The Fundamentals of Employee Orientation
About five years ago, I came across a great cartoon about orientation. It depicted a man standing rather tentatively in the partially open doorway of his manager's office. His boss was seated at a desk that brandished a large banner reading, WELCOME TO THE TEAM! He was turned in the direction of the employee, apparently replying to a query posed by the worker. The caption read, “I don't have the time to show you how to do the job. I don't even have the time to show you where to find the file that shows you how to do the job.”1
Sound familiar? Did you ever start a new job without having anyone to provide guidance or information? If so, you're not alone. One survey reports that nearly half of all new employees say they failed to get much-needed support when they joined a
Everyone knows that starting a new job can be unnerving. Until an employee becomes familiar with his surroundings, feels comfortable with the details and routine of a typical day, and develops an understanding of company and departmental expectations, it's likely to be difficult for him to focus on job performance. Most businesses recognize this and provide some form of employee orientation covering a range of topics and varying considerably in duration. Do orientation programs manage to put new hires at ease and familiarize them with their work environments? Some do; others fail. Programs that succeed are well planned and thoughtfully organized in terms of format and content. But for those employers to whom the term orientation means sending new hires to a brief meeting during which someone from HR describes the company's history, rules, and benefits, leaving little if any time for questions or interaction among attendees, there's little hope for success. After all the time, effort, and expense you invested in finding the best possible person for a job, why risk losing her at the outset?
Let's eavesdrop on a conversation between Richard Reason, Hardcore Industries' newest industrial engineer, and his wife, Lydia. It's the evening of Richard's first day