Starting a new job is stressful for most employees because of the initial feeling of being out of place and under pressure to make a positive impression to fellow co-workers and managers. It is therefore important that all new employees are made to feel welcome and valued and are also made aware of what is expected of them during their employment (Macdonald 2004, p. 104).
Induction is regarded as the final stage of recruitment and selection but the first phase in the training and development of new employees. Induction is the process of familiarizing new employees to the company and their jobs with the aim of giving the employees a proper understanding of how things are done. Induction also known as orientation serves the purpose of providing a transition for the employee from college to work life. Since most employees start their work with a desire to succeed, induction programs offer the opportunity for them to achieve this (Compton and Nankervis 2009).
Ideally an induction program involves a tour of the building showing the fire exit points, toilets, meeting and break rooms, important offices like the CEO’s office, supplies office and the Human Resources Department. The induction program will be determined by the type of job, cultural practices and structure of the organization. Induction for smaller companies might even involve a conversation with the Human Resources Manager while that for large organizations might involve several weeks of training and supervision (Compton and Nankervis, 2009).
During the recruiting process, new recruits always have high expectations about their new jobs and the company. They might also have unrealistic expectations which might not be met leading the recruits to have feelings of dissatisfaction and anxiety. In general, unmet expectations lead to employee dissatisfaction which in turn leads to high employee turnover (Werner and DeSimone 2009).
Some companies do not view the orientation of employees into an organization as important. Some take it as a waste of time and they therefore conduct the programs in a haphazard way. Others might not have the programs at all which will result in the employee going straight into the job without any idea on what to do. The induction of employees has benefits such as reduced employee turnover, lower recruitment and selection costs, increase in employee morale. It also reduces the anxiety levels of employees. Overly anxious employees might increase costs in the area of education and development, turnover and absenteeism (Compton and Nankervis 2009).
In today’s competitive working environment, orientation programs are not meeting the goals they were designed for. The reason these programs fall short is due to lack of planning, lack of expectations and the feeling of disillusionment by most employees. Attracting qualified workers includes offering higher salaries, better benefits and career advancement opportunities. With such increased costs, retention of employees becomes the main focus of a company instead of production (Squidoo 2010).
Mistakes that are made during the induction process include activities such as bombarding new recruits with a lot of information on the first day and expecting them to memorize it, showing boring or outdated orientation videos, giving lengthy lectures about irrelevant information and failing to provide the new worker with a work station that has necessary facilities such as a computer, phone, printer and internet connection. Some employers also fail to give out any work leading the recruits to sit idle for most of the day (Squidoo 2010).
The most frequent complaints about employee orientation programs is that they are overwhelming to the new employee thereby not providing the smooth transition that is needed to begin working. It becomes overwhelming especially if there is a test or quiz at the end of the program which requires the new recruits to remember all the information they have just been presented with. This adds on more pressure to the already anxious worker.
Most Human Resource Managers involve a lot of paperwork on the first day especially if the information required has a deadline. They might require the employee to fill in forms with regards to their pay, compensation and benefits. There might also be contractual paperwork which the employee has to go through and sign. This process might take a lot of time and there might be some issues which the employee does not understand and there is no one around to clarify (Werner and DeSimone 2006).
Other shortfalls of induction programs are the fact that there is a lot of one way communication instead of two way communication. The program coordinator usually fails to involve the recruits in the exercise which explains why it ends up being boring. Encouraging participation will ensure the program is lively and runs smoothly. The programs also fail to evaluate the recruits properly. Most induction coordinators use tests or quizzes as methods of evaluating the employees which are not the best. This puts on more pressure and anxiety to the employee who is already too anxious. Induction programs also lack follow-up in some companies meaning once they are done the employees are all on their own. This is especially the case if the program runs for only one day. Assigning mentors ensures that they have someone to turn to in the event they face a problem while carrying out their jobs (Werner and DeSimone 2006).
Swinton (2005) provides examples of induction plans that fail in their intended purpose. Such an example is the pitiful induction plan where there is basically no induction program that has been prepared. According to her the new recruit will be lucky to have his own workspace or have co-workers introduce themselves to him or her.
Since there is no effort for orientation, the recruit finds it hard to put in effort in their work especially when they do not know what to do and how to do it.
Another example of a failed plan is the mediocre induction plan where the coordinator uses past orientation material that is outdated and irrelevant to conduct the program. This plan also uses very detailed information which proves to be overwhelming, cumbersome and boring to the new recruits. Some also use financial reports, health records and company reports as a way of informing the employees about the new company (Swinton 2005).
Having other workers conduct the orientation program has its benefits as well as disadvantages. While the worker gets the actual feel of how the job is done, they are more prone to bad influence from the workers inducting them. Bad influence comes in the form of misuse of office supplies, taking extended breaks, coming late to work and leaving early before the recommended time. Those employees who do not undergo proper induction learn by observing what their fellow co-workers do. This might be to their detriment as they are more likely to pick up bad habits from co-workers who come to work late and spent a small amount of time in a day doing actual work.
Induction programs that are not conducted properly end up being a waste of time and resources for both the employer and the employee. The quality of the staff induction program says a lot about a company and how important it views its employees. Employees will work harder for a company that shows it values them by providing quality induction programs. Companies should put in the same effort they do to induction programs when they create programs for attracting and retaining customers.
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