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Breathing Life into your New Hire Orientation Program


I spent some time over the weekend reading Built on Values: Creating an Enviable Culture that Outperforms the Competition (here’s a brief review).

Early in the book, Ann Rhoades describes an overhauled new employee orientation program at Loma Linda University Medical Center. 

…the orientation formerly consisted of “laying out the rules in a fairly perfunctory and mind-numbing way…” The hospital group now calls orientation “Living Our Values Day” and tried to make it fun and participatory, The day is hosted by the CEO or a senior VP, and much of the first day is spent discussing stories about our values and letting employees talk about their values. And rather than presenting a lecture about employee benefits, the leaders take the new hires on a tour of things like the fitness center… The more boring elements, required by compliance, are livened up with a team-based quiz show and generous prizes for knowledge. And at the end of the day, new employees are asked to fill out a personal commitment card. This will be opened in ninety days by the employee and a supervisor together.

I’m enjoying this book because it offers evidence-based research on the connection between a “soft” element of an organization (culture) and “hard” performance and results metrics.

It also points out that unless “boring” and “wasteful” are among your organizational values, there’s no reason that a new hire’s first several days on the job can’t be highly engaging. Indeed, new hire orientation sets the tone for an employee’s tenure. Why not make it meaningful?

You should also check out the two part case study about revitalizing a new hire orientation: An New Employee Orientation Overhaul and The Exciting Conclusion: What Happens When A New Hire Orientation Becomes a Game.

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