Leveraging Technology In The New Employee Orientation Process


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This was an alternate presentation Phil La Duke developed (but did not deliver) at the Society for Learning Technologies (SALT) Washington Interactive Technologies Conference in Washington D.C. August 19-21

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  • This presentation was first presented at the 2009 Society for Applied Learning Technology’s Washington Interactive Technologies Conference in Washington D.C.
  • Do: Welcome the participants. Identify the emergency exits and procedures. Make any announcements that are required of the conference. Say: In this presentation, I will be sharing ways to get Operations buy-in for safety. I’m using the term “sell” in a very broad sense----when I say “sell safety” I am not just talking to purveyors of safety goods and services, but also to those of you who are internal providers of safety. Unless we know how to convince Operations that safety is more than a nuisance or a necessary evil we will never truly be successful in creating a corporate culture where safety is hardwired into how the organization operates. Do: Once you have explained what the session is about, allow people who might have expected something else to excuse themselves and leave. Introduce yourself and establish your credibility for speaking on this topic
  • Say: When we plan a new employee orientation we set certain goals: First of all, we want to introduce the new employee to our corporate culture; to introduce him or her to the the way we do business. Our corporate culture is a codified body of ethical and moral values. These aren’t always the same as what’s printed in the company handbook, are they? A second goal is to set a tone. We want the new employee to feel like accepting our offer and coming onboard wasn’t just a good idea, it was a great one. There’s plenty of clichés come to mind about making a first impression, but as tired as these clichés may be, they aren’t wrong. We also want to reduce the stress of starting a new job, and that is the crux of our third goal. Starting a new job is immensely stressful---in fact, experts have found that starting a job is as stressful as being fired. Starting a new job is stressful because the new employee doesn’t have a good handle on what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Sure he or she understands the big no-nos like stealing or fighting, but there are often subtle taboos that can really create problems for those who violate them, and these cultural norms and mores are often unexpressed. Our fourth and fifth goals are related, and that is getting all the administrative and regulatory stuff out of the way. One of the least productive activities associated with the hiring process is getting all the paperwork associated with becoming an employee completed and processed. The process can be so time consuming that it may takes months to get the employee properly enrolled in the associated benefits programs. Similarly, we often plan to do all the mandatory training in the first two weeks of a new employee’s employment. Unfortunately, except for periods of large-scale hiring, this either results in the new hire waiting for the next scheduled course offering, or the company conducting small classes or one or two participants at a time. Our sixth and final goal is to reduce or eliminate the “dead time” between the first day of work and being fully productive in the role for which we’ve hired the new employee.
  • Say: In this economy it may seem absurd to be worrying about new employee orientation, but now is the optimum time to tear down the old ineffective New Employee Orientation and build a new and stronger foundation. Most organizations will emerge from this economic downturn looking dramatically different. The business conditions that preceded the downturn are gone, perhaps forever and the companies that survived have had to make some very radical changes not just in how they govern their businesses, but many have reexamined their core values and are very different companies than they were a few short years ago. The new employee orientation must reflect these changes and must do a better job of quickly and effectively indoctrinating the worker into the new, emerging culture. We also have time to plan. The Yin and Yang of the business cycle tends to be we either have plenty of time (and no money) or plenty of money (but no time.) Western businesses tend to not place a very high value on planning (we want action) but planning is essential to the effective development and expedient delivery of a good employee orientation. Unfortunately (or fortunately) we don’t have as much time to plan as we might like or imagine. There are signs that the economy is picking up, which means that many of us will be hiring soon. Very soon. The more energy we expend on improving our orientation process now the less problems we will encounter when the economy returns to prosperity. Typically, HR and training aren’t the functions that the organization beefs up before a big hiring, are they? So a likely scenario is when the hiring boom hits it will find us scrambling and understaffed. We won’t have time to commit to new employee orientation that we would like. Whatever we decide to do, we will likely have to do it with far less resources than we would like, so we had better look for ways to leverage anything we can.
  • Say: Here is a rough outline of how many organizations approach New Hire Orientation. I know that many of you have different procedures, but I just want to illustrate the tendency of many companies to wait until the last minute to prepare for a new hire’s arrival. On this chart you can see that while there is much activity once the employee is on site, the organization seems to have gone to sleep between the time the offer is made and when the new employee begins work. This is a huge waste of time. Ideally, we want the new employee to become comfortable with his or her new environment and acclimated to the new work place quickly. But in a real sense, time is money and we waste a lot of both by reacting to the new employee’s arrival before tackling many tasks that could easily have been completed in the two weeks between the offer of employment and the first day on the job.
