Joining a new company can be a daunting task for any new employee and those first minutes of their orientation can ultimately lead to a happier and more productive employee, if done right. But unfortunately there are companies that get it wrong in those first few minutes which can lead to an unhappy employee looking for a new job.

During employee orientation many corporations focus solely on corporate culture, values and identity of the new workplace. What ensues is a dragged out conversation about the firm's history and standard operating procedures. The message being conveyed: Welcome to our world. You should be proud to work here. Please do all you can to fit in accordingly.

But research suggests that employee orientation ought to be less about the company and more about the employee. In their paper "Breaking Them In or Eliciting Their Best? Reframing Socialization around Newcomers' Self-expression," published in the Administrative Science Quarterly, a research team finds that shifting the focus to an employee's personal identity leads to an increase in both employee retention and customer satisfaction.

Employees are especially productive and happy when employers encourage them to use their individual signature strengths on the job, but most corporations do not consider this during the employee on-boarding process. 

Savvy employers can build career development into the orientation process by showing new team members how they can contribute to the corporation and advance their own career goals at the same time. After the initial orientation, survey new employees for feedback to ensure that their expectations are being met and, if necessary, tweak the process. After that, weekly check-ins allow for corrections and also sends the message that the organization cares about them and is invested in their growth.

Statistics compiled by Click Boarding, an on-boarding software company in Eden Prairie, Minn., show the value of a structured on-boarding process or program: 

  •  69 percent of employees are more likely to stay with a company for three years if they experienced great on-boarding.
  •  New employees who went through a structured on-boarding program were 58 percent more likely to be with the organization after three years.
  •  Organizations with a standard on-boarding process experience 50 percent greater new-hire productivity.

To curb the desire of new team members making a bee line prematurely for the door, corporations have to give more thought and attention to how they convert attractive job candidates into successful longer-term employees. Otherwise, they are wasting the time and energy they spend on recruitment.

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