Learning Quest: Neo and On-Boarding Exploration Paper Thesis

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Learning Quest: NEO and on-Boarding

Exploration Paper

Summer 2009

Exploration Questions

New Employee Orientation and on-Boarding

Studies have shown time and again that organizations of all types and sizes consistently identify their human capital as their most important resource, and the relationship between productive employees and a company's bottom line is also well documented. It would seem just good business sense, then, to seek to assist new employees become as productive as possible as rapidly as possible but it appears that some companies are either failing to conduct appropriate new employee orientation and on-boarding practices or are failing to gain the maximum advantage from these human resource programs. To determine what successful companies are doing right in terms of these initiatives, this study reviews the relevant peer-reviewed literature to develop answers to a series of research questions which are outlined below, following an overview of the evaluation topic considered herein.

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Thesis on Learning Quest: Neo and On-Boarding Exploration Paper Assignment

Everyone has experienced the first day on a new job and can appreciate how confusing and challenging it can be, particularly when there has been little or no effort made to provide an orientation to the organization. Just as it is important for individuals to make a good first impression on prospective employers, so too is it important for organizations to make a good first impression on their new hires by providing them with the guidance and orientation they will need to "hit the ground running" as quickly as possible. In this regard, Mcgillicuddy (1998) emphasizes that, "As employee communications professionals and human resources trainers know, employee orientation is perhaps the critical introduction to an organization for a new employee. based on their experience during orientation, an employee often can tell how an organization truly views its workforce" (p. 551).

Exploration Questions

The questions to be addressed in this exploration paper are as follows:

1. What is New Employee Orientation (NEO) and On-boarding?

2. Why should organizations utilize these programs?

3. What are effective, and ineffective, practices for orienting and socializing new employees?

4. What are the intended outcomes of NEO and On-boarding programs?

5. What approaches can be used to develop and implement NEO and On-boarding programs?

6. What are potential barriers to effective design and successful implementation; and how can the barriers be overcome?

Journal Article Review

The peer-reviewed journal articles consulted for this study were identified in various online research services such as EBSCO and Questia, as well as relevant and reliable Web sites where appropriate. The search terms used to identify appropriate journal articles and scholarly resources including "new employee," "new employee orientation," "on-boarding" and so forth; although there were a number of relevant articles identified using "new employee orientation" there was a paucity of relevant resources found for "on-boarding" and a concise definition for this term was therefore acquired using a Web site source.

New Employee Orientation (NEO) and On-Boarding Defined

As the terms suggest, new employee orientation involves "orienting" new hires to the organization and providing them with the tools, information and contacts they will need immediately and in the future. In this regard, Ukens notes that, "New employee orientation informs people about the work rules, policies, and procedures established in the past. Another example is upgrading training, which equips workers with what they need to know and do to cope with changing technology, work methods, and working conditions" (2001, p. 193). Likewise, the term "on-boarding" is typically used to describe the process of bring a new hire "on-board." According to Dubs (2005), "On-boarding is the process of integrating employees into their new work environment" (p. 3). In many cases, on-boarding programs are designed to provide new employees with mentors and "buddies" that can help them succeed during the initial 3- to 6-month period of their employment with an organization (Trahant, 2006).

Rationale in Support of NEO and On-Boarding Practices

Because resources are by definition scarce, helping new hires become acquainted with an organization and its culture in as effective fashion as possible just makes good business sense. Although new employee orientation programs and on-board practices can directly contribute to a company's improved performance and profitability, but they are not an end-all that can be administered once and then forgotten and rather represent the starting point for a long-term relationship between employees and an organization that will involve on-going training and other employee developmental initiatives. For example, Mcgillicuddy (1998) points out that, "Improving employee orientation to the satisfaction of both senior management and new hires is merely one step an organization can take in making sure they exhibit the tenet of employees being it greatest resource. But as first impressions go, it is a lasting change" (p. 551). Likewise, Flanagin and Waldeck (2004) note that most new hires have many of the same types of questions concerning the "nuts and bolts" of the organization's operation, particularly as they apply to themselves on a personal level. In this regard, Flanagin and Waldeck emphasize that, "Organizational newcomers typically have high uncertainty regarding how to do their job, how their performance will be evaluated, what types of social behaviors are normative, and what personal relationships within the organization might be beneficial to them" (p. 137). As noted above, orientation is not a static one-time affair but requires an ongoing commitment to helping new hires acquire the information and learn the corporate culture. For instance, Flanagin and Waldeck conclude that, "Effective socialization reduces these uncertainties, helps newcomers cultivate productive relationships at work, and ensures that individuals and organizations benefit from their working relationship. Consequently, newcomers and experienced organizational members typically engage in formal and informal organizational socialization activities before, during, and after their entry into the organization" (p. 138).

Effective Practices for Orienting and Socializing New Employees

Although all organizations are unique, in most cases effective practices for orienting and socializing new employees will involve providing them with the following materials (as well as others as appropriate) at a minimum:

1. Maps;

2. Parking areas, sticker or pass;

3. Where and when to report;

4. Supervisor's name and location;

5. To whom to report the first day;

6. Employee handbook;

7. Benefit plan information;

8. Company newsletter;

9. Annual report;

10. Uniform ordering information (if applicable);

11. Dress code information;

12. Confirm position, title and salary;

13. Relocation kit (if applicable);

14. Copy of job description;

15. Length of probationary period (if applicable);

16. Organization chart for employee's area; and,

17. Information concerning any collective bargaining organization that may represent the company's employees (Ukens, 2001, p. 379).

Providing new employees with these resources prior to their reporting to work on their first day will assist them in becoming more familiar with the organization as well as becoming more productive quicker than through the use of a single orientation meeting approach. Based on their survey of current employees concerning their NEO-approaches cited by Mcgillicuddy, one public sector organization made some significant changes in the manner in which new hires were oriented and brought on-board, including the following:

1. Beginning the orientation with a short quiz on the organization. The quiz should include questions concerning the annual budget, how frequently employees are paid, the number of paid holidays, and how often employees may receive a merit increase in pay. Those who provide correct answers win a small incentive such as a tee-shirt or candy; new hires are allowed to work together at their tables and to use information provided to find the correct answer. This activity is a good ice breaker for the group because they begin talking with each other to find the answers, reports one of the trainers who oversees the orientation. It also becomes a learning experience, since many employees refer to the handouts as a resource. The prizes are not extravagant but still seem to energize the group, giving us a nice jump start into the orientation.

2. Setting aside an entire day for orientation. Although many of the authorities reviewed emphasize the need for ongoing orientation and socialization, the initial meeting should be scheduled for an entire day. This approach allowed new hires to concentrate on the materials being presented without being concerned about reporting to work later in the day.

3. A personalized folder is provided to each employee. The public sector organization introduced new folders that were specifically designed for new employee orientation. On the inside of the folder itself is printed the organization's vision and mission statements as well as the name and phone number of their personnel representative in the new hires' department, a newly designed and written employee handbook, a special orientation edition of the county's monthly employee newsletter, a catalogue of training sessions available to employees, the annual calendar edition of the newsletter that features important dates to remember, and extended coverage of benefits provided. Guests speakers are used to highlight specific areas of current emphasis and an orientation video that is updated regularly provides new hires with an overview and introduction to the organization's departments and services (Mcguillicudy, 1998, p. 551).… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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