45% of employees who decide to voluntarily
terminate their employment make their decision
during the first ninety days of employment. As
awareness of this ‘failure to bond’ statistic grows,
organizations today need to take a closer look at the
first impression they are leaving with new
What is typically a 2-
paperwork dump, the traditional Orientation format
nothing to engage new employees. Once just a
necessary evil, this welcoming experience is now
being regarded as a tool to
increase retention, jump-start productivity, and
forge employee loyalty. This fresh take on
Orientation is known as Onboarding.
Unlike typical Orientation meetings, Onboarding
focuses on acclimating AND engaging new employees
into a company. To engage someone is to
become interlocked, or to bring something together;
to attract and hold somebody’s attention. This
describes a collaborative process spurred on by
shared values, mutual goals, and a sense of trust
and direction. Employee loyalty is the sign and
symptom of employee engagement at work.
Consider the following differences
traditional Orientation programs and
Compliance vs. Commitment
companies have looked at Orientation programs as a
task to be completed, resulting in a sea of
compliance oriented paperwork. Also, as the pace of
hiring sped up, so did the push to cut corners and
get the new employee to their workstation as quickly
as possible. The unfortunate focus is often on
protecting the organization from liability.
contrast, under the Onboarding method, the primary
focus of the program is long-term integration; to
connect the employee into the heart of the
company, to align them with the organizational
values, gain their commitment to the goals of the
organization, and help them see how their role
contributes to making those goals a reality.
One size fits all vs. Customized
Most traditional new-hire Orientation programs utilize
a standard template updated periodically to reflect
new information or policies. The majority are
grandfathered, have no ownership, and are the same
for every new employee regardless of their role, title,
past experience or department.
the Onboarding and engagement process is well
researched and designed thoughtfully, with the
audience in mind. Check your content for meaning
instead of volume. The best way to accomplish this
is through employee surveys of recent new-hires.
Ask them what information matters most when joining
a new company. Ask them what areas they felt
needed improvement in the current new-hire
One-time event vs. On-going experience
While 75% of companies say they have an
orientation process in place, only 15% have
strategies in place that sustain the process beyond
the first month of employment. This is where
Orientation and Onboarding differ the most. To
engage someone requires the strategy extend
beyond the “it’s now or never” philosophy of shoving
a week’s worth of information into one day or less.
Consider your own practices. Is it a tiered program
designed to grow and expand as they do? Does it
involve checking in with them periodically?
HR task vs. Direct leader’s relationship
Has the responsibility for integrating new employees
fallen through the cracks and into the hands of HR?
Historically, the person who has the least day-to-day
impact on the employee is the first face of the new
employer. If the long term wellbeing of the
relationship between the employee and the company
hinges on the first day (as studies prove) what role
should the direct supervisor be playing in shaping
that initial experience? If your front line supervisors
aren’t playing a key role in your program now, it’s
time to train-the-trainer.
solid ROI for revamping a tired Orientation process.
Engaged employees are happier, more creative,
require less management time, are highly productive,
and increase the morale of others. What
got to lose? (besides them)