For each and every one of us, having to go through our first day in a new place of work could prove to be a rather overwhelming experience. For example, a new employee is not only undecided on what they need to wear during this first day in order to look presentable, but they are also concerned about whether or not they shall manage to arrive at the office on time. Moreover, an employee is expected to encounter different faces as well as different names. The least that they can expect therefore is to encounter at their new place of work an orientation program that is poorly designed. In order that new employees at the place of work may start on a sound note, it is mandatory that they get exposed to an orientation program that is formal in nature. Those organizations that have efficient orientation programs have come to the realization that common sense, along with a little creativity, goes a long way into ensuring that the orientation program for new employees is less overwhelming. Furthermore, formal orientation programs help to boost the morale of the organization, enhance the employee retention rate, and in due course, the organization’s bottom line. This is a clear testament of the fact that “formal orientation programs are effective in retaining and motivating employees, reducing turnover, and increasing productivity”
Orientation is a term used in reference to that process that gets new employees acquainted with an organization in question, the work units of such new employees, as well as their jobs (Ragsdale & Mueller, 2005, p. 268). Formal orientation programs are the processes through which new employees in an organization are assimilated. They learn about the culture, the dealings as well as the specifics of their jobs. The training is aimed at helping the new employee to adapt to new roles, jobs, and culture (Dorris, 2002, p.67).
Max (2000, par. 4) observes that the first few weeks in a new job is the time when the new employees get the attitude towards the job, colleagues, the seniors and the organization as a whole. Over the long term this introductory phase is determines whether the employee decides to stay or quits. In this regard, companies are increasingly improving their working environment to new employees.
DeCapua (2008, p. 2) stipulates some major hindrances to formal orientation program. She argues that some hirers feel that they are not able to dedicate resources in terms of time and money to this program. Smaller companies are the most affected. However, the training depends on the company’s size and resources. A small company may dedicate just a week to the training while a big international company may dedicate several months involving trips abroad and even hotel expenses.
Benefits of Formal orientation programs
An orientation program could be viewed as “effective as the primary or predominate mode for inculcating values, enhancing critical thinking, and encouraging individual participation” (Ragsdale & Mueller, 2005, p. 268). The authors have summarized the issue of a formal orientation program by asserting that in order that it may be successful, an orientation program for new employees requires being also interactive, though-provoking, comprehensive, as well as creating an environment that would enable the new employees to assimilate the standards and cultural values of the organization (Ragsdale & Mueller, 2005, p. 268). Separately Hacker (2004) has sought to provide the fundamental elements of a formal orientation program. Ideally, orientation ought to be a process that is on-going. This process start when potential employees are recruited ,then selected, and moves on for the entire first years of the employees at their place of work it is a common trend amongst a majority of the successful organizations to match and mix colleagues and mentors with new employees (p. 91).
A quasi-experimental research looking at the impact of attending a new employee training program was conducted incorporating six dimensions of socialization. The dimensions were measured before the training and two months after training for a 116 new employees in various fields. The results showed that those who attended the training were better acquainted on the history, values and people in the organization than those who did not attend. It was hence clear that the orientation gave the result Dorris (2002, p. 69).
Indeed most managers agree that orientating new employees with the new workplace, the new jobs and the new work entities. The orientation helps in facilitating learning, lowering staff turnover, retaining and motivating employees, improving productivity and alleviating anxiety. The more the time spent in assisting the new employee the more welcome they feel. This inevitably enables the employees to easily connect with the company hence become more beneficial members ( Robbins& Randall, 2002, par. 3).
Regarding the role played by a formal orientation program, Ragsdale and Mueller (2005) opine that “new employees need to be introduced to the structure, culture, and standards of the hiring facility” (p. 268). When employees receive the necessary information during orientation, they are best placed to not only know what the organization expects from of them but also what they could anticipate to get from the organisation. There is the possibility of organizations overloading the new employees with a lot of information during the orientation process. As a result, Hacker (2004, p. 91) argues that a leading purpose of an organization’s orientation program is to provide a better explanation regarding the duties and roles of the organization, and not to overload them with information. This way, chances are that the new employees may become committed to the company in question, in effect adding to its productivity.
