Fitting In: From “On Staff” to “In the Know”
After performing your best Donald Trump impersonation, do you wonder what to do next? And after that do you have trouble retaining your employees longer than the first few months after they are hired?
An effective orientation system smoothly incorporates a new employee into an organization and can increase employee retention by 25 percent. It is an opportunity for an organization to make a first impression on a new employee – a step that is equally as important as the first impression that employee made on you.
An effective orientation also entrenches new employees into an organization. This is often either overlooked or insufficient time is given to allow for full entrenchment (good orientation programs can last up to six months).
Characteristics of a successful employee orientation include:
• The achievement of pre-defined goals by end of orientation
• Celebration of an employee’s first day and acknowledgement of end of orientation
• Involvement of coworkers in orientation activities
• Tasks are designed so new employees can be productive on their first day
• It is not boring, rushed or overwhelming
• Feedback from previous orientations is considered in order to constantly improve the process
An effective and efficient orientation does not just impact an employee’s initial contentment and motivation; it also impacts continued engagement and performance.
An effective employee orientation program allows a new employee to enter an organization’s workforce and culture as seamlessly as possible. The employee should then mold into the type of worker that produces desired performance outcomes as demanded by that organization. This process is called organizational socialization.
There is a direct correlation between the level of socialization an organization fosters and the behaviour a new individual exhibits. This means that the sooner a new employee feels valued, relied upon and part of a team, the sooner that employee will perform to the levels desired by the organization.
Many organizations make the mistake of assuming that desired behaviours result from a new employee simply adopting the organizational values. This is not the case. Proper levels of socialization can only be achieved when new employees see that present employees consistently demonstrate the organization’s desired values and behaviours and that it is possible for new employees to do so as well without compromising their own beliefs.
This process of organizational socialization takes place over three stages:
1. Anticipatory Socialization
This stage serves as an introduction where realistic expectations for the employee are determined and the employee considers working for the new organization.
Potential new employees need clear information on expectations that will be placed on them, what their role will be within the organization and how the organization will help develop their KSA’s (Knowledge, Skills and Abilities).
Here, the employee makes a formal commitment to join the organization. The employee is introduced, establishes working relationships with coworkers and receives help interpreting and learning new information.
This is where new employees initially see whether or not the current employees demonstrate values and behaviours that are desired by the organization. Suffice to say that if the present employees do not, neither will the new employees. During this stage the employees gains a greater understanding of their role within the organization. The employees can experience three negative situations: role overload, where expectations are unreasonable; role conflict, which occurs when the employees face unclear expectations; and role ambiguity, which is felt when the role itself is unclear. Managing the employees’ experiences here is crucial to effective orientation.
3. Change and Acquisition
If the organizational socialization is successful, the employee accepts group norms and values and masters tasks. Any role overload, conflict or ambiguity is addressed and resolved.
At this point, it will be quite evident whether or not the organizational socialization process has been effective. If it has, the employee has the potential to live up to standards and expectations; otherwise they will not be motivated nor engaged and may already be looking for a new job.
See the Results
Employee orientation results in tangible outcomes that can be easily monitored with a close eye and proper communication. New employees want to seamlessly be sewn into an organization’s social fabric and feel productive, valued and important.
With an effective employee orientation program, your organization will grow stronger with the addition of new, fresh workers. You will even be able to coin your own catchphrase: “You’re hired, you’re happy and you’re staying!”