You’ve added some top talent to the organization and they’ve jumped right into the job. Are you integrating them into your company so that they feel like important team members? Orientation programs, ongoing training and feedback can be valuable tools for both the employee and the company.
“Integration is a key part of making new employees more effective,” says Rob Wilson, president of the Employco Group. “They join the company and don’t know anyone. A good orientation program will help them feel more at ease.”
Smart Business spoke to Wilson about what a company can do to make every new employee feel like a key member of the team.
How important are orientation programs?
Orientation programs are extremely important. A good program is not only informative, it’s also an ice-breaker that welcomes a new employee and integrates him or her into an already established environment that might otherwise be intimidating or overwhelming.
We hire many payroll employees, and they all have experience. They know how to perform the payroll functions, but we need to train them so that they adapt to our system, methodology and corporate culture. It’s imperative that they understand how we do things so they can best respond to our clients. A good orientation program is a great way to achieve that.
What is the purpose of an orientation program?
Orientation programs should educate the employee on the company history, its mission statement, corporate conduct and possibly the individual’s roles and responsibilities. I say ‘possibly’ only because if you have two or three new hires, it makes sense to discuss job descriptions in the orientation. But if you have a large group, say 20 or so, you probably want to keep it more general. Beyond putting a new hire at ease on the first day, an orientation program is a good way for new employees to meet their fellow staff members.
How detailed does an orientation program need to be?
This depends on the size and nature of the company and its business. Many companies do a basic review of employee benefits and the rules and regulations of the work-place. This can be accomplished by following an outline of an employee handbook. Larger companies or those who may be governed by multiple laws might desire a more extensive program to fully cover all aspects of the business.
Should a training program be a part of the orientation or something entirely separate?
It is a little bit of both. The training program is an extension of orientation. Training really focuses on the specific job function and will vary in length and scope, based on the position.
For example, a clerical position may require a ‘softer’ approach that consists of on-the-job interaction with a colleague. On the other hand, a more technical position might require training from a certified training instructor.
Does the function of the company influence how much training is required?
The industry in which the firm operates will dictate the type of training and requirements necessary. A sales organization will train more on customer service, overcoming objections and how to ‘close the deal.’ A chemical company will have to comply with OSHA training requirements, safety and hazardous material training, etc. Financial institutions will train on market conditions, laws, regulations and compliance.
How much training should continue, and is there a set amount of time?
It really needs to be an ongoing process. There will always be new developments, regardless of how experienced the person is in his or her job. Some positions by law require continuing education and recertifications. Other ways to expand or extend your company’s orientation program are through quarterly or semiannual company outings, which also help to build company morale.
How much feedback should be given to employees who have gone through training?
As much as necessary for both the success of the employee and the company. The lines of communication should always be open. If there is a problem, it should be addressed early on before it escalates. Feedback does not always have to wait until the formal annual review to be given. Equally, when an employee is doing something well, encouragement will foster a more positive and productive employee if given on an ongoing basis.
In summary, once you finally find those new employees that you believe can do the job right and benefit your company, you need to orient them on the company that you’ve built. Educate them to get up and running in the shortest amount of time, provide ongoing training to continually grow talent and always keep communicating with both encouraging and critical feedback to positively impact all parties involved.
ROB WILSON is president of Employco Group. Reach him at (630) 286-7345 or firstname.lastname@example.org.