For instance, according to Mcgillicuddy (1998), "A successful new employee orientation serves not only to answer employees' fundamental questions about health insurance and other benefits, but also to begin the ongoing communications and training that helps employees succeed in their jobs" (p. 551). The intended outcomes of these programs, then, involves not only helping new hires in making the transition to the new organization but establishing a long-term relationship with them as well.
Approaches to Developing and Implementing NEO and On-Boarding Programs
One of the best approaches to developing and implementing these types of new employee orientation programs is to help new hires become self-directed in the process. Therefore, providing new employee with various resources and materials concerning the organization that can help them determine any other information they may require in order to make the orienting and socialization process more self-directed should be supplemented by the following actions on the part of the employer:
1. Identify employees who would benefit from a self-directed orientation. Employees who are not allowed much initiative in carrying out normal job responsibilities may not be good candidates for this type of orientation. The selection process may require the development of alternative materials for a self-directed new employee orientation, while keeping other more directed processes for employees who require closer supervision.
2. Identify what information is most appropriate to provide new hires prior to the first day of work. The more information that can be provided, the easier it will be for the new employee to take the initiative. Information concerning the organization and what it does will be helpful, along with other resources listed herein.
3. Prepare for new employees taking the initiative by conducting a series of planning activities prior to their first day; a number of such activities will provide new employees with the ability to "hit the ground running" and assume the initiative.
4. Determine what type of information is already available and what needs to be developed; in some cases, printed materials may already exist (i.e., annual reports, union contracts, company newsletters, benefit plan information, and employee handbooks). Other information may be available on the organization's intranet or web page. Information that changes periodically can be stored more easily in an electronic format; examples of this type of dynamic information are organization charts and the company's products or services. This allows the new employee access to correct information that is always up-to-date.
5. Provide materials (hard copy or electronic) and a guide for the new employee to access and use them. Make a list of questions for each resource so that the new employee can find value while exploring the resources that are provided. For example, when sending the employee handbook, prepare a list of questions about work practices and rules that can be looked up and answered in various parts of the handbook. When sending benefits information, provide a list of decisions to be made and the due date to file appropriate forms to announce the employee's choices for benefits.
6. Identify and list resource people and how to reach them. Tell how to reach the appropriate people by telephone and e-mail so that these people can answer questions not answered by resource materials; in addition, identify the type of information each resource person can provide.
7. Identify resource people with whom the new employee will interact as a regular part of the job. Instruct new hires to introduce themselves to these employees, set an appointment for an interview, and then interview them. The purpose of the interview is to get off to a good start with co-workers, to clarify expectations, and to set an appropriate tone for future situations when the two will be working together.
8. Have a method to account for the new employee's progress; for instance, new hires can complete a checklist periodically (Ukens, 2001, p. 377)
Potential Barriers to Effective Design and Successful Implementation
There is more to helping a new employee "learn the ropes" and "hit the ground running" as soon as possible than providing a map of the parking lot and an identification card, though. Moreover, there are no "one-size-fits-all" approaches available that can be used by all companies for all employees. In this regard, Bielski (2006) advises, "As you might expect, the jury is out on which approach is best and it probably depends on what matters most to your company. Generally, the trade-offs revolve around speed of integration against the need for a deep set of capabilities in a particular area, such as sales management" (p. 49). Other potential barriers to developing a comprehensive on-boarding and new employee orientation initiative relate to turf and the reluctance to change. As Bielski emphasizes, "The other challenge is political. Figuring out who will sponsor a new human resource application project may be as hard as any head butting of power titans in your organization" (p. 50).
The research showed that new employee orientation and on-boarding are two terms commonly used today to describe the process of helping new hires become familiar and comfortable with their organization in ways that will facilitate their transition and allow them to become as productive as possible as quickly as possible. Based on this author's personal experiences and empirical observations with new organizations and the orientation process, it is reasonable to suggest that many companies have a long way to go to achieve truly effective and comprehensive programs, but there is some solid guidance available to help them accomplish this vital first step in the employer-employee relationship.
Bielski, L. (2006). Seeing the value of employees more clearly. ABA Banking Journal, 98(8),
Dubs, D. (2005). Onboarding part 1: Definition. HR Technology Discussion Board. Retrieved July 11, 2009 http://hrtech.blogspot.com/2005/07/onboarding-part-1-definition.html.