HR experts contend that a new employee’s first day on the
job can set the course for his or her entire tenure at the company. Although a
new hire’s opinion of the organization will likely evolve and develop over
time, a lot can be determined in those crucial first few hours when their
general sense of the new position is still just beginning to be formed.
Taking advantage of this one-time opportunity to make a good
first impression is particularly important in the hospitality industry, which,
as a whole, continues to struggle with the challenge of employee retention. And
yet many hotels, restaurants, caterers, and other hospitality industry companies
continue to rely on the same protocols for employee orientation and training
that they’ve been using for decades.
Of course, it’s crucial for companies to have a
standardized, consistent approach to new-hire training to ensure that each
staff member receives the same level of thorough, accurate information and
instruction. But “standardized” doesn’t have to mean dull and uninspiring.
Instead, think of your new employee orientation as a sales
pitch. This training session represents your most valuable opportunity to “sell”
your employees on the organization and earn their engagement, personal
investment, and commitment.
Unsure of what kind of changes you should make? According to
Jean Barbazette, chief consultant for The Training Clinic and author of Successful New Employee Orientation: Assess,
Plan, Conduct, and Evaluate Your Program, it’s not necessary to pull out all
the stops in order to make your existing orientation program more effective. In
fact, an overly-gimmicky approach could have the unintended effect of alienating
your new hires. Instead, it may be possible to tweak and refine your existing
orientation method to make it much more engaging. Here are a few simple tips to
help you get started:
The first step of any organizational
change effort is evaluating the protocols and procedures that are currently in
place. Have a group of managers assume the roles of new trainees and sit
through your current orientation program from start to finish. Make notes about
what works, what’s out of date, and what could use a bit more fine-tuning.
Talk to employees who have recently gone through your current
orientation program. Was there too little or too much information? Was it
tedious? Did the format work? What would they like to have seen more or less
of? Informal interviews or anonymous
surveys are both effective methods that you can use to gather accurate information
from recent hires. For best results, talk to a range of employees, including
some who have been with the company for several months. This will help you
better understand how your training program stacks up against employees’ actual
Identify the most important things new employees need to know, and
divide your training time accordingly. An exhaustive approach that covers every
footnote in the HR manual isn’t necessary, and may actually wind up confusing
your new hires. If you have a great deal of material that must to be covered,
break the training sessions up over several days.
possible, prepare a binder with all written training materials and give it to
your new hires before the orientation session. This will give them a chance to
begin familiarizing themselves with the organization’s policies and procedures
in advance. This way, they’ll have more personal engagement in the process, and
they’ll be ready to ask questions about anything that was unclear.
Let’s face it -- extended training sessions can be a bit monotonous. Mix
things up a bit with interludes of ice-breakers and other interactive
activities, such as group introductions, pop quizzes with gift certificates or
other premiums as prizes, and name recognition games that allow new employees
to get to know one another.
Whether your overhauled orientation
program is fairly similar to your original approach or radically different,
what matters is taking the time to ensure that it is effective, efficient, and
up-to-date. This training program is your chance to make a positive first
impression on your new employees -- make sure you make the most of it with a
streamlined, exciting program that engages and inspires.