Whether you are a relatively new hire or have many years of experience working for your current employer, you probably have a pretty good idea of what new employees go through in your organization as part of their orientation.
In some companies it’s a quick tour, multiple introductions to people you will work with, and it’s over when the tour ends at your work area. Now depending on your specific job and the level at which you are brought on board, you could contrast that experience with being shown not just other employees in your immediate area, but perhaps your orientation includes flights to other cities, perhaps countries, where your organization has other operations.
Almost a zero chance of flights to other operations if your job is Forklift Operator in the back warehouse. However, there are some positions higher up in organizations that do require new employees to introduce themselves to other people and other departments world-wide.
For you specifically though, what does your company orientation look like? Unfortunately, it sometimes depends on who is providing the orientation. If your organization is very small, it’s likely that the same person does the orientation; perhaps the business owner. A business owner will undoubtedly share what is of vital importance to him or her, and while they know you will likely never have the same level of passion for the company that they do, they do hope to impart some of that enthusiasm so that you impact their customers in a similar way that they themselves would.
Larger organizations might sit you down with a thick manual to read. Policies, procedures, initializing each one as you read it as proof later on that they imparted this knowledge to you in the event it is ever questioned. It could be that there is some kind of designated protocol that all employees go through too. Some in-house training on computer software, practices and safety awareness training. While some organizations insist all employees go through this training before they ever start the actual work, there are some that put their employees to work right away, only having the mandatory training once there are a sufficient number of new hires to make the training a group experience.
Much depends on when you enter an organization too. If the company is undergoing a change in leadership at senior levels., it could be that the change impacts on front-line orientations. Those senior people exiting or entering new positions may be the ones responsible for new orientations. If you are coming on board as these changes occur, your experience may differ significantly than that of others hired prior to you or sometime later. Your orientation might be left to your immediate Supervisor, and that might not be their area of expertise or experience.
Let’s be honest and acknowledge that in many organizations there is no orientation at all. No, sometimes a person is hired, arrives at the office and is shown their desk, the pile of files on it, and is told to get at it. Aside from being introduced to a co-worker who explains where the washrooms are and how breaks and lunch work, orientation is over. The tour, (if there was one) would be your work area and the office of the person in charge. You may scoff at this, but I know of several situations from my clients first-hand where this was their experience.
What an orientation could be however, is an opportunity to integrate new employees into the organization’s culture, vision, mission or philosophy and how all of that translates into the client or customer experience. Good orientations ensure that new hires get consistent supportive training, levels of initial responsibility that don’t put clients or the organization itself at high levels of risk. There are safeguards in place, like supervisory monitoring of all decisions and paperwork that are designed to protect the organization, the client or customer and the new hire themselves.
Now it may be that an organization has the relative luxury of off-site, secured training areas. These spaces ensure that the new hires don’t negatively impact on the day-to-day operations of the company and allow new staff to learn in simulation what they will need shortly when on the job. There are many companies that don’t have this luxury. Much of the time new staff job shadow a seasoned worker, learning things on the fly, being shown how to do the job.
A company has to decide on what is the best way to educate their new staff, getting maximum production value quickly in a cost-effective manner. While it might be nice to have two month’s paid training in a simulated environment, that just isn’t practical in much of the real world. Employers know that new hires can’t be as productive and therefore as valuable as someone who has been in the job for a year or more. New staff on the other hand, hope to be paid their full salary on day 1 even though they are just learning.
Orientations are exciting, stressful, packed with learning opportunities and the pressure to absorb the information being taught. It’s also a time to find out how the new employee impacts on the chemistry of the workplace and the workplace chemistry on the new employee.
Make the most of workplace orientation whether you are the new hire or the organization.