The Value of Annual Re-Orientation

If you are not currently conducting an Annual Re-Orientation for your entire staff you are missing out on a valuable opportunity to reconnect them with the service philosophy of your organization, gain their re-commitment to the organization, and to hold them accountable for driving excellence in the year to come.

I was an employee with The Ritz-Carlton organization for over 17 years, and believe it or not, every year I attended Annual Employee Re-Orientation — and never got tired or bored with it. Why? Because it was an organizational goal to ensure that the learning was engaging, informative, interactive, and enjoyable.

Now Annual Employee Re-Orientation was a little different from the standard two-day orientation that new employees participated in. The annual re-orientation program was shorter, typically one day, and while it reinforced many of the same values and principles covered in new employee orientation, it also was an opportunity to get updated on new projects, initiatives, and business opportunities that the company was involved in, and learn how we would contribute to its success.

At The Ritz-Carlton, Annual Employee Re-Orientation was mandatory for all staff, including leadership. But the benefits far exceeded any cost or time incurred, and included:

  • Enhanced alignment and communication across departments
  • Greater employee engagement and teamwork
  • Employees feel that they are “part” of the organization, not just a worker
  • Greater customer satisfaction, because employees were re-energized
  • Company-wide recognition of employees and departments who go above and beyond
  • Increased employee competence, confidence, and commitment to do their jobs
  • Reduction in customers problems and internal defects due to increase competence
  • Increased job satisfaction and value in contributing to the success of the organization

Designing Your Annual Re-Orientation Program

Now that you understand the benefits, I hope it has inspired you to consider scheduling Annual Re-Orientations within your organization. To assist you in doing so, there are a few steps you should follow:

Step 1 – Get Leadership Buy-In: Before you go down the road of creating the program, start by discussing it informally with 3-4 trusted advisors (department heads and senior leaders) within the organization. First sharing what you believe will be the benefits to your organization, then going into brief detail on how you envision the program working. Be open to their questions (positive or negative), as well as their perspective on what will and will not work.

Step 2 – Make a Preliminary Draft the Program: This can be accomplished by asking yourself:

  • What should the agenda include?
  • How long should the program last (half-day or full-day)?
  • Who would be great facilitators/speakers?
  • What time of year is best for Annual Re-Orientation (beginning of the year, mid-year, our busy season, our slow season)?
  • What learning outcomes are expected as a result of attending this program (re-commitment to excellence, increased job competence, company-wide alignment)?
  • What will this cost the organization (in payroll, room and audio visual equipment, food and beverages, printing of training materials)?
  • Will the cost of this training be recouped in its benefits (increase employee engagement, increase customer loyalty, increased revenue, reduced customer dissatisfaction, reduced internal defects)?

Step 3 – Present Your Business Case: I know you may be thinking “what, I don’t have time for this!” But believe me it will be well worth your investment in time, and most likely guarantee the program will be approved and supported by senior leadership. Your business case should answer all of the questions posed in your preliminary draft of the program, and culminate with a basic “cost/benefit analysis” which should confirm that the investment will be recouped in cost-savings due to increased employee engagement, alignment, and productivity.

Two Rules of Thought

In creating your Annual Re-Orientation Program, there are two different approaches: (1) You can have veteran employees attend your current New Employee Orientation program; or (2) You can create a separate program for veteran employees. I have seen both approaches in action, and therefore offer this advice:

· Having veteran employees attend your current New Employee Orientation program will save time, and money. However, they may perceive it as too boring because the information covered it too basic and geared toward new employees. Or, they could become disruptive by asking too many questions that are not relevant to new employees and require more detailed, longer answers than your time allows.

· Having veteran employees attend a separate Annual Re-Orientation Program will cost more in development time, and money. However, it will allow you to focus on key issues that need to be reinforced with veteran employees, dedicate more time to the type of questions and concerns that veteran employees want answered, and create the basis for holding them accountable for driving excellence in their daily work.

Bottom-line, Annual Re-Orientation is a process that many organizations cannot afford to ignore. If done effectively, the upfront investment in time and money will be quickly recouped in employee engagement, customer loyalty, and internal cost-savings.


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