Different Generations and the Orientation Process
Last week I worked with an HR team to explore how generational identities impact people practices. Specifically, we spent time exploring how their current orientation process could be enhanced to better tap into the values, expectations and behaviours of a multigenerational workforce. Our discussion included understanding how to create a process that will best leverage managers and team members to create a great experience for new hires.
The Goal of Orientation
Some organizations do it better than others, but regardless if it is a formal process or ad hoc, every employee goes through some form of orientation when they join a new company. The key question is; is your current process effective?
The goal of an effective orientation program is to:
- Welcome new employees to the team
- Inculcate your corporate values
- Build networks across the department and/or organization
- Set employees up for success by clearly outlining their role responsibilities
- Provide employees with the knowledge required to effectively navigate your business environment
- Seal the psychological deal
To achieve these goals, your orientation process will need to incorporate a number of different types of activities. Ideally, they will be scheduled over a few days or weeks and will be clearly outlined for everyone involved. Our clients who have been most successful have designed tools that support both managers and employees in completing the following activities:
- First day set-up kit – all security, technology, administration completed
- Team meeting to welcome the new employee
- Introduction to the leadership team and key stakeholders
- Meeting with a mentor / buddy
- Setting expectations for the first 90 days – employee and manager
- Establishing training plan
- Review of performance management and rewards program
- Meet and greet with HR
- Booking regular touch point meetings within the first 30, 60, 90 days
Your Role as a Host
As a manager or HR leader, your role during the orientation process is to act as a friendly host. Think of the experience the same way you would if you were planning an event for your friends, family or clients. Ask yourself:
- How do you invite people to the event? Send a welcome package prior to Day 1 to let the new employee know you are excited to meet him/her. Personalize the experience.
- How do you greet people at your event? Do you guide employees on where to go and what to do when they arrive? Or are they left to just sink or swim and figure it out themselves?
- How you ensure that everyone has a good time at your event? Make introductions to the team, identify where colleagues might have mutual interests. Take time to learn about the new employee and involve them right away in team discussions.
If we view the orientation process as an important event that we are hosting, we will apply the same principles of graciousness, appreciation, formality, excitement and professionalism as we would when hosting a client or personal event. This approach ensures that new employees feels welcomed and they can quickly and effectively integrate into the team.
A Generational Perspective
Keep in mind when evaluating your current process, that the different generations will have different expectations of your orientation process, in particular Gen Xers and Gen Ys. While Traditionalists and Baby Boomers were accustomed to a less formal orientation experience, Gen Xers want to have a clear understanding up-front of how the promises that were made during the recruitment process are going to come true. They will want to review the programs (flex time, performance management, rewards, learning, etc) to ensure alignment with their expectations. They will also want to ensure all performance expectations are objectively set and agreed upon.
Gen Ys will expect a highly personalized experience. They will be seeking an understanding of how their role will impact the big picture – at a team, department, organizational level – and how they will be able to contribute right away. Given this generation’s desire for collaboration, it will be important to help them quickly join team events, cross functional groups, and leverage your technology to connect with others in the organization.
Understanding what engages the different generations is the first step. Being able to enhance your process to ensure it meets all employee expectations will help you be more successful in hosting a great orientation ‘event’ that achieves your goals.
As president and co-founder of n-gen People Performance Inc., Giselle is dedicated to building strategies and programs that target, motivate and engage a multigenerational workforce. She is a sought after resource to industry leaders, having worked with 18 of the top Fortune 500 companies. Over 60,000 people globally have experienced an n-gen workshop or presentation. She has devoted more than fifteen years to researching the impact that generational differences have on organizational performance. Giselle has co-authored two books: Loyalty Unplugged: How to Get, Keep & Grow All Four Generations and Upgrade Now: 9 Advanced Leadership Skills. She has a Master’s degree in communication studies from the University of Windsor.