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Employee Retention Part 2 - The Retail Furniture Employee Orientation

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Welcome to the second installment of employee retention articles, where we will explore the first step to take in implementing an effective employee retention strategy.

Orientation is your finest opportunity to reinforce the culture of your organization and to ensure the safety and comfort of your new crew. What happens in the few days surrounding orientation will affect your new recruit for the remainder of their career with your company.

One of the top needs of employees, according to numerous studies, is to know that their employer cares about them. You can be sure that if a new person starts off and can’t find the washroom, doesn’t know coworkers names, and eats lunch alone – that it’s going to be pretty much downhill from there. Inexpensive gestures such as a computer banner or welcome flowers can go a long way.

For example, Jennifer Hawes, co-owner of Cold Star Freight, takes employee orientation seriously. Hawes ensures that new employees have connected with at least one other staff in the first week. Cold Star Freight is a B.C. based freight company with an enviable track record in both employee retention and company growth. It’s not a coincidence!

Here are some important considerations when developing your orientation program:

Tell the Truth!

What? Really. As you introduce the new hire around, tell them about the organization. What really matters? Tell them about your proudest moments and achievements. Don’t get caught in the mumbo-jumbo rhetoric of “organization speak.” If you don’t really invite employee input, don’t list it as your credo.  Or, as Yarish puts it, “If you don’t have beer in your water cooler , don’t imply that you do!”

Safety First!

The US Bureau of Labour Statistics reports that 23 percent of all injuries occur within the first four hours on the job. Safety simply cannot wait for tomorrow’s agenda. Particularly among youth, the combination of new job exuberance and lack of experience can literally be a deadly combination.  Safety rules, location of escapes, first aid equipment and hazardous areas should be demonstrated – not just provided in a safety manual.

Right Next to Safety – Celebration!

Traditionally, organizations hold a party or celebration when someone leaves the organization. That custom seems a bit backward to me. How about a party when they first arrive?

The Big Picture

Staff need to understand how their role fits within the big picture of the organization. No one operates alone in any business – it is our interconnectedness that makes us all productive. Provide a compelling vision of exactly what your company hopes to achieve, and help them understand how they fit in to this picture. 

Set Goals and Benchmarks , Not Policies & Procedures

Let’s assume you’ve hired staff with the right fit and competencies and experience required. When employees are clear about expectations and performance goals, how many policies and procedures do you really need? You need some – no argument. But don’t burden a new employee with a 3-inch binder of policies and procedures – instead, match them up with a colleague who can provide mentorship through the orientation period.

New employee orientation is not an event, it’s a process. There is real payoff to starting your crew on the right foot. All of this leads to developing employee loyalty.  More next week on igniting loyalty and its role in employee retention.

Dawn McCooey is the author of  “Keeping Good Employees On Board”. More information can be found at the following Amazon.com link.