Onboarding: Employee Orientation Beyond Sink or Swim

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Onboarding: Employee Orientation Beyond “Sink or Swim”
Why current orientation programs are failing corporate America, and what to do about it.

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mployee Orientation. Despite all efforts to the contrary, it often comes down to this: a recently overhauled employee orientation program makes use of the company’s high quality marketing handouts. The program’s knowledgeable, personable presenter uses good visuals like computer slides and is enthusiastic about what he writes on the easel. After the morning presentation, employees take a guided tour of the company, and go home at the end of Day One with their new (if somewhat wordy) employee handbook, securely tucked away for future reference. Yet these new employees go home and tell their families they’re not sure they made the right decision. They are apprehensive, overwhelmed, and feel dramatically like outsiders. Of course, the orientation program described here was developed with great intentions, but in today’s hypercompetitive recruiting environment, intentions are not enough to maintain sought-after talent. There are 3 basic reasons that orientation programs fall short of their goals: lack of planning, disillusionment about the position itself and employees who feel that they simply “don’t fit” the company. Today, attracting qualified workers includes offering higher salaries, better benefits, improved training, and advancement opportunities. With these increased costs, it’s no wonder retention has become the focus of so much attention lately. Indeed, orientation efforts have been elevated to a high priority in many companies in an effort to reduce turnover rates in excess of 25%. The effort has even been given a new name – employee onboarding – to encompass not just the first few days of a new employee’s career, but a mainstreaming process that can take up to a year to complete. Unfortunately, this process is often neglected. Done poorly, the employee orientation program can leave new employees wondering

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