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Employee Orientation: Keeping New Employees on Board

How to Provide Effective New Employee Orientation

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Klaus Vedfelt/ Riser/ Getty Images

Orienting employees to their workplaces and their jobs is one of the most neglected functions in many organizations. An employee handbook and piles of paperwork are not sufficient anymore when it comes to welcoming a new employee to your organization.

The most frequent complaints about new employee orientation are that it is overwhelming, boring, or that the new employee is left to sink or swim. The result is often a confused new employee who is not productive and is more likely to leave the organization within a year.

With an ongoing labor crunch, developing an effective employee orientation experience continues to be crucial. It is critical that new hire programs are carefully planned to educate the employee about the values, history and who is who in the organization.

A well thought out orientation program, whether it lasts one day or six months, will help not only in retention of employees, but also in productivity. Organizations that have good orientation programs get new people up to speed faster, have better alignment between what the employees do and what the organization needs them to do, and have lower turnover rates.

 

Purposes of Orientation

Employers have to realize that orientation isn't just a nice gesture put on by the organization. It serves as an important element of the recruitment and retention process. Some key purposes are:

  • To Reduce Startup Costs: Proper orientation can help the employee get up to speed much more quickly, thereby reducing the costs associated with learning the job.

     

  • To Reduce Anxiety: Any employee, when put into a new, strange situation, will experience anxiety that can impede his or her ability to learn to do the job. Proper orientation helps to reduce anxiety that results from entering into an unknown situation, and helps provide guidelines for behavior and conduct, so the employee doesn't have to experience the stress of guessing.

     

  • To Reduce Employee Turnover: Employee turnover increases as employees feel they are not valued, or are put in positions where they can't possibly do their jobs. Orientation shows that the organization values the employee, and helps provide the tools necessary for succeeding in the job.

     

  • To Save Time for the Supervisor: Simply put, the better the initial orientation, the less likely supervisors and co-workers will have to spend time teaching the employee.

     

  • To Develop Realistic Job Expectations, Positive Attitudes and Job Satisfaction: It is important that employees learn as soon as possible what is expected of them, and what to expect from others, in addition to learning about the values and attitudes of the organization.

    While people can learn from experience, they will make many mistakes that are unnecessary and potentially damaging. The main reasons orientation programs fail: The program was not planned; the employee was unaware of the job requirements; the employee does not feel welcome.

Employee orientation is important - orientation provides a lot of benefits, and you can use feedback to make your orientations even better.

Take a look at The Top Ten Ways to Turn Off a New Employee.

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*Dr. Judith Brown is the Sr. Compliance Specialist, Human Resources, National Security Programs at AECOM. Brown has her Masters degree in Human Resource Management and her Doctoral degree from Virginia Tech (May 2010). She enjoys traveling, reading mysteries, dancing and gardening. You can reach her at Judith.Brown@aecom.com or visit their website: AECOM.
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