Orienting a new employee into their position is a unique opportunity for creating a positive bond between that person and the work community.

Meaningfulness is created through personal interaction

Orienting a new employee into their position is a unique opportunity for creating a positive bond between that person and the work community. From the point of view of the new recruit, experiencing the importance of the job role from the very outset – to the person themselves, to the team, and to the whole organization – strengthens the person’s sense of engagement and their drive to work towards shared goals. Drawing on a person’s own strengths, shared successes, and connections with others generate enthusiasm that outlasts the initial “honeymoon” period.

The orientation allows the employer to introduce the newcomer to the organization’s culture and values, strategic goals and ways of working, and responsibilities and tasks. It’s equally important, however, to take the orientation as an opportunity to help the new recruit gain a deeper grasp of their new role, the demands and opportunities it involves, and the organization’s working environment from the standpoint of people’s personal goals, aspirations and the significance they attach to things. In an individual orientation, the new employee is not a passive subject. They are an active and reciprocating participant in the orientation process.

From understanding to action

The starting point for successful induction is that the supervisor must know every member of the team: they must understand each person’s working style and way of interacting, as well as each person’s personal goals and their way of dealing with emotions. In the discussion between the supervisor and the newcomer, the profile of the latter person in relation to the work environment is deepened. This is done through discussion of matters such as the following:

  • How can the organization best help the newcomer to build on his or her strengths and learn their way around the organization?
  • What can the organization learn from the newcomer? What new ideas can we put into action right away?
  • How can we ensure that this latest member of our organization has a real chance of achieving their career goals with us, and how can we encourage this person to direct their energies toward the common goals of our organization?
  • How can we help the person to create positive cooperative relationships at work?
  • How can the newcomer make their work with us as meaningful as possible for themselves?
  • Are there any obstacles to the person’s success that we can anticipate or eliminate?

For information to be transformed into action, the organization must make the summary of the orientation conversation part of the action and development plan for the new employee. Joint monitoring of how this plan is implemented will further reinforce the meaningfulness of the orientation experience for both parties.

New and different kinds of employees challenge the orientation and accelerate development

Organizations that strive to develop the diversity of their personnel and internal cohesion will outperform other organizations in terms of turnover, profitability and the positive image they create of the organization as an employer that maintains a positive organizational culture and genuine commitment to wellbeing at work. However, the diversity of incoming personnel and their varying needs and expectations also makes the orientation process a challenge, since the same orientation model will not work for everyone.

The effectiveness of the orientation process for all concerned – the organization, the work community, and the individual joining the organization – can be significantly increased by ensuring that the process gives the newcomer real opportunities for experiencing, learning and acting as a member of the organization.

To finish, let me say a warm thank you to my new supervisor and my new work community for an engaging, interactive and personalized orientation!

Sources of inspiration and information:

The online newspaper Alusta! (in Finnish) Sirpa Syvänen and Kati Tikkamäki 2016: Dialoginen johtaminen ja kehittäminen työyhteisössä (“Dialogical management and development in work communities”)

Deloitte Insights February 28 2017. Juliet Bourke, Stacia Garr, Ardie van Berkel, Jungle Wong: Diversity and inclusion: The Reality Gap 2017 Global Human Capital Trends

Harvard Business review Dec 29 2017. John Coleman: To Find meaning in Your Work, Change How You Think About It

Procedia Economics and Finance on ScienceDirect, volume 11 2014. Ankita Saxena: Workforce Diversity: A Key to Improve Productivity