The Website and Blog of HR Author and Speaker Lori Kleiman

Orientation goes beyond paperwork!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANew hire orientation means different things to different organizations. For many, it is the first few hours an employee starts the job. They sit in a room with an administrative member of your team and complete reams of paperwork. Organizations are starting to utilize online systems – which have the advantage of completing the paperwork electronically, but still create an administrative burden. The employee is then sent to their manager and they “get to work.” But often there is little formal socialization or corporate culture overview that takes place.

As discussed in past blogs, the vast majority of employees select and remain on a job because of their co-workers. But we do little to ensure those bonds are created and last. We often find that turnover rates are highest in the first 90 days of employment. When asked, the typical answer is that “the job wasn’t as described,” or “I felt so connected to the recruiter and hiring manager, but the team just didn’t click.” And most importantly, “No one bothered to ask how it was going so I didn’t know whom to tell!”

Orientation should be a structured program integrating the employee over the first ninety days of employment at a minimum. An effective sample program is outlined in this article on Inc.com.  Essentially the concept is to stay in touch and check in with the employee to ensure the position is as they expected, and they are making connections. There need to be formal meetings established by management and HR. And the new hire should have ample freedom to discuss questions with your team as needed.

I often suggest formally assigning a buddy to new employees who are responsible for making a connection. They take the employee to lunch the first day, and ensure they have what they need. For this program to be most effective, assign the buddy from a different area of the organization. That allows the new hire to talk freely about issues without concern of it getting back to their manager. If you are considering a buddy program, HR.com has a good overview complete with a step-by-step guide to creating a program for your organization.

Getting managers involved is a key component to any effective orientation program. Ensure that managers understand how critical the first ninety days of the relationship are as it relates to retaining and building top talent. Managers should be provided with checklists and guidelines of how to handle the orientation and provide deliverables back to HR of how the new employee is assimilating to your environment.

Orientation can be a key to creating a long-term team that is aligned with your culture and strategy – but only if it is managed as a significant and meaningful process with the expectation that it adds value to the organization.

Photo by Chris used under the following license.