How to successfully orient employees into new positions?

Orienting employees into new positions is hugely important. This post summarises an article – authors are viewing the orientation training programmes as the most prevalent formal training developed across us, yes, often not effective. They look at the most common pitfalls, basic principles and best practice in the area of new employees orientation.

This paper I read was about orienting employees into new positions. It talks the reader through the main principles, best practices (in real-life context) and most common mistakes that companies make when onboarding new employees.

Authors are viewing the orientation training programmes as the most prevalent formal training developed across us, yes, often not effective. They look at the most common pitfalls, basic principles and best practice in the area of new employees orientation.

The most common pitfalls according to them are a) information provided in the inadequate volume of information provided (too little or too much) or conflicting information. Handing in employee handbook or policies and procedures manual and throwing them at the deep end is another common problem. This approach leads to neglecting the opportunity to build on an “unusual psychological readiness to learn). I also think it can be rather demotivating for new hires and is lacking a social aspect.
Authors also present a list of basic principles of effective orientation programmes and briefly discuss their importance.

Basic principles of effective orientation programmes

Assessment of needs – this is important both from organisational (company, department, supervisors) and the employees perspective. What the employee needs to know and what they want to know often is not the same. The time (when ) of providing the information is also crucial. I tend to agree that employees preferences in this regard are often, let say, not prioritised.

Defining Goals– Needs analysis mentioned earlier leads to goals setting. The modular approach is mentioned in the context of different positions requiring different types of training (this resonated with as I planned to look at modular and bit-size learning options when designing my learning artefact).

Planning of Orientation Process – with the focus on various activities required prior to employment, during the first day and first week.

Providing learner control – authors refer here to some level of control over the flow of information and give an example of providing employees with the handbook or an interactive computer-based solution. This can be linked directly with the principles Andragogy, revolving around “the notion that adults learn best in informal, comfortable, flexible, non-threatening settings” (Knowles, 1990, p.54) where they could organise and self-direct their learning.

Flexibility, mechanisms for providing feedback and implementing updates – like with any process this should be continuously monitored reviewed and adapted to changing needs

Immersing Employees in company culture – important for the social aspect of the job. I prefer the term onboarding. to describe an aspect of induction interested in the socialisation rather that policies and procedures. It is close to a relational approach to induction, involving networking and providing employees with quick access to information (Carbery & Cross, 2013).

Making it Fun

Mentoring new employees
In the following section, the best practices for various stages of orientation are discussed in more detail.
Authors also bring up the example of strategic orientation plan developed by some companies but unfortunately, there are no sources of that information stated.
While there is a bibliography at the end of the paper, no references can be found in the article text itself making it difficult to figure out where the source information came from.
This is a very basic introduction to Orientation and might be useful (but very simple) as an introductory step by step guide to orienting new employees.


User control

Regardlesss of the technology available, the concept of user control is one of the most powerful and effective mechanisms to improve the retention and usefulness of information. p.84

Best practices:

The common thread is a focus on the needs and capacities of the individual together with a Volume 25 Number 3 2002 85 Orienting Employees into New Positions Successfully Downloaded by Dublin City University At 16:12 10 October 2017 (PT) personalised approach to delivering what the organisation has determined are its goals for the orientation process. p85

Andrew N. Sanders, Brian H. Kleiner, (2002) “Orienting employees into new positions successfully”, Management Research News, Vol. 25 Issue: 3, pp.82-89,

Other resources:

Carbery, R., & Cross, C. (2013). Human resource management: A concise introduction. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Knowles, M. S. (1990). The adult learner: A neglected species (4th ed. ed.). Houston: Gulf Pub. Co

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