Discovering People


    Issue # 52

    It Pays to Help New Staff Start Right!

    Managers should invest wisely in well-designed staff orientation programs. Effectively orientating your new employees can pay back big dividends in staff retention, employee commitment and customer satisfaction.

    Staff members who are properly trained and welcomed at the beginning of their careers feel good about their choice of employer, fit in quickly with peers and colleagues and readily contribute new ideas. They also speak well about your firm to friends and family. And they represent you more confidently to customers, business partners and suppliers.

    Poor orientation of new employees can cost you dearly. Those who don't start right don't tend to stick around long, either. High staff turnover means you must recruit, train and orientate new staff all over again. Staff turnover also takes a high toll on the morale of those who do stay behind. When people leave your organization, those who remain begin to wonder... should we be looking for new employment, too?

    While many managers will agree that new staff orientation is important, very few invest the time and attention necessary to make sure it's done consistently, and done right. You can consider the following ideas.

    Think long term. - Effective orientation is a gradual process. The initial induction of employees during the first few days is important. It is even more important to make sure new employees fit in and feel comfortable over the longer term. This can mean six weeks for a factory worker, or up to six months for new members of a senior management team.

    A time for everything. Everything in its time. - New employees arrive with basic questions that must be answered quickly: What is the dress code? Where are the tools for my job? How does the telephone system work? When do people eat, meet and get paid?

    After the initial induction period, your employee's questions will change and mature: "How am I being appraised? Why is the system set up this way? How can I (safely) suggest changes? Who can I see for guidance, approval and support?" Don't try to answer all possible questions in the least possible time. Stretch out the process to cover the first weeks or even months on the job. This lets new staff absorb essential information more gradually and completely. An extended orientation program also reassures new employees. Newcomers are always under great pressure to perform and adapt. Your extended program shows you understand their situation, you care about their adjustment, and you will continue to show interest and attention over time.

    Involve everyone in the process. - New employees are not the only ones affected by the quality of your orientation program. Other groups are influenced during this important period as well, including peers, bosses, colleagues, senior managers, customers, suppliers and even the new hire's family back home. Each group has different questions and concerns about the new employee. Address those concerns by giving each group an active role in your overall orientation program. Buddy systems, lunch meetings, panel discussions, site visits, family days - these and other methods can be used to involve diverse groups and individuals in the process.

    The reputation of your Human Resource Department is also at stake. If orientation is well planned and conducted, new employees will see the HR department as a valuable resource for addressing their future concerns. On the other hand, poor staff orientation sends an early message that the HR department is ineffective or out of touch.

    Now is the time to review your staff orientation program. Apply the above ideas to be sure your staff "start right"!

    Prepared by: Michelle Novotny

    Source: Copyright, Ron Kaufman. Visit:

    Please feel free to contact the team at Discovering People if you would like more details on this candidate of the week, if you have any questions, human resources issues to discuss or would like to offer any feedback in regards to this newsletter Ph: 02 9570 2411 or email