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 what’s expected of him, it’s likely to be difficult to focus on job performance. Most businesses recognize this and provide some form of new hire organizational orientation that covers a range of topics and varies in duration. Do orientation programs succeed at putting new employees at ease and familiarizing them with their work environment? Some do; others do not. Programs that succeed do so because they’re well-planned and thoughtfully organized in terms of format and content. But for those employers to whom the term orientation means sending new employees to a brief meeting during which someone from HR describes the company’s history, rules, and benefits and leaves 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 him at the outset?
In this chapter, we’ll explore the elements of successful “live” organizational orientations. Departmental orientations will be discussed in Chapter 17, and selfdirected, or web-based, orientation will be explored in Chapter 18.
First and foremost, organizational orientation programs should focus on affirming a person’s decision to join your company. There’s nothing worse than changing jobs only to have regrets shortly thereafter. The orientation process should therefore expand upon what the employee learned during his interviews, such as the company’s values and corporate culture, and how individual goals can align with those of the organization. Orientation should also focus on encouraging each person to feel like a contributing member of your company from the outset. Overall, then, your goal is to have them leave at the end of their first day feeling like valued employees, not like new hires. In other words, you want to make a good first impression.
There’s a great deal of talk concerning the merits of first impressions. Usually the discussion has to do with how applicants can impress their prospective employers,