Designing new employee orientation programs an empirical study.

AuthorSrimannarayana, M.

The present study is aimed at exploring the policies and practices relating to designing new employee orientation programs in corporate companies in India. Based on the information collected from 46 organizations, the study found that organizations define the role of orientation program, link it with their business strategy and company culture. They assess orientation needs and design the program considering their organizational values and culture. The program design features predominantly teambuilding activities and plant/ workplace visits. It incorporates multiple methods of delivery such as group orientation, buddy program, one-to-one interaction and online modules.


Creating an effective workforce is one of the major challenges of human resource management function. Recruiting, selecting, training, offering career development opportunities, paying market-driven compensation and benefits, and retention strategies get attention to address the challenge. An often-overlooked initiative that can add value and create effective workforce educated in the organizational goals is a new employee orientation program (Westwood & Johnson, 2008). Systematically and comprehensively planned new employee orientation can set the stage for positive, long-lasting relationships between the organization and the employees (Tauber, 1981). It is an effective tool for improving employee satisfaction and contributing to organizational goals (Kanouse & Warihay, 1980). The present study examines the processes involved in designing new employee orientation programs and the issues and concerns associated with this process.

Review of Literature

New employee orientation is traditionally called induction or organizational socialization. Now it is also called 'on boarding' (Dessler & Varkkey, 2013). Skeats (1991) defined staff induction as any arrangement made to familiarize the new employee with the organization, safety rules, general conditions of employment, and the work of the section or department in which they are employed. Induction is seen as the first opportunity for the organization to introduce the cultural norms, values, and work ethics of the organization to the new employee (Arachchige, 2014). As pointed out by Bailey (1993), it is the period during which the organization has a chance to clearly demonstrate its values and quality standards, including those that relate to staff issues. This period is largely responsible for shaping the potential of each individual as an employee. Good induction of new entrants is important to the smooth and efficient running of any organization. Induction program need to be designed to meet the needs both the new hires and the organization.

Ardts, Jansen and Velde (2001) defined organizational socialization as the learning process by which new hires develop attitudes and behavior that are necessary to function as full-fledged members of the organization. According to Tuttle (2002) it includes the entire process of actions taken both by the organization and the newcomer to ensure effective adjustment. Similarly, Goldstein & Ford, (2002) defined new employee orientation as a planned and systematic attempt by the organization to introduce new employees to job duties, organizational expectations, polices, and procedures. Reese (2005) found that although strong models exist, many top companies still leave new executives to find the way through early days--not doing as much as they should to pave the way for the new executive to succeed.

There are studies which established links between new employee orientation and other HRM practices. Feldman (1988) conducted a study which linked organizational socialization programs and policies with other HRM practices. Baker and Feldman (1991) presented a framework to link socialization tactics proposed by Van Maanen and Schein (1979) to HRM. They argued that organizations can achieve the corporate goals by following a three-step approach which includes 1) identifying the corporate strategy being pursued; 2) identifying what types of employee behaviors are requested; and 3) developing a socialization program that can produce the desired behavior types. Klein and Weaver (2000) found that employees attending the orientation training had significantly higher levels of affective organizational commitment than non-attendees.

Bauer, Morrison and Callister (1998) and Cooper-Thomas and Anderson (2006) provided a broad literature review from a psychological perspective of induction and socialization. Bauer, Bodner, Erdogan, Truxi 1 lo and Tucker (2007) tested a model of antecedents and outcomes of new hires adjustment using 70 unique samples of new hires with meta-analytic and path modeling techniques. Specifically, they proposed and tested a model in which adjustment (role clarity, self-efficacy, and social acceptance) mediated the effects of organizational socialization tactics and information seeking on socialization outcomes (job satisfaction, organizational commitment, job performance, intentions to remain, and turnover).

Contrary to psychological perspective, Antonacopoulou and WolfgangGuttel (2010) offered a practice perspective including a range of additional themes in relation to HRM, organizational memory and organizational routines. They paid attention to the importance of exploring the connections between staff induction, socialization, and organizational recreation by focusing in particular on learning and knowledge. They highlighted inter-and intra-practice dynamics of staff induction and socialization. According to them, a practice perspective embraces tensions as a natural part. Acevedo and Yancey (2011) argued that although western organizations are revamping their orientation programs, western culture still seems to foster a mediocre orientation process. In a comparative study, Liao, Handayani and Chien (2011) found that most Japanese companies have more structures and formal orientation training for newcomers than Indonesian companies. In the Indian context, Billimoria (1970) considered induction, a technique by which new employees are rehabilitated into the changed surroundings. Chatterjee (1978) opined that no personnel function is perhaps more neglected in Indian industries than induction. VenkataRatnam and Srivastava (1998) viewed that proper induction would enable the employee to get off to a good start and to develop overall effectiveness on the job and enhance potential.


This study aimed at exploring the practices relating to designing new employee orientation programs conducted by different organizations in India. A questionnaire was created to elicit information from the sampled organizations on the prevailing policies, procedures and practices pertaining to various aspects of designing new employee orientation programs in their respective organizations. This questionnaire consisted of some open ended questions for which the respondent organization has to give descriptive information, two-way questions for which the respondent organizations have to give 'yes' or 'no' answers, and multiple-choice questions. The latter part of the questionnaire covered questions relating to organizational details. The HR/ learning and development professionals of the respective organizations who were involved in designing orientation program, were requested to fill-up the questionnaire. The information was collected...

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