Employee Orientation Is an Ongoing Process at the DuPont Merck Pharmaceutical Co

Article excerpt

When Wilmington, Delaware-based E. I. DuPont De Nemours & Company Inc., and Whitehouse Station, New Jersey-based Merck & Company Inc. formed DuPont Merck Pharmaceutical Co. in January 1991, they began operations with approximately 4,300 employees. The new enterprise needed all its employees to hit the ground running with a clear understanding of their responsibilities. In addition, because 85% of its work force transferred over from DuPont, the new company needed to synthesize and rechannel the talents and energy of these employees, as well as those who came from Merck.

To ensure complete acclimation for employees of DuPont Merck, Sonia Koplowicz, orientation programs manager, recognized a need for a comprehensive, consistent orientation process. She solicited proposals from vendors and selected a design team headed by R.C. Taylor & Associates, training and development consultants in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Together, they conceived a three-tiered approach to new employee orientation they call orienteering, a process of introducing new employees to their work units, divisions and the company as a whole.

WORK-UNIT ORIENTEERING SHAPES AN EMPLOYEE'S PERCEPTION OF THE COMPANY AND HIS OR HER ROLE IN IT. During this first tier of the process, which begins when an employee is hired, employees gain a clear sense of direction, define objectives, identify resources and assimilate company values. They're coached by their supervisor, a sponsor and an administrative coordinator who form an orienteering team to help the employee transition smoothly into the new environment and quickly become a valuable contributor.

To aid in the work-unit orienteering process, Koplowicz and R.C. Taylor worked with West Chester, Pennsylvania-based The Writing Center Inc. and Bensalem, Pennsylvania-based Feeney/Megelsh Design to develop an orienteering kit. The kit's design incorporates four posters associated with the company's mission and vision, and the orienteering process's title, "The Road Taken." The kit contains a video, "Making a Great First Impression," which contrasts the usual one- or two-day orientation event with a customized orienteering process in which new employees are guided by a dedicated team, four booklets containing guidelines for each team member and an Implementation Guide.

The guide serves as a training manual for the employee's supervisor. It summarizes the advantages of an effective orienteering process and explains how to customize the process for each new employee, how to form the work-unit orienteering team and how to define each team member's role. In addition, it contains a master checklist that summarizes team members' key actions.

To create the checklist, Koplowicz drew upon the expertise and experience of innumerable resources within DuPont Merck, such as compensation experts and benefits specialists. …