  • Say: Here we see an orientation process that heavily leverages technology to streamline the new employee orientation process. Of course it’s highly unlikely that an organization would leverage technology to such a large extent, but I just wanted to illustrate the shift from post-start date activities to pre-start date activities.
  • Say: Leveraging technology really can speed and streamline the new employee orientation process. How many of us have started a new job and spent our first week listening to a dizzying array of welcome videos, reviewing vision and mission statements, reading policies manuals, and attending training. Oft times we are made to feel like we are inconveniencing the HR, training and hiring departments. In many organizations, new employee orientation is seen as little more than a necessary evil. But correctly leveraged technology can reduce the time it takes to get the new hire feeling like part of the team and skilled enough to function in our organization. But not only does a properly leveraged orientation take less time, it also frees up time that occupies HR or training personnel. How many of you dread the prospect of new hire Mondays because you know that it means baby-sitting a new employee while the dozens of other tasks pile up? Leveraging technology allows the orienting department to spend more of its time focusing on social orientation and less on administrative orientation. Leveraging technology also makes the New Employee Orientation far more flexible. The new hire can take long breaks between the activities and generally can complete these activities anywhere that he or she can access the internet. Another advantage of leveraging technology is that it allows the new hire to acclimate to the company culture in a safe setting. The new employee can learn about the company “do’s” and “taboos” without fearing making a gaff that might create a negative impression of him or her among his or her new peers. Companies that use technology to conduct pretests, can also assess the new hire’s skills and create a training plan that avoids requiring the new employee to attend training that is too basic for him or her. And because technology allows the new hire to work at his or her own pace, the new employee is able to avoid the information overload that is often endemic to the New Employee Orientation process.
  • Say: There are many great technologies that previously been prohibitively expensive or of sub par quality. We’re going to take a quick look at each of these and at ways that we can leverage them in new and innovative ways.
  • Say: From videotaped messages from the CEO to DVD-based safety training, recorded media has long been the staple of technology-based New Employee Orientation. Unfortunately, far too frequently this media is deployed by sticking a new hire in a glorified closet and telling them to let you know when they are done. While there is nothing intrinsically wrong with the media, the temptation to treat the new hire like a precocious three-year old that you want to keep occupied for 20 minutes by parking him or her in front of a video screen is too great for many organizations to resist
  • Say: Many organizations are recognizing that any information that can be disseminated using traditional media can also be transmitted effectively via the internet or the worldwide web. Allowing the new hire to complete a “virtual Orientation” has ancillary benefits in that it: Can be completed “on demand” Allows spouses or other family members to also complete the orientation Helps familiarize the new hire with the companies’ expectations relative to online activities (training, benefits enrollment, etc.) The use of the web also allows the New Employee to complete online safety courses. OSHA has traditionally not accepted online safety courses as meeting its regulatory requirements unless a proctor was present while the participant completed the class. Recently, however, OSHA agreed to accept online safety courses from select providers without a proctor. While there are relatively few providers of online that OSHA will accept without a proctor, these providers typically offer courses that are high quality and reasonably priced. Of course other training can be delivered via the web, but you should be careful of over using web-based, eLearning because as many of you already know, eLearning is not a panacea. A third advantage offered by leveraging the web is the ability, online pretesting and “test out” opportunities. Many organizations require pre- and posttests to validate the instructional design of their courses, but pretests can also be used to identify individuals who already possess the desired skills and therefore do not require training. This “test-out” option can save the organization time and money while sparing the new hire from having to endure training that is too basic for him or her. There is also a hidden benefit from having the pretest “test out” option in cases where an individual believes that the course is unnecessary but truly lacks the desired skills. A non-passing score on the pretest will often be enough to convince a reluctant employee that completion of the training in question is really necessary.
