Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Build Your Own Orientation

We’ve had some discussions on campus recently about new employee orientation, which starts in a few weeks. The general consensus seems to be that some sort of orientation is called for, but nobody seems terribly happy with the current version.

The constituency for the orientation is new employees across the college. That means faculty, but it also means full-time staff from various offices. (The faculty start with the staff for the first week, then have a separate series of faculty-only meetings focusing mostly on classroom issues.) The idea is to help the newbies put faces to names and offices; to go through some basic information on employee benefits; to make some statements about the mission of the college and its commitments to fairness and diversity; and to introduce a few basic policies.

In the past, it was a two-day event, with fairly significant griping by the end of the second day.

Then it morphed to a one-day event with a series of 90-minute followups monthly for a semester. By the end of the semester, though, attendance flagged badly.

Since many sets of eyes are better than one, I’m hoping to crowdsource a solution to this. Given that certain institutional needs have to be met -- for legal reasons, for example, it’s useful to be able to say that everyone was introduced to the sexual harassment policy -- is there a way to make new employee orientation more useful and compelling for the new employees?

Do you remember anything particularly good (or awful) about your own orientation? If you could have constructed it , what would you have done differently? (And no, “Not having one” is not an option.)