Financial performance can hinge on hiring, orientation details


By Kathy Gurchiek February 26, 2007

Companies that focus on the details of hiring and job orientation and those that don’t do this work experience significant differences in financial performance and employee engagement, according to a review of human resources practices at 50 large U.S. companies by Watson Wyatt Worldwide.

“Few things are more important to a company’s long-term performance than choosing the right employees and ensuring they have the proper outlook from day one,” said Ilene Gochman, an organization effectiveness expert with Watson Wyatt Worldwide.

Companies often overlook hiring and orientation programs as prime opportunities to reinforce corporate goals and motivate employees. Effective recruiting and orientation programs are usually cost effective, she noted, and they are not difficult to change.

And Watson Wyatt’s 2006/2007 WorkUSA survey of more than 12,000 U.S. workers across all job levels and in all major sectors found an organization’s financial performance strongly related to employee engagement.

“The main requirement is to focus on improving communication, both to managers who do the hiring and to new employees themselves,” she said in a press release.

Among the 50 companies Watson Wyatt looked at, 65 percent of those with a highly engaged workforce provide interview training for managers vs. 33 percent of companies with a less engaged workforce, it found.

Also, explaining to new employees why they were hired is a simple, key technique for driving worker engagement, Gochman said.

“Sharing with new hires the attributes that drew the company to them is an easy and meaningful way to begin a productive relationship,” she said. “It gives new employees an immediate tie to the company and a clear understanding of how their skills can be used productively at their new place of employment.

Fifty-two percent of high financial performers provide new hires with such an explanation, vs. 29 percent of low financial performers, Watson Wyatt found.

Lack of employee engagement is a common problem around the globe, HR News reported in February 2006. Getting employees engaged requires the employer to spend time preparing new hires for their jobs.

Taking adequate time to prepare new hires for their roles is important to the employer’s success, according to Gochman.

Those with highly engaged workers spend an average of 35 weeks grooming new employees, compared to only 15 weeks that employers with low employee engagement spend, Watson Wyatt found.

“Preparing employees for their new roles and communicating how they can help the firm meet its goals,” Gochman said, “can go a long way toward determining whether new employees ultimately succeed.”

Kathy Gurchiek is associate editor for HR News. She can be reached at

Related article:

Game On: Using Gaming Technology to Orient New Hires, SHRM Technology Focus Area, January 2007.

Employee Engagement and Organizational Performance: How Do You Know Your Employees Are Engaged? SHRM White Paper, April 2005.

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