How new employees are oriented to their workplace gives them a good indication of how committed the employer is to them and, in turn, how committed they will be to their work.
Employee orientation can be done in a variety of ways. Employees from both Rocky Mountaineer Railtours and Tourism Vancouver have very positive comments to make about their first-day experiences, so we asked both companies to share their successful practices with us.
ROCKY MOUNTAINEER RAILTOURS
Rocky Mountaineer Railtours’ orientation program begins even before the employee starts work, says Debbie Pearmain, formerly from the company’s HR department. A “New Hire Package” is sent out to prospective employees once they have been hired. It includes a letter of offer, the employee handbook, and an introduction to the area where the office is located (a map, list of local restaurants, parking, and even day care options).
When they start work, their names are posted at reception to ensure that the front desk knows who they are and as a heads-up to the rest of the employees. Before the formal half-day orientation session, the supervisor or HR manager introduces the new member to the rest of the staff, including a scheduled trip to Kamloops to meet the staff at that location. The objective of the formal orientation session is to convey to new employees the significance of Rocky Mountaineer’s history and products, vision and values, and the company’s expectations of all staff. The executive vice-president participates in this session to reinforce personally senior management’s commitment to creating the vision, “The most spectacular experiences in the world,” for both guests and employees.
The session concludes with the motivational video Fish:, which is renowned for its theme of creating satisfying work and delighted customers. Rocky Mountaineer’s belief is that you merely set the stage during the orientation. You must then work to keep spirits up, fulfill the expectations you set out during the orientation, and continue to assess the morale on an ongoing basis.
One’s first impression is a lasting one, and Tourism Vancouver recognizes that, doing everything possible to create a positive experience for new employees. That first impression even starts when a resume is submitted; every resume arriving via the Internet is responded to as a matter of company policy. Once a new employee has been hired, orientation focuses on ensuring they feel welcome and comfortable in their new work environment.
Prior to the first day on the job the new employee is sent a welcome package. The package consists of a letter from the president, Tourism Vancouver’s Employee Handbook as well as a gift card for the employee to pick up their favourite hot beverage on their way into the office day one. The first day is spent primarily with the Human Resources Director who begins with a thorough office tour and introduction to everyone in the company. The new employee also meets the president and CEO for a welcome chat. Throughout the day, the new employee is guided through a detailed orientation process that includes reviewing business and best practices; receiving business cards, a name tag, and a list of their key contacts and resources. We also provide a staff photo album and an office floor map for new employees also makes it easier for them to remember names and find fellow employees members without having to ask for help.
Orientation at Tourism Vancouver is an ongoing process lasting around two months, in which each new employee meets at least one representative from each department to learn about the business initiatives, and how, when, and why they’ll interact with their new team. The process concludes with a meeting with the human resources director to collect feedback on the program, which helps ensure that new employees feel equipped with the information to do their job effectively.
No matter what the approach, both companies agree that the most critical success factors for any orientation are treating all new employees equally (whether they are permanent full-time, contract, or seasonal part-time employees) and making them understand and feel part of the big picture.