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News Release

August 14, 2006

Structured Job Orientation Leads to Loyal, Motivated Staff, Says U of G Prof

Organizations that offer structured and well-planned orientation programs for new employees are more likely to have motivated, satisfied and committed workers, according to a new study by a University of Guelph professor.

“The bottom line is the more structure there is around the socialization of new employees – informing them about the kind of training they’ll receive and when training will take place — the more likely new employees are to seek information and feedback and view themselves as part of the organization,” said Jamie Gruman, a professor in the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, whose research appears in this month’s issue of Journal of Vocational Behavior.

Employers who make socialization a priority and develop programs to integrate new employees with differing levels of experience and responsibility can expect greater employee retention, productivity, commitment and initiative, he said.

Gruman, who surveyed 140 undergraduate-level co-op education students four months after the completion of their work terms, discovered that those who received a structured introduction to the organization and their jobs were more committed and proactive in seeking feedback and information that helped them perform better on the job and identify ways to exceed their employer’s expectations.

The extent to which newcomers engage in proactive behaviour is a combination of their personal desire for success and the socialization tactics used by the organization they work for, he said.

Although organizations want new employees to succeed in the workplace, most don't know how to facilitate that. In some instances, an employer's weak approach to socialization may actually hinder the success of a person who was enthusiastic and self-motivated coming into his or her new job, he said.

New employees are often given a day of intense training and are bombarded with information that they don’t understand or remember. This leaves them feeling unprepared to do their jobs and as a result they perform poorly, he said. “More structure leads to more information seeking and feedback seeking on the part of the employees. Happy and satisfied employees give organizations a real competitive advantage.”

The first step to developing a solid socialization method is for an organization to identify the goals they have for their employees and carefully develop practices to achieve the desired results, said Gruman. He noted that the first few days or weeks on the job are critical and are often an indicator of employee success.

“Early experiences have a profound impact on people. If socialization is poorly managed it can have long-term repercussions, including high rates of staff turnover, low levels of productivity and negative attitudes among new employees,” he said. “If the organization invests in its employees, the employees are more likely to invest in themselves and in the organization. The benefits for both sides are enormous.”

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt 519 824-4120, Ext. 53338, or Rebecca Kendall, Ext. 56039.

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