Training and Orienting New Employees
Training and Orienting New Employees
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Consider the following scenario. An employer spends a lot of time, effort, and money recruiting the perfect candidate for an open position. The perfect candidate is found and is offered the position. The soon to be new employee is excited and eager to begin working in their new position. The new employee arrives to work on their first day only to be greeted by the receptionist who explains that she was not expecting a new employee and the supervisor is not currently in the office. The receptionist offers the new employee a seat in the waiting area. The supervisor strolls in an hour later and briefly greets the new employee but explains that he has to make a phone call and that he will talk to the new hire after he’s done. After the supervisor’s done, he explains to his new employee that a desk and a computer are not yet available and that the new employee can start organizing some old files. The supervisor leaves and the new employee quickly becomes discouraged and wonders if they have made the wrong decision in accepting the position. This scenario may be an extreme example of what not to do when a new employee starts work, but some companies don’t provide new employees with the guidance needed to be a productive employee. Non-existent or ineffective training and orientation programs may lead to high employee turnover and lower morale.
Orientation is the process of pointing new employees toward successful employment and giving them the guidance and information they need to become productive on the job. An effective orientation program supports a company’s recruitment efforts. Research shows that effective orientation reduces staff turnover, increases productivity and boosts morale. An effective orientation and training program will make a good impression of the company from the first day of employment and will help employees adapt quicker by making them feel comfortable and needed. It will also introduce new hires to the company’s history, structure, products and services, facilities, personnel policies and procedures, compensation practices, and benefits.
A good training and orientation program will start before a new employee begins work. There are several things a company can do to prepare for a new hire. It may be a good idea to send new employees a letter outlining when, where, and to whom they should report. The letter should also include information about parking, building locations, security procedures, and equipment or uniforms as appropriate. Inform staff members of the new employee’s scheduled start date and provide some background information, such as their name and work experience. Order any supplies, equipment, tools, and uniforms the new employee will need to do their job and be sure to set up their workstation and test any equipment they will be using to be sure it works properly. Also, have the new employee’s supervisor develop a list of simple assignments to complete during the first week. Have the supervisor select assignments that will help familiarize the new employee with their equipment and job without overwhelming them. If possible, a co-worker could be assigned to help orient and train a new employee. Like a supervisor, a co-worker can show the newcomer around the department, answer basic how-to questions, and help familiarize the new employee with the habits and day-to-day procedures of the job. Supervisors should carefully select a co-worker for orientation assistance and help them rearrange their regular workloads to allow time for orientation activities. The co-worker chosen to help orient the new employee should be well-versed in organizational and departmental policies and practices, demonstrate excellent work behavior, and be friendly and enthusiastic.
Be sure to greet the new employee on their first day and take some time to meet privately with them to go over the first day’s schedule. Discuss with the new employee the work hours of the job, lunch-hour and break policies, and how and where they can obtain keys, security passes, identification cards, and parking permits if applicable. Review important policies that are included in the Employee Handbook and make sure the new employee understands basic policies, such as appropriate dress, timekeeping, absence reporting, vacation scheduling, overtime requirements, safety precautions, use of equipment, and how to obtain supplies. Give the new employee a tour of the company’s facilities, including a tour of the department or floor where they will be working. Point out the location of restrooms, break rooms, printers, photocopiers, fax machines, supply cabinets, emergency exits, and anything else the employee would need to perform their job. Introduce them to their co-workers. If possible, and as appropriate, introduce the new employee to supervisors and members of management of the company. Show the new employee their workspace and where they can put their personal belongings. Give them an overview of the supplies and equipment in their workspace. Discuss with the new employee their job description, review their specific duties, and review the department’s organization, structure, major responsibilities, goals, priorities, and relationship to other departments. Begin training the employee on their job duties by having them complete the work assignments their supervisor previously selected. These first assignments should be explained to them and should not be complicated, but also should not mindless or menial.
At some point during the orientation process, the new employee should receive an overview of the company’s history, philosophy, values, goals, and objectives. This overview will help instill pride in the employee and in the work they perform. Some companies provide this overview informally while others provide formal presentations. The initial orientation process can last anywhere from an hour to a couple of days depending on the company. Companies should tailor the orientation process to their needs and what they find works best for their employees. Many companies have an introductory period for new employees. An introductory period is a period of time established by a company during which the company and the employee evaluate whether a successful employment relationship can be created. Companies should use the introductory period as a chance for ongoing training and orientation with the new employee. Check in regularly with the employee during this period to see if they have any questions or concerns and provide additional training as necessary. Observe how well the new employee’s skills fit the position and perform a formal performance evaluation with the employee near the end of the introductory period. If for any reason the new employee is not a suitable worker, be prepared to discharge the individual before reaching the end of the introductory period.
An effective training and orientation program for your new hires will support your recruitment efforts and help to increase productivity, boost morale, and reduce turnover.