Ditch the ‘Bore-ientation’

Develop rock star employees in record time

By Theresa Minton-Eversole June 24, 2014

ORLANDO, FLA—The onboarding process traditionally takes a back seat to many companies’ other staffing functions, which is unfortunate considering the unrealized business impact and the amount of money left on the table when these programs are ignored.

This fact wasn’t lost on Louisville, Ky.-based home health care provider Hosparus. Until recently the company, which has 525 employees working from four locations in two states, held orientations every two weeks for anywhere from two to 10 employees at a cost of $22,000 per employee, said Erika Tedesco, Hosparus’ manager of education and training, during her June 24 session, “28 Days and Done: Creating an Inclusive Orientation Experience,” here at the SHRM 2014 Annual Conference & Exposition.

The orientation included two days of general training, three days of professional orientation, and six weeks of on-the-job training and job-shadowing—pretty typical components for many organizations’ programs, she said. Borrring! But the bigger issue was that this process was costing a lot of money and yielding inconsistent results.

“We were taking 10 weeks to orient a new employee and didn’t really know what they were taking away from the process,” she said. “This was inefficient, costly and left our [subject matter experts] to carry the majority of the burden for employees’ training,” even though there had been no standards set for them to follow to ensure consistent learning outcomes.

So Hosparus set out to redesign its orientation program, with the goal of ensuring that new employees were capable of working independently within 28 days.

“It doesn’t matter how long your 28 days is,” she said. “The idea is to [hone the process that] takes your new employees from Day 1 to Day Ready.”

The company began its process by assessing the state of its current orientation program. Tedesco said it’s important to determine who and what should be assessed, and how.

“How much does it cost to orient your new hires? If you don’t know, you have a problem” from the start, she said.

Tedesco said the company also learned, by surveying the education department and other key stakeholders, that it was hiring people who weren’t particularly computer-savvy, which was keeping them from being as effective as they could be on the job.

When surveying staff, target two to three different groups to get different perspectives on what’s working and what isn’t, she advised, adding that this also helps gain buy-in. “The entire organization was really jazzed about this because everyone could see how they were adding value to the process,” she noted.

The resulting orientation program includes an integrated learning approach that merges corporate, departmental and role-specific orientation to prepare new employees for their jobs. Curriculum is designed as a tiered experience, with the first week being general company training that all staff receive. This is followed by a week of professional training and two weeks of job-specific training. Sessions are conducted in corporate facilities that include computer and skills labs, as well as a simulation lab that looks like a typical home-based setting that most employees would work in.

Though Hosparus spent $500,000 building these facilities, Tedesco said, “You don’t have to spend a lot of money to support this kind of training. You can get very creative with your resources.”

Measuring Success

To date, the return on investment includes:

  • Reduced time in formal orientation.
  • Reduced personnel expenses.
  • Increased quality of work product.
  • Increased efficiency.

Overall employee satisfaction increased, too, which has reduced turnover. “People are really excited to get a complete-package orientation that helps them understand the company’s goals and their role in helping to achieve them,” Tedesco said. “The best part of this process is that I get to see the positive results that our orientation has on employees’ performance and get immediate feedback on what’s working and what’s not.”

Theresa Minton-Eversole is an editor with SHRM Online.


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