A successful New Employee Orientation Program:
- takes time to develop
- uses a systematic approach to gathering information
- is supported by top management
- is a single, yet readily customizable program
The key points to remember about well-planned program are:
Successful orientation programs take time to develop. This is not an over-night or quick solution to your employee retention and engagement challenges. In some cases, it may take months to gather the necessary information and prepare an effective program. Be prepared to spend the necessary time and resources if you’re committed to creating a valuable program.
You must use a systematic approach to collecting information to ensure that everyone affected by the new program has an opportunity to contribute and that the true needs of the new employee are discovered and addressed.
Many of the same techniques that your organization currently uses to research their clients will be easily leveraged to determine the likes, dislikes, needs and wants of your employees.
Don’t skimp on this process. If the program you eventually launch doesn’t obviously address the new employee’s needs, it will be flung to the wayside and departments will again use their own processes. Can you imagine the money that will have cost your company if you’ve spent even six months developing the “company-wide” New Employee Orientation Program?
Like any other company-wide initiative, the New Employee Orientation program must have the support of top management, supervisors and the HR team. Gaining this support is crucial for the development team to proceed with surveys etc and to be allotted a project budget but an equally important reason for gaining executive support is to gain company-wide “buy-in”. Without everyone in the organization fully understanding that this initiative has top management support and really is a company-wide initiative, individual departments or work groups will continue to use their own “ad hoc” methods of bringing on new staff.
Also keep in mind that it is one thing to have management support on paper, perhaps buried in the middle of some minutes to a meeting somewhere, but it’s another completely to have this support clearly and unequivocally communicated through out the organization. Make sure that your New Employee Orientation Program initiative is well known by marketing the idea in your company intranet and newsletters. Include letters from executives endorsing the project and outlining the its benefits. Maybe consider an official launch party and inviting everyone.
The goals of the program must also be clearly communicated to everyone in the organization and be in line with the organization’s goals. The goals of any project that your organization is prepared to pay for should align with the needs of the organization. There must be a clear business reason for spending the time and money to develop an effective New Employee Orientation Program. If one of the business’ needs is t reduce Employee Turnover by 20% in the next three months for example, then one of the goals of the New Employee Orientation Program needs to be to reduce Employee Turnover by 20% within that time.
The heart of the program must be a single, multipurpose program that has been designed for the level of employee hired most often. But, your New Employee Training Program must also be flexible enough to meet your organization’s changing needs. An entirely new program is not needed for every level of employee that joins. By developing your program for the most common cases using easily customizable components, re-inventing the wheel is minimized and therefore reduces the start-up cost of a taking on a new employee.
Here is a sample checklist for those who are developing a New Employee Orientation. For maximum results, a clear Project Management approach should be taken including Work Breakdown Structures, Milestones and Gantt Charts. The times listed are for guidelines only and will probably vary in different organizations and by whether the program is delivered in a group meeting, online, individually or a combination. The point here is to start developing the plan well in advance of your new employee’s first day.
Also note that the tasks listed in the first eight months are for program development. Once you have the program in place, only items in the last two weeks need to be repeated for each employee.
SIX TO EIGHT MONTHS Before Launching the Program
- Decide the best time to deliver each part of the program content based on interviews with recently hired employees. Also consider obligatory timing requirements as set by industry or union standards.
- Determine the goal(s) of the program. Remember to align these goals, with the business goals, mission and vision of your organization. This awareness will help “sell” the orientation program to the executives/managers in the organization who will be paying for it. Be sure to answer the question, “What are the current/future business needs that orientation will meet?”
- Determine the specific Learning Objectives that the orientation program needs to meet. What does the new employee need to know, do, and believe when they’re finished the program? Align these Learning Objectives with the goals of the program.
- Identify the supervisors, subject matter experts, managers, course developers, trainers, web master, human resource professionals, and employees who could contribute and ask for their support.
- Interview employees with one to two years of experience. What was their experience as a new employee? Remember to leverage your organization’s current client research methods.
- Perform a Target Audience Analysis (TAA). A TAA provides you with enough relevant information to design an effective orientation program and identify the most common audience characteristics and spotlight how many (if any) customized modules you will need to create.
- Review exit interviews of the employees who left within a year of being hired and identify what could have been done differently during orientation to improve retention. Determining why the left will give you some very good insight into what should be included in the New Orientation Program. For example, if they stated that they did not feel they were trained well enough to perform as needed, then be sure to incorporate a comprehensive On the job training component in your New Employee Orientation Program. This is a basic example, but I think you get the idea.
FOUR TO SIX MONTHS Before Program Launch
- Coordinate logistics. Speak with the appropriate people to arrange tours of their departments. Book classrooms, technical equipment, and other training aids.
- Create a detailed plan for the new employee’s first day.
- Create activities for both the Orientation Sessions and the “at the desk” time. Include the goal/purpose and the timing for each.
- Decide on how the content will be delivered (large group, small group, self-directed, etc.) taking into consideration when the information needs to be delivered. Not all of the information needs to be delivered the same way. Using a variety of means provides the new employee a wider and more comprehensive learning experience.
- Decide what is to be done for the family of the new employee. This step is not necessary for all types of work but for some such as jobs that requires long absences from home, it’s necessary to include the family in the orientation process.
- Determine how to represent the organization’s “corporate culture”.
- Develop written material such as the employee manual or workbook. Prepare audiovisual scripts, visuals, etc.
- Identify the best presenters for in-person portions of the content.
- Prepare presenter’s materials.
- Review Learning Objectives and delivery methods with the presenters.
THREE TO FOUR MONTHS Before Program Launch
- Decide how you will evaluate the new orientation process to ensure that the program has met the stated goals.
ONE TO TWO MONTHS Before Program Launch
- Run a Beta-Teach of the new program with newly hired employees who did not receive an orientation.
- Make adjustments as required.
- Recognize members of the advisory board/task force for their efforts.
- Train New Employee Orientation facilitators and supervisors.
TWO WEEKS Before New Employee Arrives
- Arrange for computer/software and phone installation.
- Assemble relevant organizational materials
- Coordinate a meaningful first work assignment.
- Identify and contact possible “buddies”.
- Identify and contact possible mentors.
- Order business cards.
- Order company credit cards or set up expense account.
- Order name plate/security pass.
- Order supplies.
- Prepare job standards (Check with HR Team and/or Union Rep).
- Prepare work area/desk; remove signs of previous employee.
- Schedule New Employee Orientation sessions.
- Send internal memo to co-workers announcing new employee’s name, position, arrival date and duties.
- Send welcome letter confirming reporting time, date, and place.
- Send welcome letter.
- Set up an email/Voice mail accounts.
- Set up network id.
As you can see, developing a comprehensive New Employee Orientation Program really is not an over-night or quick solution to your employee retention and engagement challenges but following these checklists and a clear Project Management methodology will make the process far more manageable. And, it really is worth the effort. A well designed and delivered program increases employee engagement and retention. And, increased employee engagement and retention let’s you keep and earn more money.