It was Rachel’s first day at work at CSystem Pte Ltd and she was very excited about her new role as a Project Manager there. Wanting to set a good impression, she arrived at CSystem office 15 minutes before the start time at 9.00 am but found the main door locked. So, she waited by the door, and someone arrived at 9.15 am and unlocked the door. He looked at her and asked for her purpose of visit. Rachel mentioned that she is starting work and the guy just asked her to take a seat at the reception area and disappeared to the back of the office.
As she sat there, one by one, the employees walked past her into the office, and none greeted or questioned her presence. It was at 10.00 am that a lady came by and asked her if she was Rachel. She replied yes, and the lady introduced herself as Jasmine of HR. She then led her to a small meeting room and handed
over a pile of forms to complete. After taking about 45 minutes to complete all the forms, she was then escorted by Jasmine to meet Anthony, the Project Director in his room.
A quick handshake and a short phrase “hello and welcome” from Anthony, he apologized to Rachel that he had to rush off to attend a meeting in the conference room. Anthony then led Rachel to her workstation and was asked by Anthony to go through the files on the table. He hoped to meet her after the meeting, but he never did as he had to rush out of the office. Rachel felt lost and disappointed at the whole event on her first day at work. She wondered whether she has joined the right company.
Does this sound familiar to you?
If a company wants to retain its employees, it is important that the company must ensure that it always creates a good impression to all new employees on their first day at work as well as their tenure with the company. So, what should the company do to create a good impression on an employee’s first day of work
and during their tenure with the company?
Let me give you my thoughts about some leading practices on On-Boarding including Orientation. On-boarding is a process of integrating a new employee with the company, its culture, and the team. It is also getting the required information, resources and/or tools needed to the new employee and making the new employee a productive member of the team. Please note that on-boarding is not orientation but is a comprehensive process that starts before the new employee joins the company till the employee is confirmed in his/her employment with the company. Sometimes, the on- boarding may be extended beyond the probationary period depending on the complexity of the job. When designing the on-boarding process of the company, it is important that HR answers the following questions:
• When should on-boarding start?
• How long it should last?
• What impression do you want to give to the new employee on the first day?
• What are the things that the new employee must take away upon
completion of the on-boarding process?
• Who is involved in the on-boarding process and what is their role?
Onboarding Prior to Commencement Date
Most companies start their on-boarding process on the first day when the new employee commences work with the company. This is not the right practice. On-boarding should start before the new employee commences work with the company, preferably at least one week or two weeks before the commencement date.
It will be a good practice to send the new employees the forms to complete before he/she commences work with the company. These forms and requested documents such as certificates, photograph, etc. must be returned to HR on the first day of work. It is best to get the administrative or paperwork out of the way before the first day of work so that the employee can have a productive and fruitful day.
This is also a good way to ensure or check that the selected person is still interested in the Company and will not put on a “no-show” on the first day.
At the same time, it is important for HR to coordinate with the various departments such as the new employee’s department, IT department, security department, etc. to set up all the required tools and resources for the new employee before the person starts work.
Examples of preparation work prior to the commencement date of the employee:
- Employee Details Form – to obtain personal details and photo for HRMS
- Bank Account Details Form – to obtain bank account detail for payroll purposes
- HR Management System – set up of employee details in HRMS
- Orientation Bundle – prepare orientation kit such as welcome card or gift, orientation checklist, orientation material, employee handbook, HRMS guide, etc.
- Contract list – telephone or mobile phone number of key personnel in case of emergency
- Computer or laptop (if required)
- Email address (if required)
- Welcome message
- Business system or ERP set-up (if required)
- Conferencing applications set-up (e.g., Zoom, MS Team, Skype, etc.)
- Company’s Wifi Password
- Business cards (if required)
- Job Description
- 90-Days Plan
- Employee badge (if required)
- Uniform (if required)
- Safety – personal protective equipment (if required)
Welcoming Employee on Day 1
The first day of a new employee is critical as new employees tend to have mixed emotions or feelings. They are happy and excited but at the same time, they also feel nervous and anxious. It is the primary responsibility of the HR and the new employee’s manager to ensure that the new employee feels welcome and comfortable on the first day.
Invoking a sense of belonging in the new employees will make them feel more committed and they will be able to focus better on their integration into the organization.
Many companies have an orientation program planned for their new employees on their first day of work that covers lots of information such as the company history, culture, organization structure, product or service information, policies and procedures, processes, job responsibilities, administrative details, etc. This often causes the new employees to feel that their first day has become tortuous as they get overloaded with too much information which they are expected to understand and remember. The result is that the new employees become more frustrated, confused, and lose confidence in their integration with the rest of the team and organization.
So, what impression do you want to give to the new employee on the first day? How long should the orientation program be or last? What are the things that the new employee must take away upon completion of the orientation program?
These are questions that you must answer when planning or developing your orientation program for new employees.
The first day for the new employees must be memorable and not overwhelming with too much information and expectation. A well-thought-out orientation program should help new employees get up to speed and align with the company’s values and expectations.
Since the first impression is crucial, here are some tips for putting the best foot forward.
