Fix People Problems with a Great Orientation Process

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Business Advice

Once you have identified and successfully hired the best candidate for the job, starting them off on the right foot is critical to getting a fast return on your investment. An orientation process will not only benefit your new hire, but will also benefit your company, your team, and—most importantly—your customers! The people that make up your team are like links in a chain, so it’s crucial that every new hire is set up to succeed from day one to avoid becoming the “weakest link”.

By investing some time to provide your new employees with an orientation process, you will ensure they become aware of all responsibilities, expectations and hazards to begin supporting your company right away. Furthermore, it will make it clear that everyone in your company is accountable to process.  If you ignore systems and process, your employees will follow your lead, and when your employees ignore your systems, you can be sure that your company’s safety, productivity, and quality will all suffer. 

In this article we’ll review some guidelines that will help you implement a successful post-hire and orientation process. 

The risks of not using a post-hire and orientation system

Not following a post-hire and orientation system will result in wasted productivity in the form of:

  • Confused, hesitant, and unengaged employees
  • Higher employee turn-over rates
  • Frustrated supervisors
  • Frustrated customers
  • Decreased productivity and efficiency
  • An increased risk of accidents/incidents
  • Increased equipment maintenance and repair costs

People follow the path of least resistance. As soon as you ignore a process, your people will start to pick and choose processes that they think they can ignore, and your company will pay for it in lower productivity and profits.

The value of an employment contract

Make sure your new employee has signed an employment contract prior to their and that a copy has been added to their employee file prior to their first day. A good, clearly written employment contract can prevent disputes or legal problems that can end up costing your company a lot of time and money.

Start the first day right by sending a welcome message

After your new employee has signed the employment contract to officially join your team, send them a welcome message via e-mail or letter. This letter should ensure you eliminate problems on the first day by including the following items:

  • Start date and time
  • Required personal protective equipment
  • Required tools and equipment
  • A reminder to bring their driver’s license, abstract, and any required certifications on their first day (for the office file)

Preparing the right forms and policies

Your office should prepare all the required forms and paperwork in preparation for the new employee’s first day, including:

  • Employee Handbook (Operations Manual), which includes:
    • Health + safety policy
    • Employment policy
    • Signoff Documents:
      • Health and Safety Policy
      • Terms of Employment
      • Receipt of Employee Handbook
      • New Employee Orientation Procedure
      • Personal Protective Equipment Signoff
      • Benefits waivers (if applicable)
    • Income Tax Source Deduction forms
    • Add the new employee to the company’s vehicle insurance policy (if applicable)

Preparing personal protective equipment (PPE)

If your company provides PPE to its employees (e.g. safety boots, safety glasses, gloves, respirator, etc.), prepare these items so they can be issued to the employee on their first day along with the personal equipment signoff form. 

All new or existing employees must sign off when they receive company-issued PPE. This practice will reinforce your commitment to safety to the employee and will help protect your company in case of an accident/incident.

Preparing an employee file  

To keep your records organized, you need to ensure that an employee file is created for each new employee that contains all their information and forms, including: 

  • General Employment Information
  • Signoffs
  • Payroll Records
  • Performance Appraisals
  • Training and Development Records
  • Health + Safety Records
  • Employee Relations
  • Employee Separations

If your new employee is required to operate any equipment or vehicles as part of their job duties, you must include photocopies of their:   

  • Driver’s license
  • Driver’s abstract (record of citations, violations, etc.)
  • Any/all certifications

Organized employee files are critical for maintaining good employee records. In the case of an accident, investigation, lawsuit, or other unexpected event, you will not regret having invested the time and effort required to implement an employee information filing procedure. Avoiding even one significant fine or penalty by producing the proper paperwork in a clear and timely manner will save your company months or even years of work trying to recover the costs.     

Providing an orientation

Every new employee must complete the orientation process, regardless of their position, experience, or whether or not they already received health and safety training in the past. Additionally, employees who are switching roles within the company must also complete an orientation (this is because their original orientation was geared towards the previous role, and their new role will involve a new set of health and safety considerations).

A basic orientation must include the following items: 

  • A review of your company’s health and safety policy
  • A tour of your yard/shop (including washrooms and water-facilities)
  • Location of first aid kits, medical facilities, fire extinguishers, and fire exits
  • A review of your yard/shop emergency evacuation plan & meeting place
  • A review of your policy regarding lunch and break periods
  • Location of area where personal belongings may be kept (i.e. clothes, personal tools, lunch)
  • A review of personal protective equipment
  • A review of the procedure for reporting unsafe conditions and jobsite hazards
  • A review of the procedure for near miss, non-injury accidents
  • A review of the accident reporting policy and form
  • A review of the disciplinary policy
  • An introduction to the equipment, tools, and other hazards that the employee will be working around
  • A review of the schedule for any legislated training
  • Obtaining the employee’s signoff on the Health + Safety Policy and all other applicable policies

The best way to ensure that everyone receives a proper orientation is to effectively delegate this responsibility to your supervisors, who must have a clear understanding of the importance and benefits of this initial process.  

Final Thoughts

Confusion, disappointment, injuries, fines; there are many potential consequences of not applying a proper post-hire and orientation process. And what does it boil down to? Waste. A waste of time, productivity, and profit.  

Applying a proper post-hire and orientation process will go a long way to eliminate this waste. Instead of being confused when a new employee joins your team, your people will know exactly what needs to be done to get them started right every time. Instead of being disappointed by experiencing a disorganized first week and rethinking their decision to join your team, your new employee will be confident in their role and respect your commitment to process.

It isn’t always easy, but winning isn’t easy either, and when it comes to ensuring the success of your business, failure is not an option. As long as your team understands the importance of working efficiently and how it benefits your company, and thus benefit them, they will learn to value following these important systems and processes.

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