Windward Insider Blog

Keys to Successful Orientations - Guest Blogger: Karin Wills

We are very pleased to introduce guest blogger Karin Wills. Karin is the founder of HR Concise, a human resources consulting firm that specializes in custom solutions for small to medium size businesses. We like Karin's writing because it is informative & concise. More about Karin, her books and website, below. Orientation improves the ability of new employees to 'hit the ground running' and increases retention rates in businesses that conduct an effective program. Consider your recruitment methods and content carefully to attract the best candidates for your business. The first contact an employee has with your business will be their first impression of what it will be like to work there, their orientation to your business starts here. Each person that is assigned a role in the orientation process for an employee must deliver a consistent message regarding values, culture and behaviour. Designate one person in each support department to act as an information source. Schedule meetings to share what their role is and how things get done. Develop a list of subject matter experts that are willing to act as 'go to' aides. Designate a coworker to act as a support for a new employee. Keep information sources current. Customize activities to your workplace. Make activities interactive, dynamic and creative. An activity such as a scavenger hunt helps employees remember what they learned and creates opportunities to interact with colleagues. Current employees are often tasked with training and supporting new colleagues, ask them for ideas. Have a list of learning resources and their location available. Have clear and concise behavioural expectations with consequences ready to be shared by the hiring manager. Ensure learning happens Include feedback opportunities in various stages such as the near the end of the first week, month, probation period. Including orientation goals in your performance review process is also a way to track how well the program is working. It helps managers and employees start conversations about what is working and what they need. Orientation is a process, not an event. Organize the orientation process so that information is spaced out over an appropriate time frame. Employees often say that they are overwhelmed with too much information at once and later they have difficulty remembering where to find what when they need it. Once a candidate has accepted an offer, what steps need to be taken before they arrive for their first day at work? Week? Month? Year? Probation period? Basics Temporary and contract employees will be better able to provide maximum value if you include them in relevant aspects of your orientation program. Some business analysts estimate that over the next ten years, one-third of our future workforce will come from immigration. Intercultural considerations in your orientation program will maximize the contributions of a diverse workforce. Advising appropriate parties of an impending new hire start date will allow time to set up necessary work related requisites. What tools or equipment will they need to get started? What happens on the first day? Checklists can make a significant difference to the success of your orientation program. Busy people tend to forget or lose track of time. Having a checklist that requires sign off means they have something to keep activities front of mind. Choose inexpensive items with the company logo as part of a welcome package: a coffee mug or water bottle. Send a package of information that provides information that will help them prepare for the day they start. Is the employee relocating? Send information about the best local websites and information sources for their new home. Send company information such as videos or news releases that they can share with family and friends. Phone them before their first day and let them know who will greet them when they arrive, and to answer any questions they may have. Karin Wills founded HR Concise on the principle that being proactive in employee related actions is less expensive both financially and from a time perspective than dealing with issues after the fact. As your small business grows it is critical to have competent employees that are engaged in their work and that represent your business as you intend it to be represented. My philosophy is that the less bureaucratic and complex a human resources infrastructure is the simpler it is to manage it and thus stay focused on growing your business while maintaining positive employee relations. She is also the author of two books, Change & Resilience in Organizations and A Social Media Primer: The Starter Guide For People In Organizations. Visit HR Concise at You can contact Karin by email at:

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