All Aboard

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Click here for the October 2007 issue
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Mary was frustrated. When she had arrived in her new position she found that her supervisor didn’t yet have a desk for her – or a computer. Groundwork had not been laid to allow her to begin the work she had anticipated jumping into. For days she sat idle with little to do but busywork. She began to long for her old job, and to regret taking her new job.

Do you have an effective on-boarding process in your department? Is there a systematic method of acclimatizing new hires to their positions, or do they just flounder for the first days or weeks? Do you get them up to speed and up to full productivity quickly, or do they struggle and lag behind the rest of your staff for an unnecessary length of time?

An effective on-boarding process can help you to:

  • Reinforce a new hire’s decision to join your team, which increases their commitment and engagement.

  • Shorten the time it takes for them to reach full productivity. 

    Writing in ERE.net, an online forum for recruitment professionals, David Le states: 

    “[A] study conducted at Texas Instruments showed that employees whose orientation process was carefully attended to reached “full productivity” two months earlier than those whose orientation process was not.”

    “More recently, Hunter Douglas found that by upgrading their onboarding process, they were able to reduce their turnover from a staggering 70% at six months, to 16%. These changes also translated into improved attendance, [and] increased productivity…”1

    Here are ways of effectively bringing a new hire on-board:

    Orient them to your Department

    From introducing them to their coworkers to making sure they get a Penncard, the first step to on-boarding is to help them settle into their position in your Department.

    Just this month, one new SOM staff member wrote us saying:

    “It would be extremely useful to have a checklist for new staff featuring items like: set-up email account, acquire Penn key, complete HIPPA training, select benefits, etc. This checklist could feature helpful URL’s and contact information for key offices. Brining everything together on one sheet would really streamline the ‘getting set’ phase of employment.”

    The irony of this feedback is – this checklist already exists! Either their supervisor chose not to use it or (most likely) was unaware of its existence.

    You can access the checklist at http://www.med.upenn.edu/somtrain/hr_training_supervisors.shtml#templates. Download it, remove the parts you don’t need, customize it to your department and you will have a helpful tool that you can reuse with every new hire. (Along with a checklist for orienting new Staff, this site also has checklists for Staff Mentors and Temporary Workers.)

    These checklists include reminders do such things as schedule computer and phone hook-up, and review the department’s organization chart new with staff so they know who does what and where they fit in.

    While it won’t take all of the work out of orienting them to your department, it organizes the process for you and ensures that nothing falls through the cracks. It serves as a reminder regarding such things as equipment your new hire will need, and paperwork you will need to have them complete.

    Orient them to their Position

    Along with helping them to settle into the department, orient them to their specific job.  Naturally, the optimal way of doing this would be to have the outgoing person train the incoming.

    Of course, overlap between the two people is rare. In lieu of that, have the outgoing person spend the waning days of their employment laying the groundwork for transferring their job. Some things they should do include:

  • Organize files, information and supplies in an easy-to-understand system, to make it easier for the new person to find what they need.

  • Document their procedures so the new person can understand the process of doing the job.

  • Explain their organizational scheme, documentation and job-strategies to someone in your department who you assign to mentor or train the new person. That designated person can serve as a bridge for the transfer of knowledge.

    As mentioned, assign a veteran staff member to mentor the new person. This will give the newcomer someone to go to when they have questions or need advice. Setting it up in a formal fashion will make it easier and more comfortable for the newcomer to do so.

    Orient them to the School of Medicine

    Start by sending them to the SOM New Staff Orientation program as soon as possible. “But isn’t that the same as the University Orientation?” you may ask.

    No, it’s not. There is no overlap between the two, except in the discussion of employee benefits. Even that overlap is not a bad thing; with all that a new hire is absorbing, it helps them to hear benefits explained again. Since Penn’s excellent benefit package is one reason why many people want to work here, a reminder of the details can help reinforce their decision to take the job.

    After attending the SOM Orientation recently, BA Brian Daddino, a new hire in Ophthalmology, wrote:

    “The SOM orientation session this morning was excellent.  I came to Penn from another academic medical center’s SOM, and I learned about things today about Penn that I never knew (and sometimes couldn’t find out) about my former employer after 12 years…I am so happy to be here at Penn!  Thank you for adding to an overwhelmingly positive first impression of Penn for me.”

    Information about how to sign up for the SOM Orientation, along with helpful resources for new hires (such as maps of the SOM complex, transportation and parking information, and lists of nearby restaurants and ATMs) are available at http://www.med.upenn.edu/oe/newstaff.shtml.

    Orient them to the University

  • Along with attending the SOM Orientation, the University offers an Orientation program that will give them a bird’s-eye view of the institution as a whole, enhancing their pride at being a part of Penn. The University’s Learning and Education Department will send them an official invitation to an orientation program – do your best to arrange for them to be available to go, and if they can’t, encourage them to reschedule.

    Along with attending the SOM Orientation, the University offers an Orientation program that will give them a bird’s-eye view of the institution as a whole, enhancing their pride at being a part of Penn. The University’s Learning and Education Department will send them an official invitation to an orientation program – do your best to arrange for them to be available to go, and if they can’t, encourage them to reschedule.

    All Aboard

    According to the Corporate Leadership Council, a manager who serves as an effective conduit between the organization and the employee can improve employee engagement by as much as 38%. Some of the sample activities the Council gives under that category include “ensuring employees understand the full range of benefits offered by the organization” and “teaching new employees about organizational vision and strategy during the onboarding process.” 2  

    According to the Corporate Leadership Council, a manager who serves as an effective conduit between the organization and the employee can improve employee engagement by as much as 38%. Some of the sample activities the Council gives under that category include “ensuring employees understand the full range of benefits offered by the organization” and “teaching new employees about organizational vision and strategy during the onboarding process.” 2  Take advantage of the first weeks of an employee’s tenure in your department to optimize their engagement with a comprehensive and strategic onboarding.

    1 David Le, “How to Avoid the Four Deadliest Onboarding Mistakes,” ere.net, November 22, 2005 http://www.ere.net/articles/db/3F9DEDC4BD074E23A72AD98B938382CA.asp.

    2 Corporate Leadership Council, eds., Managing for High Performance and Retention. (Washington, D.C.: Corporate Executive Board, 2005), 16.

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    Also in the October 2007 issue:                

     

    SOM Supervisory Certificate Program
    First Supervisory Skills Certificate Series Cohort Graduates
    Creating Persuasive Presentations
    Organization Effectiveness Resource Library
    Workplace Q & A
    Knowledge Link Help Desk
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