For employers, getting new hires signed-up for payroll and benefits is obviously paramount, however, most companies, large and small, expand these routine sign-up activities to include some form of Employee Orientation Program.
Likewise, Orientation Programs can run the gamut from formal group sessions to one-on-one meetings with key individuals. But often, companies will structure Employee Orientation as a combination of both types, especially for professional-level positions.
Regardless of how limited or expansive an Orientation Program may be, the objective should be the same, i.e., to facilitate the introduction of new employees into the work force. Granted, this seems logical and obvious, but many times Orientation Programs fall far short of this objective.
Simply speaking, an Orientation Program should be more than an exercise in filling out forms, interspersed with a few speakers or generic video presentations. Unfortunately, this is more often the case than not, and is one of the main reasons Orientation Programs often receive less than positive feedback.
That said, writers charged with developing Orientation Programs, need to carefully plan the format, content and timing of these sessions with purpose and detail.
First and foremost, developers need to champion the idea that New Employee Orientation is a Process, and not something that can be effectively accomplished in only a few hours or even in a single day.
Second, in line with this, a determination has to be made as to what needs to be done on the first day of employment versus what can and should be done after the first day.
The completion of payroll and tax forms, an organizational overview, a general summary of policies and “housekeeping” issues are appropriate and necessary day one activities. On the other hand, detailed benefits presentations, sessions on Performance Appraisal and training opportunities are generally more relevant later in the Orientation Process.
The same holds true for activities whose intent is to integrate and “orient” new employees into the culture of the organization.
In this regard, presentations by Senior Managers detailing Company History, Philosophy, Products and Services, Business Conduct, Public Relations, etc. will be better-received once the new hire has had some time to become acclimated to their working environment.
Third, writers need to factor in Departmental Orientation as a vital part of the overall Orientation Strategy.
In a nutshell, department managers need to prepare for their new employees. Unfortunately, it is not unusual for new employees to be escorted to workstations, and then be ignored by supervisors and co-workers alike. Having a formal Departmental Orientation and a sponsor will preclude these occurrences.
Fourth, getting an organizational consensus and commitment on these three areas will provide the framework of an effective Orientation Program.
With this commitment in place, developers will be able to articulate a strategy and objectives, and then design an Orientation Program that has Management’s support. As such, here is an of how one might model an extensive Employee Orientation Program:
* Part One – First AM on the job: Formal Welcome, Company Overview, Payroll and Benefits
* Part Two – First PM on the job: Work Unit Orientation.
* Part Three – Within the first month of hire: Senior Management Presentation, comprehensive Benefits Presentation, Company Products and Services Overview.
* Part Four – Within three months of hire: Training and Development Overview, Performance Evaluation Procedures, Promotional Opportunities, Human Resources Q. and A.
* Part Five – Within six months of hire: Orientation Evaluation and Follow-up.
Note that the above model is only offered as a starting point for writers. It does not take into account organizational customs, operational issues, or scheduling. As such, coordination with departmental managers and presenters will be necessary.
The end result of a well-planned Orientation Program should be employees who “buy-in” to the culture, vision, and purpose of the company. Of course, this wont happen overnight, but the long-term benefits of committing time and effort to affecting this mind-set cannot be overlooked.