Many years ago, I had the good fortune of working for a manager in an organization that took the whole new employee orientation and integration process very seriously. I stayed with the organization for 18 years.
Of course, I didn’t appreciate what kind of an impact this type of employee integration and solid leadership would have on me throughout my working career until I went on to work with others.
Let me explain . . .
This was my experience of coming into this organization as a new employee. I went to the reception desk and I stated that I was here to see Tony (I have been asked to use his first name only). I stated my name and the receptionist called Tony to advise him I was in the lobby. While I was waiting for his arrival, she introduced herself and said, “Wow! You’re first day – how exciting. I hope you really enjoy working here, and if you need anything at all, just ask. My name is Audrey.”
Now realize, I hadn’t told her that it was my first day of work – I only gave her my name. So, I felt recognized and welcomed immediately! It was obvious she knew I was coming.
Tony then came into the lobby (possibly 2 – 3 minutes later) and shook my hand, had a big smile on his face; turned toward Audrey and said, “This is the young lady I was telling you about, Kellie, meet Audrey.” We both let him know we’d introduced one another and engaged in a bit more small talk and then he said, “Well, let’s go on a bit of a tour and meet a few of the others.”
He told me that I would be assigned to a trainer and that part of my training would involve spending a bit of time in each department so I could get an understanding of how my job related to others in the company. He also explained the organizational structure in terms of who reports to whom; and while he acknowledged that there would be some paperwork for us to complete, he thought it was more important that I see the building and meet a few people first.
For the first 3 months that I worked with the organization, I was frequently visited by Tony. He struck me as truly being interested not only in me but in all of the employees that worked for him. I did some job shadowing just as he said I would; I had small quizzes and tests and the ability to demonstrate how much I had learned against very clear job specifications, and I always – always felt that I knew how to get help whenever I needed it.
I was able to contribute to the team fairly quickly and I had a pretty good handle on what was expected of me. Tony made sure to let me know that he was pleased with my progress – and more importantly – I was content in knowing the reason my job existed and what that meant to the organizational flow of things. I was able to integrate very quickly and because of working in the various departments, I knew who had whatever information I needed in order to do my job effectively and I knew within the organization the folks to connect with in the various departments.
Something I also want to make note of at this point in time, is that there were other new hires that did not meet the required standards and unfortunately, they were not kept on with the company. But, because of the way the orientation and on-boarding process was handled, I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that they were givenevery opportunity to succeed – I saw first-hand what attention was given to new ‘recruits’ as we were called at that time.
So, what happened after I’d left that organization?
Well, let’s fast forward to the last 10 or so years of my work experience history.
I had the opportunity to work for a number of different organizations and have to tell you, that most of them were exceptionally good; excellent pay and benefits, nice offices to work in, nice people for the most part – however – I was never ever, in my entire work life since given a repeat of being orientated to the workplace the way I had been by Tony – and truthfully – it was only quite recently that I put a lot of thought into this fact.
I knew that something was missing in all of these organizations – I just couldn’t quite articulate what that was – until I really looked at my entry into these various places.
My big ‘aha’ moment came when I reviewed the new employee orientation and onboarding process that I encountered at an organization I could hardly wait to begin working for. There was a huge, gigantic missing piece and it was very clear to me what was missing!
Compare this to the experience I mentioned above and you’ll see what I mean . . .
On my first day, I introduced myself at reception. The front desk person called to my new department head but no one was there. He called a couple of other people from the department but only got answering machines with everyone he called. He left a message on a couple of the phones and just asked me to take a seat, which of course; I did.
Almost 2 hours later, there was still no one there to collect me.
During that period of time, the receptionist had tried on a couple of occasions to track someone down to no avail. Finally, the recruiter (the person that actually hired and interviewed me) came to the door. The manager of the department still wasn’t available but I was told she would be soon. I was brought up to the general office area in human resources, which was the department I was going to be working in. They weren’t entirely sure of where I was going to sit for the day; but the recruiter that came and collected me, introduced me briefly to a few of the girls and went to find the manager. I knew one of the ladies from the department, so she and I talked a bit about things in general to pass the time.
Finally, my manager came and apologized profusely for having left me waiting but explained that an emergency meeting had come up. She sat me down at a computer terminal and explained that this would not be where I would be working as they hadn’t yet found a place for me; but I could at least stay here for the balance of the week and go through the things I needed to know about my job and the company.
She logged me into a computer using her password as they had not yet added me to the system, and directed me to go through the Intranet site that housed the policies and procedures as well as the internal employee communications network. She introduced me again to the girls in the open office and told me that she had to run off again but that if I had any questions, I could ask ‘Suzy-Q” in the corner and she’d be happy to help me. “Suzy-Q” had her back to me (not her fault…just the positioning of the desks) and had headphones on, she was tapping her foot and nodding her head, obviously in tune with the music she was listening to, and seemed totally engrossed in whatever it was she was doing. My boss tapped her on the shoulder and made sure she was at least aware of the fact that I was there. To my recollection, she didn’t even smile; just nodded at me, turned back around and went back to her foot-tapping.
For the entire week, I was left on my own. I can honestly tell you I’ve never had such a L O N G drawn out week ever before or since that time. I didn’t really understand why I was even there, to tell the truth. I wanted to leave within a few days of being there; and needless to say, I did leave shortly thereafter.
So, as a result of these experiences (both good and bad) I decided that I would make it my mission to help organizations see the value in providing the best orientation and on-boarding for their employees that they can.
First impressions are quite lasting and can make all the difference between really ‘wanting to stay’ with an organization and ‘having to stay’.
What’s the point of this story? When you say “Welcome, we hope you stay a while” – be sure you mean it!
Related to Welcome – We Hope You’ll Stay A While:
- 5 Tips to make your Orientations Successful!
- A Successful On Boarding Program to Prevent New Hires from Jumping Ship
- New hire training: paving the way for new staff
Tags: employee retention