One step closer to Onboarding Utopia…

An area of workplace learning that has a dear place in my heart is onboarding.  As a young trainer, I cut my teeth leading round after round of New Hire Training.  My role has evolved over the years, yet I have always kept ties to this phase of the employment lifecycle, because it’s such a critical time for the long-term engagement (and ultimately, success) of an employee.  What can I say, it’s my thang. ;)

Today, I was facilitating New Employee Orientation (or NEO, for any jargon-happy readers) for three new hires.  As we were wrapping up, one of the attendees told me that our Orientation was the most thorough he had ever experienced.  At first, I was thrilled at the compliment, and then I began to wonder…what were his previous employers doing on Day One that was LESS thorough?  Did that play a factor in his overall satisfaction with that employer?  Well, maybe that’s over-thinking it a bit, but you never know – it might be a possibility.

One of my current projects is updating our Orientation program; right now, I feel like we do an average (at best) amount of training on that first day, but I want to do more; by more I don’t necessarily mean more TIME, but more worthwhile activity.  But I don’t want it to simply be More Handouts. More Talking Heads. More Semi-Informative Videos.  It must be engaging!  An environment conducive for nurturing new employees; helping them gain knowledge about their new employer, but also to reinforce the new employee’s decision to join our team.

So, my question: What do new employees truly learn on the first day at a new job?  Are they just trying to remember where the bathroom is?  Hoping that they have someone to eat lunch with?  Or simply crossing fingers that they’re fortunate enough to pick up a morsel or two of information that might-or-might-not be relevant down the road?  I’ll be pondering this…if you have any thoughts or experiences to share, I’d love to hear them.


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