March 20: Researcher Develops Socialization Process to Help Smooth the Way for New Hires
“Organizational onboarding” is the area of study that most interests Department of Business Associate Professor Jamie Gruman. Organizational onboarding is the socialization process organizations use to help new hires adjust to new roles and jobs. For larger organizations onboarding is a deliberate process, a function of HR to acclimatize newcomers. Smaller organizations may not even consider the importance of this process.
“Successful onboarding can significantly impact productivity and turnover, and reduce costs for employers,” Gruman explained.
After a thorough review of the academic and practitioner literature on onboarding and by analysing data collected through surveys administered to young new hires, Gruman developed a new approach to onboarding called Socialization Resources Theory (SRT). This theory represents a major advance in the research and practice of onboarding and presents seventeen specific, actionable management practices that organizations can implement to successfully onboard new employees. These practices include formal orientation, mentoring, social events, “how to” information provided by coworkers, and feedback from the employer, to name a few.
Gruman is looking at how the actionable practices in SRT can promote positive outcomes such as psychological capital (PsyCap) in newcomers. PsyCap may be broadly defined as positive states characterized by hope, optimism, confidence, and resilience.
Obviously PsyCap is very important to both the employer and the employee. For the employee, it impacts performance, engagement, job satisfaction, commitment, absenteeism, and even workplace spirituality—that is, their ability to connect with a higher purpose at work.
Prof. Gruman, who completed his MA in clinical psychology and Ph.D in applied social psychology, became interested in this area of research as a result of his own experiences with unsuccessful onboarding.
My professional goal is to popularize Socialization Resources Theory so that it becomes a best practice globally,” Gruman said.
This will be accomplished by advocating a shift in research and practice in organizational socialization towards one based on socialization resources and positive organizational outcomes that benefit employees and organizations.
My personal goal is to better understand the well-being of newcomers as they make career transitions and to help people transition successfully. This includes transitions involving first-time jobs, promotions to leadership roles, transfers, international assignments, and even the transition into retirement.
Gruman touches on SRT in the Organizational Behaviour course he teaches (BUS 2090) and hopes to help smooth his students’ school-to-work transitions.
To learn more about Prof. Gruman’s research in this area, see his article entitled “ Organizational socialization and positive organizational behaviour: implications for theory, research, and practice” published in March 2011 in the Canadian Journal of Administrative Sciences and made available online at the Wiley Online Library.
By Brenda L. Murray