Thursday, February 26, 2009

Things I learned in a committee meeting

I was volunteered for a committee (I think this happened while I was on vacation). The committee's task is to figure out ways to optimize the employee experience based on results from a GAP survey from last fall.

One of the items on the agenda: Figure out a way to improve new employee on-boarding.

Since I was the newest employee on the committee (everyone else had been with the university 5 years or longer), I wound up talking more than I had intended.

What interested me most about the conversation was how apparent everyone's biases are.

One area of discussion - figuring out ways to get new employees (and everyone else) the information they need to answer small questions. Especially small questions that would only be of interest to the IT department. Questions such as:

- How do I get access to our Enterprise system?
- Which group builds the online tutorials?
- Who is responsible for interface programming and what is their intake process if you need help?

We have a university-wide portal (a little tricky to find information in, but it's there).

We have a departmental web site (which is also tricky to use and appears somewhat outdated). I'm not sure whether the original intent of the site was for outside use or as only a departmental resource. I get the feeling it was originally meant for outside access.

The HR person facilitating the meeting admitted she could be used as a resource for HR-type questions. Her job is to serve as the liason between the department and the general HR department anyway.

I hate to call it a brainstorming session since the group seemed to be looking for more fully fleshed out solutions. A facilitated straight brainstorming session would have been very useful - I think we need ideas first. Nevertheless, some of the comments were quite telling.

There was more than one person who's first reaction was "let's print an employee handbook." I have a couple of employee handbooks somewhere on my bookshelf. I haven't opened them since orientation 15 months ago. I look online. The information there is more current anyway.

Throughout the meeting, I kept thinking a Wiki would be useful. These are IT folks. I know at least a couple of people around the table were familiar with them.

I hesitated to mention the Wiki as an idea. Not sure what caused me to pause there. Probably the concerns about implementation - and these folks were looking for fully formed solutions, ideally with full implementation plans to give to the managers.

Hopefully, we can get away from the knee-jerk "let's print a handbook" to solve our information woes.


Anonymous said...

New employee on-boarding has been around for many years. It was previously called, "new employee orientation."

Regardless of what you call the process, what the new employee most wants to know is the "rules of the road."

As a lawyer who practices business and employment law, a former executive and founder of, the "Rules of the Road" for employees can best be found in an effective Employee Handbook Policy Manual that complies with both federal and state law.

First, the Employee Handbook sets out the rules for successful employment - - what the Company expects of an Employee. The Employee Handbook also sets out what the Employee can expect from the Company.

Just printing an employee handbook can be a dangerous prospect. Just consider the state and federal laws that must be followed by both the Employer and Employee. For example, has over 100 policy areas (state and federal)in each Employee Handbook for businesses. In our Restaurant and Fast Food Restaurant Employee Handbook, there is over 150 policy areas in covered.

As you can see, "let's print a handbook" may not be such a good idea for New Employee On-boarding unless the handbook gives good guidance to the new employee whom you spent time and money recruiting.

Unknown said...

Very true…Employee handbook is very useful to both the employer and the employee. Staff handbook would help the employer to easily communicate the company policies and legal legislations to their employees and get the acceptance for the same.