Is Orientation Really Necessary?

Gina Deveney
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For busy human resources professionals, a lengthy onboarding process can seem like a waste of time and resources. Many businesses reduce employee orientation to a bare minimum, offering a little more than a cursory introduction to the company. According to research, however, an effective orientation process can have long-term benefits for both employees and organizations.

Starting a new job can be confusing and stressful for employees, and an employee orientation helps provide both answers and direction. Professionals who are hired from outside of a company take an average of 20 weeks to achieve full productivity. In comparison, internal hires — who are already oriented to the company — take an average of 12 weeks. By providing a proper employee orientation, you can make it easier for new employees to get up to speed in less time. By reducing wasted time, you can save the company money.

A new employee forms powerful impressions during the first few days on the job — impressions that can last throughout the person's tenure with the company. According to a study from the Aberdeen Group, 89 percent of new hires feel that they don't have the information they need to complete their job duties, indicating that companies are not providing ample orientation. When an employee doesn't have a place to sit or receives no introduction to the company's time-tracking system, it can create an enduring bad feeling. At the very least, an employee orientation can build a framework of understanding that helps workers feel more comfortable and grounded.

The employee orientation process doesn't need to include long, boring informational sessions. Instead, human resources professionals can develop a custom program that suits the company's needs and resources. Use the company's social networking groups to welcome and engage new workers ahead of their start dates; this basic digital interaction can break the ice in advance. During the in-person orientation, keep new hires engaged by conducting facility tours that increase familiarity. Make a point to introduce the employees around to create recognition, and encourage existing staff members to reach out. When everyone in the company plays a part in orienting new colleagues, the process becomes more effective.

In many organizations, orientation is a one-day event that overloads employees with information. By the end of the day, many workers are confused and exhausted. A more effective strategy is to offer a longer orientation that stretches over days or even weeks. After the initial session, arrange for new workers to spend two hours each day on orientation-related activities. Regular meetings give workers the chance to ask questions and learn about company operations.

For most companies, employee orientation can play an important role in turnover and long-term performance. By making an effort to develop a cohesive and engaging plan, you can help new hires fit in to the company quickly.


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