ROLL OUT THE WELCOME WAGON: EFFECTIVE TOOLS TO INTEGRATE NEW HIRES

With an ongoing labor crunch, developing an effective employee orientation experience is crucial. Many employees make the decision to stay or quit within the first six months of starting out at a new job. By implementing and executing a well thought out orientation program, you will not only help in retaining employees, but you will also be assisting in the productivity of the individual and your company. 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.
On that first day, any new employee has a lot to absorb. Between learning general information about their new work environment and learning their specific task or job, putting a new hire’s mind at ease that first day will not only increase productivity in the long run but also set the tone for what could be a happy, healthy working relationship.
First Impressions are Lasting Impressions
Nearly all employees want to get off to a good start. That good start depends as much on them as it does on the orientation provided by the employer. It is not necessarily dependent upon how much work the person does the first few hours on the job.
Unfortunately, orienting employees to their workplaces and their jobs is one of the most neglected functions in many organizations, and you only have one opportunity to make a good first impression on new employees so make it last. The first day that a new person is on the job provides you
many “teachable moments.”
Simply put, the better the initial orientation, the less likely supervisors and co-workers will have to spend time teaching the employee. Insufficient training may result in a new employee using unacceptable methods and develop bad habits. Orientation and training set the tone for the employee-employer experience.
Every new hire deserves the same treatment their first days on the job, whether they’re young, old, or even a relative or old friend. Orientation is as important for the part-time high school worker as for the new full-time employee. Everyone can benefit from careful orientation.
Try not to bombard a new employee with paperwork—an employee handbook and piles of paperwork are not sufficient anymore when it comes to welcoming a new employee to your organization. Keep the tedium of first-day paperwork to a minimum by postponing as much of it as possible until later
in the first week of employment. A bored “paperwork sergeant” shoving pages and pages of forms at a new employee hardly creates a positive first impression.
A Company’s History Could Shape an Employee’s Future
Orientation is the introduction of a new employee to the industry, the company, the requirements of the job and the social situation in which he or she will be working. The company’s values, history, tradition, and norms of behavior expressed as dos and don’ts are just as important as any new employee’s specific duties of the job. Orientation is socialization, and a new employee who is socialized understands the key points about the company, its people and why things are done in particular ways.
Some employers may think, “I hire people to work, not learn the history of my company.” You will do better with happy, positive, and enthusiastic employees than with people who are just there to do a job and go home. Well-planned and conducted orientation helps people get off to a good start. It increases their chances of being happy with their jobs and positive about you and your business. That opportunity to make a good first impression can never be repeated.
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 is because the program was not planned, the employee was unaware of the job requirements and the employee does not feel welcome.
Implement the Two E’s: Encourage and Ease
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.
Most organizations are great at celebrating the departure of a beloved coworker. Why are we often so awful at welcoming a new one? Have you experienced starting a new job only to have your coworkers and supervisor ignore you during the first week?
Old-fashioned welcome wagons were once used to deliver goodies to new members of a community. You can establish your own “welcome wagon.” Freebies that aid the new hire in his job will reinforce the belief that company employees are glad he is there and want him to succeed. Think about arranging a party to welcome the new employee. Celebrations produce enthusiasm.
Here is the opportunity to convince each new person that he or she is important to you and to the company. Right at the onset, encourage questions, make the employee feel at ease and avoid negative comments about a previous employee.
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.
Orientation should encourage acceptance by other employees. Introductions, informal interaction, a tour of the facilities with short stops to hear people talk about their jobs and history of employment at the company, and opportunity for the new employees to ask questions all can help people gain acceptance.
One recommendation is to save at least 15 minutes at the end of the first week for the last phase of the orientation program. Again, encourage questions. Review progress made during the first week. Outline what will happen during the next few weeks. Send the person home feeling good about being part of your company.  

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