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Employee orientation is perhaps one of the most neglected human resource functions in most companies. Providing new employees with a company manual and tons of documents is insufficient in terms of welcoming new employees to the company (Brown, n.d).
Most of the time, new employees complain about a completely boring orientation or that they are left in the dark. As a result, the employee becomes confused and unproductive and will probably leave the company in a year’s time (Brown, n.d).
This paper will first take a look at the definition of orientation as well as its functions. It will likewise provide some facts and figures related to employee orientation. Finally, it will present salient points to support the statement: An orientation is an important aspect of HR training.
What is an Orientation?
New employee orientation is the act of welcoming recruits into the organization. In most instances, the orientation program is facilitated by the Human Resources Department. It provides information about safety, the working conditions, the job responsibilities, benefits and qualifications, corporate culture, history of the company, the organization structure, and other vital information needed in the company (Heathfield, n.d).
In most cases, the new employee is introduced to each of the department of the organization. The new hiree usually undergoes an on-the-job training (OJT) to become acquainted with the functions of each department in the company (Heathfield, n.d).
Purposes of Orientation
New employee orientation involves more than just introducing benefits and welcoming the new employee to other workers. Orientation is a make or break period for the new hirees. Orientation programs conclude the hiring process and ushers in the start of retention (Heathfield, n.d).
Orientation programs are not just about laying the cards down on the table. It provides an important phase of the recruitment and retention process. The vital purposes of employee orientation are (Heathfield, n.d):
1. Proper orientation can help lessen expenses in order for an employee to learn about their job (Heathfield, n.d).
2. Orientation programs can help lessen the anxiety of the new employee. Through orientation, the new employee need not guess about what should be done (Heathfield, n.d).
3. Employee turnover is likely if there is no feeling of job security on the part of the employees. An orientation program is an indication that the organization treasures their employees and is keen on helping them succeed in their jobs (Heathfield, n.d).
4. Orientation programs likewise give supervisors and managers more time for their work because they no longer need to spend time to train their new employees (Heathfield, n.d).
5. Proper orientation provides employees a framework of what is expected of them. It gives them a realistic overview of their job responsibilities (Heathfield, n.d).
The Stages of Orientation Programs
There are various methods used by companies in attracting new employees to their fold. Providing nice compensation package is a vital component of bringing in new employees to a certain company but then again it does not assure retention. In fact, according to new technologies in the workplace, effective orientation is actually the best means of reducing the time it would take for new employees to improve their productivity and increase the possibility that they would not leave the company and seek for greener pastures (Award Staffing, 2007).
There are three basic stages of orientation namely general, department, and job-specific orientation. Each phase of the program contains key components which are aimed at providing the best results (Award Staffing, 2007).
This phase of the orientation program is conducted by a personnel from the human resources department and must be completed by new employees of a company. The aim of general orientation is to welcome new employees, make them feel at ease with the workplace and make them aware of the different communication channels (Award Staffing, 2007).
While the general orientation provides complete information, the department level orientation is more specific. The aim of this phase is to provide the new employee with knowledge about what they will be their roles and job in the department where they will be assigned. The person in charge of this orientation is the head of the department where the new employee would be stationed (Award Staffing, 2007).
The department orientation gives the new employee the chance to get to know the members of the department (Award Staffing, 2007).
The goals of the department orientation is to help the new employee become familiar with their department such as its relation to other departments, area of concentration, and the location of the job-related requirement in the area (Award Staffing, 2007).
The last phase of the orientation program highlights the expectations and requirements of the employee in order to fit in to the job. It should be conducted by an expert in the main responsibilities of a position and can teach new employees the skills that are required to become successful in their job assignments (Award Staffing, 2007).
The Importance of Orientation Program
Although companies provide handbooks and manuals, employees still feel confused, overwhelmed, and unwelcome. When this happens, employees begin to cast doubts on the sincerity of the firm and their decision to leave their old company. Here are some of the common mistakes of companies when it comes to new employee orientation (O’Toole, n.d).
• Delighting the new employees with statistics, names, and faces integrated into a single session.
• Showing boring video
• Providing long lectures
• Failure to make preparations for the arrival of the new employee
The importance of an employee orientation program cannot be discounted. Just as clients want to be treated well by a certain company, the same treatment is expected by new employees from their new company and co-workers. Here are some reasons why new employee is very important.
1. Good orientation programs can increase the retention capability of a firm. New employees have the habit of evaluating the commitment of their future employers within the initial three months of their employment.
2. Orientation programs do not end on the day of the event. They extend beyond the initial week of an employee’s tenure in the company. By providing appropriate orientation and training, companies can improve the productivity of their new employees.
3. Well-crafted orientation programs can help build better attitude and morale, and improve work satisfaction.
The Need for an Orientation Program
Several studies have underscored the need for companies to put emphasis on employee orientation.
New Employee Orientation Practitioner Consensus Survey
In a study conducted by the Institute for Corporate Productivity, it was discovered that most companies do not have a new employee orientation program and the main attraction of these firms are branded items bearing the company’s logo. Likewise, the survey revealed that while majority of these companies provide orientation to their new hirees, over one-fifth of these firms do not care to monitor whether the programs are effective (Oakes, 2007).
Jay Jamrog (2007), who is SVP for Research of the company believes that the first few days of a new employee are the most crucial as far as building a positive first impression that results to loyal employees. Firms have the tendency to miss out on the opportunity of impressing new employees as well as pouncing on their strengths and weaknesses.
This fact is something that companies would need to consider when implementing orientation programs (Oakes, 2007).
In addition, the study likewise revealed that 86% of the respondents have established employee orientation programs. Almost half of these programs are conducted in less than a day with 26% concluding their orientation in two or three days. On the aspect of attracting new employees, 54% said that their company relies on handing out items such as pens, folders, binders, etc. while 12% say they do not do anything (Oakes, 2007).
On the aspect of effectiveness of the orientation program, 47% of the respondents said that their company relies on employee feedback, 20% on first-year retention, and 17% monitor the performance ratings. It is odd to note that 22% of the respondents did not monitor the effectiveness of their orientation programs (Oakes, 2007).
Moreover, 81% of companies delegate the task of administering orientation programs to the human resources department, 23% involve several departments, and 21% include the department where the new employee will be assigned (Oakes, 2007).