Monday, October 15, 2007

Learning from Employee Orientation

It has not taken much to improve the orientation programs for new employees in many organizations since the standard product has often been boring and uninformative. Fortunately, some creative employers have recognized that employee orientation should not follow the "One Day to Listen to Old Jake Talk About Rules, Benefits, and Ethics" format. Instead, they use a variety of approaches to give new employees time to observe, reflect, and absorb and they check back on the employee's progress.

That latter point, however, is where some firms could use extra polish for the orientation process should be a two-way street. In addition to educating the employee about the job and the organization, orientation can be a great opportunity for employers to learn how a new person sees their workplace. The view from fresh eyes can provide valuable insight into:

  • The clarity - or lack thereof - of various procedures and policies;

  • The smoothness of operations;

  • Special challenges faced by people who are learning the ropes;

  • Problems with technology;

  • The responsiveness of the organization's problem resolution program;

  • The perceptions passed on by more seasoned workers (and whether those are desirable) and;

  • The availability of resources.

Building a two-way street requires time and effort. The employer has to embrace the attitude that the new person can contribute some real insight. Doing so, however, will foster continuing benefits over the years as the older employee keeps practicing the habit of thoughtful observations that started that first day on the job.

1 comment:

Wally Bock said...

Excellent post, Michael. Here, as in so many places, feedback is the breakfast of champions. If you establish a welcoming and communications-rich environment at the outset, my guess is that more good people will wind up staying longer.