Employee orientation essential for new hires

Recently hired people need not only training in the responsibilities for their specific jobs, but also an orientation to the policies, customs and expectations required of all employees. Natural retailers have the further responsibility of orienting new workers to the owners’ philosophy of health and nutrition.

Recently hired people need not only training in the responsibilities for their specific jobs, but also an orientation to the policies, customs and expectations required of all employees. Natural retailers have the further responsibility of orienting new workers to the owners’ philosophy of health and nutrition.

Research in adult education shows that people are most open to learning in the first few days on the job, even the first few hours of the first day. This is the best opportunity you’ll ever have to pass on a positive vision of your organizational culture. Yet all too often, under pressure of running shorthanded, management throws new workers out on the floor without an orientation. Not only does this leave them feeling inadequate and uncomfortable, but they may be exposed, in their impressionable first hours, to the more burned-out or low- performing people on staff, who might pass on a different vision of the workplace.

As a form of orientation, a lot of small businesses rely on written materials. This is a mistake. Most of us don’t retain lengthy written information if we read it at all. It takes a face-to-face meeting to welcome new employees. Since many get uncomfortable sitting still while being told a lot of information, convey some facts while walking around the building, pointing things out.

People learn best when given “the big picture,” a sense of where they fit in. However, throwing a lot of information at a new worker all at once is overwhelming and counterproductive. It helps to give new employees, as well as the orienter, a checklist of topics to be covered, to have a sense of where they are in the process. It also helps to deliver orientations in three phases.

The basics

At the latest, this first phase should take place at the beginning of the first day on the job; ideally, the day before the job starts. Examples of basics: where to keep personal items, location of bathrooms, parking, when to expect the first paycheque, time-keeping records, break time and lunch, cell phone use, making personal food purchases. Safety should be part of the basics: what to do in case of an accident; location of fire extinguishers, fire escapes and first aid boxes; how to lift to avoid back strain.

Personnel policies

This phase should occur no later than the first week on the job. Of course you’ll give out your policy handbook, but review certain important policies in person, such as: time off requests, raise opportunities, evaluation criteria, benefits eligibility and expectations for punctuality and attendance. Some businesses give employees an open-book quiz on the personnel policies before the end of the trial period, to ensure they grasp the most important points.

The business

Here you introduce the mission, history, products and customers. This phase could involve several sessions, starting during the first month. There’s no substitute for a sincere personal statement from the company owner(s). If your company is large and does frequent hiring, you could meet with new employees in groups. Discuss expectations for customer relations, who your customers are, and how the business serves them. Cover your product philosophy, an understanding of “natural” and “organic,” your position on GMO’s, and how you choose your suppliers. Purchasers could give short presentations featuring actual products, with samples.

Scheduling orientations, and sticking to the schedule, is a logistical challenge. If a new person’s supervisor or co-workers continually delay giving time away from the job for orientation sessions, or if the orienter allows a lot of interruptions, the unspoken message is that organization doesn’t really value the information being transmitted.

One person orienting all new workers makes for consistency. If it’s not the owner or general manager, designate someone well organized with a friendly demeanor toward the new employee even during a hectic day. •

FavoriteLoadingAdd to favorites
By |March 18th, 2013|Categories: Articles, External Articles|Tags: |

Leave A Comment