A research connected to work withdrawal and employee commitment has been carried out by Kammeyer- Mueller and Wanberg (2003, p. 779). The study that was longitudinal by design entailed a total of 1,532 participants. The participants had just been hired various companies. These subjects, who had been hired to occupy various white-collar job positions, were surveyed twice. The first survey took place on the first month of their hiring. Subsequent surveys were carried out every four months. A fundamental finding of this study was that employee role clarity bore a correlation with not only the commitment of employees, but also their withdrawal. Other than role clarity, we also have additional components that play a pivotal role in as far as the process of employee orientation is concerned.
It is the position of McKersie (2003) that employees are usually introduced to “the company’s long-term goals, key projects in progress, the organizational structure and how the new employee’s role contributes to the overall strategy for success” (p. 1). On the other hand, it is unnecessary to bombard new employees with even the minutest details regarding an organization (Hacker, 2004, p. 92). It can be expected that new employees shall always have many unanswered questions regarding the organisation that they would want the management to address. Accordingly, a lot more organizations may very well look forward to these concerns, if only to hasten the process of having the new employees on board (Parry, 2005).
How are Formal orientation programs effective in retaining and motivating employees?
When an organisation decides to bring on board a new employee, the expectation would be that such an employee would immediately start making a contribution to the organization in question in the shortest time possible (McKersie, 2003, p. 1). Nonetheless, there is the need to ensure that such an organisation also is in a position to provide the resources that such an employee needs in order that they may fully utilize their skills to the benefit of self, as well as to that of the organization. Formal orientation enables new employees to adapt well to the new working environment. This is important, because the sooner they are able to adapt to such an environment in a comfortable manner, the sooner too, that they shall also start making a positive contribution to the same organisation.
Perhaps the one question that we need to explore at this point is, of what benefit is an orientation program to the employees? At this point, there is a need to appreciate the fact that when employees are well informed on the positions that they occupy within an organisation, the policies of such an organisation, as well as the administrative information within the organization, this enables them to now have a focus more on the roles that they are expected to perform within the organisation, as opposed to having to worry to much over details that at best, can only be regarded as being extraneous. Moreover, a good orientation program enables the new employees to experiences a sense of belonging. This can only happen at a time when the employees have been exposed to a sound orientation program at their new place of work. According to Ragsdale and Mueller (2005, p. 269), those employees that have been exposed to a sound orientation program at their place of work have been seen to become more productive as opposed to their counterparts that have not received a proper orientation, or none at all. The reason behind this is that a good formal orientation program shall enable the new employees to better comprehend the expectations of the organization from them.
Furthermore, the organization shall also have played its pivotal role in laying a success foundation for these new employees. Moreover, formal orientation programs have been seen to play a pivotal role in improving recruiting efforts. When an organisation goes out of its way to provide its new employees with tools that would enable them to achieve success, the implications is that such employees shall view the organisation in question from a positive context. Accordingly, there is the likelihood of such employees opting to stay longer at the organisation, and hence on increase in the levels of employees retention at the organization.
How are Formal orientation programs effective in reducing employee turnover?
According to Lee and Bruvold (2005, p 983), companies incur considerable financial burden as a result of high rates of employee turnover. There are also reports to indicate that as a result of high rates of employee turnover at an organization, this could as well have an impact on additional fundamental factors of the organization. Rolag and colleagues (2005, p. 41) have argued that at a time when a newcomer to an organisation and who was equally productive decides to leave such an organisation, this is a double loss for the organization. To start with, the organization incur a huge loss in the form of the investment that is has made in the individual in question. Secondly, there is the issue of the rest of the employees, who shall have to adjust as a result of the loss of their colleagues, implying that the overall productivity of the organization shall also be affected. It is the position of experts that the longevity of employees at a given organisation is both a benefit, as well as a business goal to that particular organization.
As Paul and Anantharaman (2003) have observed, “Organizations that are interested in a long-term relationship with employees reap the rewards in financial terms through increased productivity and long-term affinity of the employee with the organization” (p. 1261). One of the most practical activity that an organization may undertake in order to ensure that it retains its employees is to see to it that the orientation programs for new employees is carried out in an efficient and exhaustive manner. As Hacker (2004) has noted on the issue of conducting a formal orientation program, “It costs money – lots of money when you lose good people, sometimes because they got off to a rocky start” (p. 90), there is a need to ensure that the program is friendly enough to enable the employees stick around in the organization long enough for the company to recoup its investment.
