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Thu, Jun 28, 2012

Talent Strategies

Why Employee Orientation Is So Critical

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If you want to help new employees succeed and reduce turnover, you need to have a system in place to welcome them to the job and help them learn everything they need to know, says Emily Bennington, author of “Effective Immediately: How to Fit In, Stand Out, and Move Up at Your First Real Job,” in a Monster Resource Center Video.

“In a lot of small businesses, where everyone is stretched so thin, onboarding tends to be like a game of double-dutch where new employees are expected to just jump in and not screw up,” she explains. “And that’s really unfortunate because a lot of new hires tend to make the decisions about whether they’re going to stay with the organization or not within the first 18 months.”

The fast approach also isn’t good for business because even the best, most qualified new employee will not be able to hit the ground running without sufficient information about your company, its people, its culture and its processes. And if the employee doesn’t work out, you’ll pay the price that comes with rapid turnover.

“If I were a small business owner looking to start or improve an onboarding program, the first thing that I would do is either hire or assign someone to be directly accountable for it,” advises Bennington. “Too much important work can fall through the cracks if no one is responsible for it.”

Next, establish a plan to orient new employees over a reasonable amount of time. Many companies try to cram two years of information into two days of training, but “people just don’t learn that way,” she explains. The best employee orientation programs last six to 12 months and give employees information bit by bit over that time so they can really absorb everything.

A new employee’s direct manager also has an important role to play in the onboarding process, says Bennington. The manager should sit down with the employee and go over the job description and expectations in detail then discuss priorities for the first three months on the job.

“So much of what we come to judge as poor performance really comes down to unclear expectations — so you really want to make sure that you and your new hire are on the same page from day one,” she explains.

Finally, a good onboarding program includes time for new hires to meet their co-workers and vice versa, says Bennington. You can do this by including some social activities into the mix.

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