Take a moment to imagine what it would be like to walk through the doors of your company for the first time. How would you like to be treated? What training and tools would you need to get started in your new job?
How your business welcomes new employees can have a big impact on their future relationship with the company and on their long-term performance. An employee who feels overwhelmed or unwelcome during the first few days of a new job may never become an enthusiastic contributor to your organization. While providing proper guidance and training for new employees requires some time and effort on the part of experienced staff, investment in an orientation program will likely result in lower turnover and higher productivity rates for your company.
Companies that hire people in groups tend to take an impersonal approach to employee orientation. Employees are herded together in a room where they listen to presentations or watch videos about the company’s policies and procedures. Often the new hires are handed a dense employee handbook and asked to fill out various legal and benefit forms. Then the new employees are given a quick tour of the facility and rapidly introduced to large numbers of co-workers.
While this may appear to be an efficient way to bring new employees into the organization, it is hardly a friendly way to welcome people. Most new employees come to a new workplace eager to do the job for which they are hired. Being asked to listen to a laundry list of company policies and retain dozens of names and faces can exhaust newcomers, and it may even put them on the defensive.
Information, Orientation, and Training
Smaller companies frequently pride themselves on avoiding the cookie-cutter approach to employee orientation, but other problems can arise when companies do not have a Human Resources professional to handle the orientation process. Failing to provide essential information is, potentially, even worse than inundating the new hire with details of policies and procedures. It is also highly embarrassing and uncomfortable for both the employee and the employer when a new hire arrives for the first day of work only to discover no desk, computer, or other tools have been assigned for his or her use.
There are certain types of information employees must be given before they can begin their jobs, such as safety rules or time card policies. If possible, this vital information should be delivered by the employee’s immediate supervisor. By sitting down with the employee on the first day to discuss the duties of the position, as well as any essential procedural information, the supervisor begins to build a relationship with the new hire. If the supervisor does not have the time to conduct the orientation personally, an experienced employee may be assigned to guide the new hire, possibly serving as a mentor for the first few days or weeks. In addition to having an HR manual to reference, new employees should know whom to ask when questions arise.
To make a new employee feel welcome, co-workers may want to make a point of inviting him or her to join them at lunch or break time. Establishing friendly and professional relationships with co-workers can help an employee feel more comfortable in a new environment, and this may ultimately inspire greater loyalty to the company.
Inadequate or improper training sets up a new employee for failure. Newly hired workers may have the skills necessary to do the job, but they will generally require some guidance and instruction to understand the processes and procedures particular to your company. It is worth remembering that new employees are usually anxious and uncertain about how they are expected to behave and perform. Providing clear and thorough training will ease that nervousness, enabling the employee to carry out his or her duties more competently and confidently. If a new hire makes a mistake, it may be because training was not sufficient. Before reprimanding a new employee, consider whether the mistake was primarily the fault of the individual or of the organization.
Productivity and morale among all staff members can be negatively affected when new employees are not given the information, the tools, and the support they need to do their jobs well. An effective orientation program may minimize the chances that a promising new hire could turn out to be “a bad fit” who must be replaced.