1. Share the agenda of the orientation program
As new employees are both anxious and excited, it will be good for organizations to pre-inform the new employees of their orientation program schedule before their first day of work. By communicating the orientation program schedule to the new employees, they will now know what is expected of them and are better prepared.
Do remember that the orientation program is not about an employee handbook and piles of paperwork to complete, nor should it be overloaded with too much information for new employees to absorb within a day. The most frequent complaints about such orientation programs are that they are boring, overwhelming and that many new employees are left to sink or swim.
Hence, it will be good to have an orientation program that is spread over a few days and the orientation program should instill fun so that it is easier for new employees to learn. One way of having fun in an orientation program is to play games and activities such as quizzes.
2. Surprise the new employees – the WoW factor
In the past, organizations will organize lunch treats to welcome new employees. However, with the competition for talents, many organizations are now surprising their new employees with a WoW factor on their first day such as small welcome gifts (T-shirt, personalized notebook, flowers, or box of chocolate, etc). Some even organize welcome parties and take photographs of new employees enjoying their first moments in the company.
3. Focus on the important topics first
The purposes or objectives of the orientation program are:
- To reduce anxiety in a new environment – anxiety impedes the ability to learn to do the job. Proper orientation should help reduce anxiety, provide guidelines for behavior and conduct, and eliminate the stress of guessing.
- To reduce employee turnover and any misunderstanding and/or grievances in future – employee turnover will increase if employees do not feel valued or are put in jobs where they do not understand the duties and responsibilities. Orientation should help new employees understand the organisation’s values and their job responsibilities as well as provide the tools and resources necessary to succeed their jobs.
- To build employees’ confidence speedily for early contribution to job responsibility – it is important that employees learn as soon as possible what is expected of them on the job and what to expect from others. When they are unaware of their job responsibilities and requirements, they will feel stressed and unwelcome.
- To help employees integrate and build identity quickly with the organisation – learning more about the Company’s history, vision, mission, and values will help new employees develop a positive attitude and realistic expectations about the company.
- To save time and reduce costs – the better the orientation, the less likely that managers and co-workers will have to spend time teaching the new employee. At the same time, proper orientation will help companies to reduce costs associated with errors or mistakes made by new employees, employee turnover, rehiring, training, and many others.
So, it is important that during the orientation program, to focus on the important topics and areas that will achieve the above objectives of the orientation program. Some of the important topics and areas to cover during the orientation program are:
- Welcome Speeches
- Company’s Information
- statements – vision, mission, and values
- background – history and milestones
- background – history and milestones
- organizational structure and key personnel
- HR Policies & Procedures
- HR policies
- fringe benefits
- performance management & opportunities
- learning & development
- grievance procedure
- harassment policies
- code of conduct
- Financial Policies & Controls
- approving authority and limits
- expenses claim
- IT Policies & Controls
- hardware and software
- applications and social media
- General Administrative Matters
- office layout & evacuation route
- office security
- office equipment and supplies
- Product or Service Knowledge & Training
- Job Responsibilities
- office layout & evacuation route
- duties & tasks
- objectives/goals – 30 days, 60 days and 90 days
4. Assignment of Buddy
Always assign a buddy preferably from the same department to show the new employee around, share an introduction, answer the new employee’s queries or questions, explain policies or processes, as well as guide the new employee on his/her daily work. The buddy must be a senior servicing employee who is deemed by others as a role model with a good work attitude and conduct.
The buddy must be briefed on his/her responsibilities and given sufficient notice and resources to perform the role of a buddy. This relationship should last for 30 days to 90 days to ensure that the pair makes a good connection.
Integration in the Organization
After the orientation program, the manager of the new employee must conduct an integration session to establish if the new employee has integrated into the organization. This session is usually done at the end of the probationary period or 90 days after joining, whichever is earlier.
During this integration session, the manager will carry out the followings:
- Assess the employee is competent in his/her job,
- Meets his/her goals set for the 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days,
- Works well with his/her colleagues, and
- Displays the right attitude and values expected by the Company.
The manager must be aware if the new employee is productive in his/her job and is able to contribute fully to the organization.
At the same time, it is through such sessions that the manager and the new employee discuss the following:
- Set new work goals/objectives for 180 days and 360 days,
- Resources or tools needed to perform or better perform his/her job,
- Learning and development plan to improve the new employee’s areas of weaknesses in his/her work performance, and
- Feedback from the new employee about the job and ideas or suggestions to improve the work processes in his/her job.
Last Stage of On-boarding: Follow-Up
The last stage of the on-boarding process, which is just as important, is to follow up with the employee and obtain feedback on his/her view of the on-boarding process, his/her work, the teams, and any other areas that will help the organization to improve.
The manager must constantly conduct follow-up and engagement sessions with the new employee on a regular basis even if everything is well with the new employee.
A good on-boarding process shows the time and effort that was put into the process by various stakeholders in the organization. Therefore, all stakeholders to take time to engage the new employees from their first day to year after year.
Only through constant and regular communication with one another that the mutual understanding and relationship between stakeholders will improve and motivate everyone to help the organization progress and do well.