
  • When designing an orientation program it can be helpful to sit down and make a list of what you need the first day, the second day, the first week, and so on.
  • How can you reduce the first day jitters for new employees? Send them a letter prior to their first day with info in it: What time to arrive, where to go, where to park, who they will be meeting with, what to bring with them (documents for I-9 form etc). Also celebrate their arrival by doing something such as hanging a welcome sign with their name on it by their office.
  • Onboarding: This is the modern term for the process of interviewing, hiring, orienting and successfully integrating new hires into an organization's culture. The best onboarding (orientation) strategies will provide a fast track to meaningful, productive work and strong employee relationships.
  • Who should be Involved: The people who need to be involved in the onboarding process include the HR department, team members of the new hire or a "buddy" from that area, and members of other functional areas they will be working with on a regular basis (ex: payroll/finance), their direct Supervisor, and a member of the management Team.