A Missed Opportunity For Engagement by Anonymous

Close-up of two white pieces of chalk on blackboard So you spent money on recruiting and advertising your open positions. Staff members have spent hours reviewing resumes, conducting phone screenings and hosting face to face interviews. You’ve selected your top candidates, sent them their official offer letters and processed them through HR’s new hire paperwork. Candidates have passed their background check and drug screens, and FINALLY they are scheduled to arrive for new hire orientation. Job well done!

But wait… is the job done? No, I’d say it’s just begun. That was just warm-up for the big event, New Hire Orientation. Recently, I sat in on a new hire orientation and left with one thought, “What a missed opportunity!” Here’s why.

This particular company does not hold new hire orientation in their main building, but a side building used by facilities. The entrance is plain, hallway walls are marked up by years of packages coming and going, no decorations, and it has an industrial feel. As we enter we are asked by the HR representative to begin filling out paperwork provided in our binders. The binders are 2 inches thick, no tabs, and contains policies that we are told won’t be reviewed in detail, and we should just read them on our own time later. Two hours into the day, as we wait for a late director scheduled to train us, the HR rep needs tries to fill the down time so she asks us to make introductions. There are 15 new hires in the room and we finally have a chance to meet each other. I sat there thinking, “better late than never”.

The Executive Director is out for the day so another director comes to cover the section that is supposed to give us the background on the company. She arrives, speaks for 5 minutes, and leaves again. Later, during another presentation a director his uses a sarcastic tone as he makes a few disparaging comments about corporate management.

As various directors come and go to “do their part”, I keep thinking, anytime now we are going to learn about the history of the company, their current services, how the various departments work together to support the client experience, and how the parent company contributes to the mission and vision of the organization.

It never came. Eight hours and not once did the training day meet my need to feel as if I was joining an organization I could feel passionately about contributing to! I never did learn how all the various departments worked together, much less how the individuals in the room would contribute towards the greater vision and mission of the company.

I left feeling that this organization could benefit from enhancing their new hire orientation. The following day I sat down with the CEO and we talked about my experience observing their new hire training methods. We left agreeing the day could be enhanced, perhaps the team could start with a round of introductions, sharing what brings each new hire to the company and what motivates them to join the industry. Paperwork could be organized and presented in a way that follows the order of the training topics so employees aren’t having to hunt around and struggle to follow the flow of the day. Binders could have tabs to make sections clear and user friendly. Breaks and snacks could be thoughtfully planned and presented in a way that highlights how the company values healthy habits. Presenters should be selected who are good ambassadors for the company as they leave a first impression and it should be a positive one.

I’d recommend executives take a day to sit in on their company orientation sessions with fresh eyes and ears. I know you will find areas that could be improved and bring real value to your employees and your company culture. After all, orientation is the start of what could be a lasting impression of the company.