New job, new T-shirt

2007

It's a damming indictment of the talent management policies of corporate American that for more than half, their top strategy for "wowing" new employees is to give them a mug or T-shirt branded with the company logo.

And if that wasn't enough, a new survey by the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) has also revealed that although the vast majority of companies have new-employee orientation programs, most are brief at best and more than one-fifth of employers don't even bother to track their effectiveness.

The survey found that while nearly nine out of 10 companies have a program to orient new employees, around half think that this can be achieved in a day or less, with a further quarter wrapping their inductions in two to three days.

"Considering the current and future war on talent, a new employee's first days are critical when it comes to creating a positive first impression that fosters loyalty," said Jay Jamrog, i4cp senior vice president of research.

"Companies are also missing the boat to not only impress a new employee but also to build upon the strengths and weaknesses of the employee, which were undoubtedly collected in the selection and assessment process."

Indeed as Jamie Gruman, a professor at the University of Guelph in Canada found in research published in 2006, employers who make the socialization of new recruits a priority and develop programmes to integrate them with differing levels of experience and responsibility can expect greater retention, productivity, commitment and initiative.

But i4cp found that far from wowing new employees with a well-conceived and executed programs, more than half simply hand out company-related items like pens, shirts, pads, binders or folders, and 12 percent just do nothing.

"Getting a new T-shirt is nice, but it seems like there are probably better ways of making an impact on new recruits," Jamrog said, with admirable understatement.

"The company should use the opportunity to have new employees communicate and build relationships with leaders in the organization right out of the gate. NEOs also offer a unique opportunity to gather a new recruit's impressions of the marketplace and the company."

When it comes to measuring the effectiveness of their orientation program, nearly half of the companies surveyed said they use employee surveys, one in five measure first-year retention and one in six look at performance ratings.

Yet this still leaves almost a quarter – some 22 percent – that don't bother to track the effectiveness of their NEO programs.

Little wonder, the, that a 2005 study in the UK by jobs' website reed.co.uk revealed that one in 25 workers walked out of a new job after a matter of weeks (some after just days), because their employer failed to manage the induction process properly.

These presumably included the new hire who was left alone in a room for four hours with a pile of videos and another who was told to hop on one leg and sing 'we all live in a yellow submarine' in front of 20 others.

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