Orientation: Key to Employee Performance and Morale

Article excerpt

Many separations occur just shortly after new employees start in an organization, often accounting for a significant portion of staff turnover. This not only wastes recruiting efforts, but it can also result in the loss of employees with substantial potential.

Of course, poor selection procedures can be at the root of the problem. But, more often than not, we fail to make new employees comfortable in a new and stressful environment. And even those organizations that deal effectively with the "new employee" problem often fail to recognize that similar problems are faced by those transferred to a new department or location.

Sometimes a new employee "falls between the cracks." The departmental supervisor thinks that "orientation" is a personnel department function; the personnel department thinks it is a departmental responsibility. And, in fact, nobody has developed a plan that recognizes short, medium and long-term requirements.

In contrast, everyone in the induction process should have a checklist covering areas such as: * Pay and benefit plan overview. * Available facilities (parking, recreation club, day care centre, credit union, first aid facilities). * Hours of work, breaks, paid and unpaid time off. * Literature about the company, its history, its organization and its products. * Important company rules. * On the job training. * The social arrangements in the department ("We all eat at the same table in the cafeteria").

The introduction should be followed by one or more formal orientation sessions to cover such matters as: * Safety. * Expectations of the organization. * Quality-of-work expectations. * Performance measurement and criteria for promotion. * Corporate philosophy, culture and values.

An ongoing orientation program helps to develop the kind of individuals the organization will need - staff who understand the organization, its philosophies, and its products and services. Furthermore, it develops managers who know how to listen, how to train staff, and how to lead effectively.

Even a full orientation program, as discussed so far, may only provide for one-way communication. However, all checklists, instruction manuals and orientation sessions should provide for feed-back to make sure that new employees fully understand what has been communicated to them. …