Ragsdale and Mueller are of the opinion that orientation programs usually place a lot of emphasis on the reason behind employees undertaking the duties allocated to them. Further, the authors have classified the benefits that employees stands to gain from an orientation program. They have revealed that formal orientation programs plays a pivotal role in the motivation and retention of employees, increasing their productivity, reducing their turnover, enhancing employee morale, lowering the levels of anxiety that are characteristic of new employees, as well as aiding in the learning of the employees. Hacker (2004, p. 90) further opines that there is the likelihood of inferior orientation programs to impact greatly on the present as well as the future efforts towards recruitment by an organisation. According to McKersie (2003, p. 34), a formal orientation program meant for new employees is capable of not only enhancing the level of satisfaction of employees, but also to increase the employee retention.
In order that the formal orientation programs are helpful and successful in the lowering of employee turnover, it is important that the components of this program are designed accordingly. In this regard, Reese (2005, p. 14) has reiterated the need for organizations to be fully aware of their existing rates of employee retention, prior to designing their formal orientation programs. Hacker (2004, p. 91) sought to reassess the research on formal orientation programs meant for new employees. This author discovered that when organizations were out to enhance their individual employee orientation programs, chances are that might as well enhance the rates of retention of their employees by as much as 25 percent. The design of a formal orientation program is a critical issue since it is capable of influencing the attitudes of employees on the roles that they play at their place of work, in addition to the actions that they portray within the organization.
How are Formal orientation programs effective in increasing productivity?
Employers in all forms of business understand that the success of their businesses is largely determined by how productive their workers are. Workers who do not utilize their time and other resources effectively cost the company money not only in the wages they receive but also in the lost returns occasioned by the resulting lost output. Formal orientations improve the productivity of new employees in the workplace.
The familiarity on issues explained during the orientation reduces the level of anxiety for the new employees. Still, the time taken for them to reach proficiency is drastically reduced as the systems are better understood; less time is taken in polishing up on the mechanics inherent in the working processes and less stress is exerted on the existing workforce in terms of workload. In addition, the new employee is able to develop the appropriate behaviors expected of them. This smoothen the interactions with existing employees. A combination of these aspects brings forth improved productivity of the new employees for the benefit of the firm. Less time and effort is put in getting used to the new job. This implies a larger amount of output produced by the oriented worker in a given time as compared to the output of the worker who is not formally oriented (Jon & DeSimone, 2009).
A two year study conducted at Texas Instrument showed that a well composed program directly hastens productivity in new employees. The outcome proved that the employees who underwent an all inclusive orientation stage attained their full potential 2 months sooner than those who did not (Lee & Bruvold, 2003, p. 994). As can be seen, from these studies conducting the formal programs is critical to ensuring higher productivity among new workers as well as accelerating the attainment of top performance. The increased productivity is critical to the overall competitiveness of the firm which is crucial to a healthy and profitable business in the midst of tough competition.
Formal orientation program play a significant role in exposing new employees to the environment of their place of work. The faster employees are able to adjust to the new environment, the faster too, shall be their contribution to the organization. It is not enough to have a formal orientation program that has adequate content; there is a need to ensure that such a program is also presented in such a manner that it highlights each and every aspect that needs to be addressed. There are quite a number of benefits that characterizes effective formal orientation programs as these are practiced by organizations. Not only do they enable new employees to adapt to the work environment at a faster rate, they also enable such employees to approach their work with a positive attitude. As a result, the levels of productivity of employees are bound to increase.
Furthermore, effective formal orientation programs have been seen to result in reduced rates of employee turnover, in addition to saving time for the supervisors to these employees. This allows them to attend to the other activities of the organisation, again translating into an overall increase in the productivity of the organizational successful orientation program needs to be continuous so that the organization may assess its shortcomings in its implementation and act accordingly. In addition, this would also make it far easier for the new employees to familiarize with the workplace environment to a greater extent.
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