  • Say: More and more companies are moving away from traditional job aids or training for those tasks that are completed infrequently. Instead these organizations are adopting Electronic Performance Support tools. Electronic Performance Support tools are electronic documents that provide the worker with just-in-time, guided instructions. A perfect application for an electronic performance support tool is the completion of benefits and legal paperwork. Traditionally, companies complete this paperwork the first day that the new employee is on the job. The new employee is again relegated to a closet and asked to complete a daunting stack of enrollment forms, tax forms, and sundry documents that must be completed before the new hire can be released to the hiring department. Figure 3 is a screen shot from a training manual from O/E’s Safety Management System, SafetyIMPACT! This tool is used to augment training. In this case, the SafetyIMPACT! Coach’s Guide is a complete encapsulation of the SafetyIMPACT! process and the user can not only look up information, but watch video, see examples, and even get step by step directions on how to complete individual tasks. This technology can be easily adapted to guide an individual through the completion of all the paperwork associated with the hiring process. Electronic Performance Support Tools can also be used to create an Electronic Employee handbook. A Electronic Performance Support version of your employee handbook creates a dynamic tool that goes far beyond teaching employees the policies and procedures of your company. By creating you handbook using an Electronic Improvement tool your hand book can guide workers through expense reports, travel requests, and a host of important tasks that are performed infrequently.
  • Say: Perhaps the most powerful technology that you can leverage to streamline the New Employee Orientation is your Intranet. From merely being a portal to phone and email directories to providing a storehouse of critical information, your organization’s intranet can play a host of important roles in your New Employee Orientation. Leveraging your Intranet provides these additional benefits: Using the Intranet in New Employee Orientations teaches the new hire how to use the intranet and familiarizes him or her with the navigation and content of the Intranet Because the Intranet is available from the desktop, the new employee can complete much of these activities seated in his or her new workspace.
  • Say: Email systems like Lotus Notes and Microsoft Office are becoming increasingly powerful. Many organizations are taking pains to ensure that newly hired employees have an email and network ID well in advance of their start dates; this is important because email access is expected well from the first day on the job. Emailing important information to the new hire before his or her first day on the job makes a great impression and does much to make the new hire more comfortable coming aboard.
  • Learning Management Systems (LMS)/HR Management Software. Many Learning Management Systems and HR Management Software systems allow you to establish triggers that can automatically send welcome emails to new employees, forward links to benefit enrollment websites, and even enroll new hires into required training.
  • Say: Be sure to include human touch points. When you leverage technology you are by definition reducing the amount of human interaction in the process. Anyone who has been caught in voicemail limbo knows how frustrating it can be to want to talk to a person and instead be prompted to one automated option from another. You should introduce multiple human touch points into your process to avoid creating the impression that your company can’t be bothered by having an actual person answer the new hire’s questions or provide guidance. Human touch points can be as simple as someone calling to ask whether the new hire prefers “Steve” or “Steven” for his business cards or the recruiter calling “just to check in”. These touch points convey the sense that the organization believes that the most appropriate interaction between people are those that focus on the well being of the employee or that offer help. Monitor progress . Most technology allows us to monitor the progress of an individual, and it’s important that you do so. Just because we are using technology to make our job easier doesn’t mean that we don’t have to do anything. Anticipate questions and support needs. You were a new hire once, weren’t you? Put yourself in the role of the new hire and anticipate the questions, concerns, and apprehensions he or she will likely have and respond to them in person. You can’t automate everything! Establish a positive, welcoming tone . Be sure to establish a positive, warm and welcoming tone. You will need to somehow offset the perception of cold indifference that heavily leveraged technology can sometimes create. Try to avoid the stiff legal language that so often permeates HR policies and employee handbooks. Make it clear whether or not the time spent on these pre-start date activities are paid or unpaid . Just because the employee has two weeks to spend prior to officially joining your firm doesn’t mean that they will be willing to invest several hours of his or her own time completing tasks for which they would ordinarily expect to be paid. If you are expecting to have the employee complete some administrative tasks without pay, you must be careful of the message you are sending. Do you really want to start a relationship by creating the impression that your company expects them to work for free? If your company is not willing to put the new employee on the payroll early consider offering the employee the Friday of the first work week off with pay (without charging for a vacation day). This unexpected boon will provide the new hire a much deserved day off (the first week on the job can be brutal) and will set a tone of gratitude for the tasks they completed on his or her own time. If your company is unable or unwilling to compensate the worker for completing tasks on his or her own time then consider allowing the worker to complete these tasks from his or her own work area instead of at the training center or HR. Doing so also provides the additional benefit of creating ownership of the New Employee Orientation by the hiring department.
  • Do: Review and summarize the bullets.
