Orientation and Onboarding: Your Sink-or-Swim Strategy Is a Terrible Waste of Talent
In today’s blog, let’s consider the orientation process. I see organizations investing heavily in getting the right people hired, but then failing to introduce, immerse, and train them correctly to support the talent’s future success. Many companies or departments adopt a sink-or-swim strategy, whereby they throw new people onto the front line – if they swim, then great, but if they sink, then the company just moves onto the next hire. This is a terrible waste of talent.
Research suggests that an employee’s start to a company is a critical part of the overall employee experience affecting retention, performance, and productivity. So ask yourself, how much of your high annual turnover and performance issues can be avoided by introducing your new people to your company in a way that orients and integrates them?
Before we get started, it is important to differentiate between orientation and onboarding:
- Orientation takes place on the first day or two.
- Onboarding occurs in the first 30-60 days as you get staff trained and certified to perform in a new role.
Today, our focus is on the orientation – what the first day or two on the job should look like.
When I worked with The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, then CEO Horst Schulze would remind us that an employee’s first day is when they are most open to change. What they experience on that day orients them to the priorities of the company. So, what priorities do you communicate?
- Do you have new hires complete a lot of paperwork, thus making paperwork a priority?
- Do you review pages of rules, which imply that rules are a priority?
- Do you put your new hires to work on day one, indicating that completing tasks are the most important priority?
- Or, do you deliver a great first impression that focuses on the right things, such as introducing your brand, culture, and customers?
What are the right things? For me, the first thing to introduce is the brand. Specifically, this refers to what you do, whom you serve, and what makes your business unique. It is important to involve your marketing team in this overview, which should excite your new staff about the brand.
Provide a history lesson of the company, highlighting key facts, ownership, and key executives. I think this is a great opportunity to involve the owners or senior executives to set the stage with your new people. New hires begin to set a sense of belonging and their role in where the company is going.
Next, introduce your customers and what their expectations are of the company and staff. I like to introduce some high-level service skills and the mindset required. After all, for most organizations, customer service is an important priority.
Finally, ensure you provide a detailed introduction to the values of the company. In a previous blog, I discussed how values are more than some philosophical B.S. Values should define how staff act and interact with each other, their customers, the community, and the company itself. For me, this is where the most time should be spent on day one.
I know you will still have a need (and want) to do paperwork and review rules as part of the new hire’s introduction, but try and keep that until day two or move these tasks online, whereby they can be completed prior to their important day one experience.
Commit to making day one something your new employees will talk about, or even rave about! Set the stage for what you hope your new staff will do with your customers so that they understand what the real priorities are for the business. Make your new employees’ first day an experience and then spend the onboarding process, which we will review in my next blog, on how to deliver a great experience to your customers.
Thanks for reading my blog. If you’d like a comprehensive look at the Culture Hacker Methodology, then check out my book on Amazon or on Barnes & Noble. Also, for best practices and insights from today’s cutting-edge leaders in company culture, check out the Culture Hacker Podcast on iTunes.
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