A Good Orientation Program Drives Employee Success
By Johnna Major
Off to a Good Start
Over the past month, you have spent a lot of time and resources and found the perfect match for that important position in your company. You're glad it worked out, and now you are looking forward to turning your attention to all those things that built up on your "to do" list.
Well, not so fast.
One of the keys to the success for any new employee is for you to provide a thorough, well-planned orientation to get that new hire settled comfortably in your company and their new job.
So, what are the elements of a successful orientation?
Throughout your interviews, chances are you've given the employee a sense of your company, its history and its goals. Now is the time to present this information in a cohesive way to help your new employee feel connected to your history and your vision for the company. Share current goals and strategies. Let them know who your key customers and suppliers are. Show them your organizational chart to help them understand the different departments and divisions and how they interrelate and work together to meet company goals.
Sometimes in our focus to paint the big picture for new employees, we forget how overwhelming it can be to start at a new company. So make sure you take the time to give your new employee insights to the ins and outs of the day-to-day inner workings of your company. This will help them feel comfortable and not worry about little details, like how to find the restrooms or if there is a specific break time.
Small details count. Giving new employees information about how to order office supplies and who to go to if the copy machine breaks down will help them adapt more easily to their new job. It's also important to give an overview of your employee benefits and handbook and help them complete all the new hire paperwork (I-9, W-4s, benefits enrollment, policy sign off, etc.). This is also a good time to review safety (e.g. location of fire extinguishers, procedure for evacuating the building, location of MSDS, etc.) Some companies may even assign a "buddy" to new employees to help them learn the ins and outs of how things get done at your company.
You've had general conversations about the job through the interview process. Now it's time to review the job description in detail, articulating both short- and long-term goals for the role. Through this vital overview, you should take the time to introduce the employee to those people he or she will work with the most. This includes key internal and external customers, vendors, and suppliers, among others.
It's always important to have a regular check-in with your employees, but it's especially important during the first three to six months. This is your chance to cement a solid relationship with the employee, to learn about each other's styles, and to learn what type of communication works best.
This is a great opportunity for you to provide feedback on what's going well and if any areas need improvement or re-focus. Doing this early helps the employee know what your expectations are. Sometimes it's easy to think that if there are issues, they'll work themselves out. But usually they won't without clear, specific feedback.
Many companies schedule a formal review at the conclusion of the employee's "introductory" or "probationary" period. This is a great way to document and reinforce the behavior and performance you are seeing and want to continue to see, address any issues or problems, and identify and provide additional resources and training needed to ensure that the employee is successful.
A Worthwhile Investment
Remember, it takes a lot of work to find the right employees. Protecting that investment with a solid orientation will increase each employee's chances of success and, ultimately, your company's.