Successful Employee Orientation (Part 2)
by Christina Morfeld

There is an inclination for corporate orientations, generally delivered by an organization's Human Resources department, to focus on completing required paperwork and distributing benefits information. While certainly important, meetings of this nature tend to be boring and demotivating. Employers, instead, should seize this opportunity to celebrate the arrival of their new team member(s) and communicate that employees are their most valuable asset. You may even wish to handle the mundane form-filling activities separately in order to foster this "pep rally" environment.

Invite a senior person in the organization to welcome the new employees and reinforce the message that their contributions will be appreciated. Also consider having other staff members - either veteran employees or those who themselves were "new kids on the block" in the recent past - share their own experiences. Testimonials, naturally, have greater credibility than an HR representative giving what could easily be interpreted as the "company line."

Communicate the organization's understanding that starting a new job can be a scary thing. Make it clear to the participants that they will be fully supported in their efforts to become comfortable with - and successful in - this new environment. Encourage them to get know each other so that they can call on someone "in the same boat" if ever they feel the need. Having food available, whether breakfast bagels, lunch sandwiches, or mid-afternoon snacks, also tends to lessen the formality of the meeting and break the ice a bit.

Because individual learning styles and attention spans vary, you should design an orientation program that is as multi-sensory and interactive as possible. Avoid talking at the new hires; instead, supplement "lecture" with slide shows, product demonstrations, group activities, and fun quizzes and contests.

Some specific topics that should be covered in a corporate orientation program are:

  • Company history, products and services, and financial and sales data

  • Clients and competitors, including how the organization sets itself apart in the marketplace

  • Corporate mission and goals

  • Organizational structure
    • Interrelationship between the various departments
    • Names of the individuals who lead each of these areas

  • Company culture
    • Management style
    • Dress code
    • Emphasis on teamwork, group problem-solving, diversity, quality, and open communication

  • Commitment to work/life balance, including any flexible work arrangement policies that may be in place

  • Career development opportunities, including available training courses, mentoring programs, tuition assistance plans, and "hire from within" policies

  • Explanation of the company's performance evaluation system

  • Overview of organizational policies related to equal opportunity, non-discrimination/non-harassment, health and safety, and vacation and holidays

  • Company events and activities, such as sports teams, clubs, and holiday parties

  • Facility tour

In addition to providing the above information, it is recommended that you distribute handouts as well. Consider putting together a kit that includes the following:

  • Company literature

  • A map of the building

  • An organizational chart

  • A list of local restaurants, shops, banks, post offices, daycare centers, dry cleaners, etc.

  • A glossary of industry- or company-specific terminology and acronyms

  • A list of internal contacts for inquiries related to payroll, benefits, technical support, etc

  • Instructions for accessing the company intranet and operating email, voicemail, etc.

  • A catalog of current training offerings

  • A comprehensive employee handbook that details company policies, procedures, and standards

    Note
    : It is strongly recommended that you require new hires to submit a signed acknowledgement that they have received, read, and understand its contents.

Build time into the program for a question-and-answer session. As some employees may feel uncomfortable talking in front of the group, be sure to communicate your availability to answer questions and provide assistance at any time during their tenure with the company.

Distribute an evaluation form at the end of the orientation. Stress that honest responses are appreciated so that future sessions can be modified accordingly. Again, make it clear that their feedback is welcome at any time.

Conclude by reiterating how excited the organization is that the participants have joined, and express your confidence that it will be a mutually rewarding relationship.


Christina Morfeld is president of Affinity Business Communications, a provider of high-quality instructional design, technical writing, and content development solutions. Whether writing to instruct, inform, or persuade, our work is reader-focused, benefits-oriented, and results-driven. Contact us at 203-445-9964 or info@affinitybizcomm.com, or visit our website at http://www.affinitybizcomm.com to learn how we can increase your firm's sales and effectiveness!

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Copyright 2002 - 2003 - Christina Morfeld and Affinity Business Communications, LLC.
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