  • Leveraging Technology In The New Employee Orientation Process

    1. 1. Leveraging Technology to Streamline the New Hire Training and Course Evaluation Phil La Duke O/E Learning Presents…
    2. 2. Introduction <ul><li>Housekeeping </li></ul><ul><li>Introductions </li></ul>
    3. 3. Goals of New Employee Orientation <ul><li>Introduce the new employee to our corporate culture </li></ul><ul><li>Set a tone and help the employee to transition smoothly and reduce the stress of starting a new job </li></ul><ul><li>Complete all necessary paperwork and mandatory training </li></ul><ul><li>Reduce the “dead time” between hiring and working in the new position </li></ul>
    4. 4. Why Worry About it Now? <ul><li>Things have really changed around here </li></ul><ul><li>We have time to plan </li></ul><ul><li>Upswings follow Downturns </li></ul><ul><li>We will likely have to hire while we have smaller staffs </li></ul><ul><li>We have to do more with less resources </li></ul>
    5. 7. Why Leverage Technology? <ul><li>Reduces the time necessary to orient a new hire </li></ul><ul><li>Frees up training and HR personnel to focus on more substantive activities </li></ul><ul><li>Allows more flexibility </li></ul><ul><li>Acclimates the new employee to the company culture in a safe setting </li></ul><ul><li>Helps to assess skills prior to the new employee’s start date </li></ul><ul><li>Avoids information overload </li></ul>
    6. 8. Technologies We Can Leverage <ul><li>Recorded Media </li></ul><ul><li>Internet/web </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Virtual Orientations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Online Safety Courses </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Online pretesting and “test out” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Electronic Performance Support tools </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Completion of benefits and legal paperwork </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Electronic Employee handbook </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Intranet </li></ul><ul><li>Email </li></ul><ul><li>Learning Management Systems/HR Management Software </li></ul>
    7. 9. Recorded Media <ul><li>Video </li></ul><ul><li>DVDs </li></ul>
    8. 10. Internet/web <ul><ul><li>Virtual Orientations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Online Safety Courses </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Online pretesting and “test out” </li></ul></ul>
    9. 11. Electronic Performance Support tools <ul><ul><li>Completion of benefits and legal paperwork </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Electronic Employee handbook </li></ul></ul>
    10. 12. Sample Electronic Performance Support tool <ul><li>Insert screen capture </li></ul>
    11. 13. Intranet <ul><li>Reinforces the use of the intranet in day-to-day activities </li></ul><ul><li>Familiarizes the new hire with the navigation and content of the Intranet </li></ul><ul><li>Available from the desktop </li></ul>
    12. 14. Email <ul><li>Increasingly more powerful </li></ul><ul><li>Can interface with other software to send out auto notifications </li></ul><ul><li>Can help to make the new hire feel welcome. </li></ul>
    13. 15. Learning Management Systems/HR Management Software <ul><li>Can trigger auto emails </li></ul><ul><li>Can trigger enrollment in class </li></ul><ul><li>Can be used to monitor progress </li></ul>
    14. 16. Be careful… <ul><li>Be sure to include human touch points </li></ul><ul><li>Monitor progress </li></ul><ul><li>Anticipate questions and support needs </li></ul><ul><li>Establish a positive, welcoming tone </li></ul><ul><li>Make it clear whether or not the time spent on these pre-start date activities are paid or unpaid </li></ul>
    15. 17. Technology and Course Evaluation <ul><li>Level 1 </li></ul><ul><li>Level 2 </li></ul><ul><li>Level 3 </li></ul>
    16. 18. Conclusion <ul><li>Technology can greatly improve the speed and </li></ul><ul><li>efficiency of the New Employee Orientation process </li></ul><ul><li>As training resources are more and more scarce technology will play an increasing role in activities like the New Employee Orientation </li></ul><ul><li>It’s important to counter balance technology with human interaction </li></ul><ul><li>Questions? </li></ul>
    17. 19. Thank You! This presentation is available at www.safety-impact.com.
    18. 20. <ul><li>Phil La Duke </li></ul><ul><li>Director, Performance Improvement </li></ul><ul><li>O/E </li></ul><ul><li>2125 Butterfield, Suite 300N </li></ul><ul><li>Troy, MI 48084 </li></ul><ul><li>248-860-1086 </li></ul><ul><li>www.safety-impact.com </li></ul>