Online Employee orientation ― introducing new hires to their new environment and giving them the basic information the need to start being productive ― is an important part of human resource management, and an ideal fit for an e-learning solution.
A new hire might have passed his interviews with flying colors, and might even know all there is about the technical aspects of his position, but he still needs to be shown how your company operates, from basic stuff, like were he can get IT assistance, to very important information from a QA and legal perspective, such as what are the policies and standards you follow.
An e-learning system is a perfect fit for employee orientation purposes for several reasons:
– The new employee can take the e-learning orientation course at his own pace, while still getting on with everything else that he has to do in his first days or weeks. Most importantly, he can refer back to it months or years later ― whenever he needs to refresh his knowledge on any of the topics covered in it.
– You don’t have to devote resources (e.g. senior employees) and suffer productivity losses for orientation work.
– An e-learning orientation course can be comprehensive, covering all the needed topics, since you can think about what you need to cover beforehand and ensure that everything is there. Informal, face to face, orientation tours and talks can skip or gloss over several subjects.
– An e-learning orientation course can use the LMS system to track attendance and completion status. This can serve as a legal proof that your company has indeed provided knowledge of stuff like company policy, sexual harassment laws, etc, with the new hire, in case of dispute.
– An e-learning based orientation course can include tests and exercises to measure a new hire’s understanding of the orientation material, and, even better, those tests can be automatically graded by the LMS software.
– A learning management system can serve from tens to hundreds of thousands of students, so it can grow as your company grows. Orientation courses can be specialized per departments and/or job position, and common material can be reused with ease.
– Last, but not least, an LMS is essential for a modern enterprise for things that go far beyond orientation courses. It can be used in sales, in human resources, for compliance training, and of course for general employee training and re-training. If your company already uses an LMS for all the above, then why wouldn’t you also take advantage of it for your employee orientation needs? And if it doesn’t, well, it should.
Of course an e-learning based orientation process doesn’t replace the first face-to-face contact. It’s important for your new hire to be welcomed to his new office by some of his senior colleagues and have a quick tour around the physical space (including the cafeteria or espresso machine).
Your e-learning orientation course can pick up right after that. Here are some things that should be covered:
Company history and culture
A message from the CEO would be a good place to start. Follow by a brief history of the company and its mission statement, values and culture.
Whether your new hires will work in product development or not, your products (and/or services) are what your company is all about. Use the orientation course to get your new employees familiar with them (including some of the product highlights of the company’s past).
Policies and procedures
This is the boring but necessary stuff. Split it into thematic categories, so employees don’t have to watch all of it or hunt for the important parts. That said, don’t forget to mark the important parts appropriately, and even make them compulsory reading material (taking advantage of your LMS platform’s functionality), especially the ones that have to do with legal issues (professional ethics, racial discrimination, sexual harassment, etc), and all things related to your customer service philosophy and policies (especially important if the new employee will serve a customer facing role).
Regarding procedures, a thorough description of your intranet resources, their purpose, and how employees can get accounts and login to them, should also be given. And don’t forget to cover the seemingly trivial procedures, that new hires will have to go through in their first days, like where they can get office supplies (papers, toners), IT equipments and the like.
Another important aspect of company policies are restrictions and guidelines in telephone, e-mail, and internet use. If you wouldn’t want employees to send personal emails from their work account, or turn their office PC into a torrent server, don’t just let it to their common sense: put it in writing.
Give your new hires a sense of what they can achieve and how far they can get by working for your company. Mention the various career paths and career enhancement opportunities afforded to their position. This is a good place to inform your new hire about the benefits your company offers (health & life insurance, retirement plan, etc).
Specific job skills and procedures
Most sections of an orientation course can be quite generic among different departments and employees, but you should also have a special section (or several of them) for everything that pertains to the new hire’s specific position, their roles and responsibilities. This, as is aimed for inclusion in the orientation course, should be kept brief, and not aim to replace employee training courses.
Your orientation course might be given primarily to new hires, but as we mentioned earlier, it can be something employees return to again and again, to refresh their memory or learn about certain policies and procedures.
Other stuff that could fit in your orientation course is useful reference information such as working hours, office organization (files, supplies, etc), campus diagram, organization chart, etc.
Of course we’re only scratching the surface of what an orientation course could offer, but we’re confidents that if you follow the basic advice we offer in this post you’ll be more than half of the way there ― the rest depends upon your particular company and organization, and it can be as complicated or as simple as your operations require.
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