A biweekly publication for faculty and staff

New Employee Orientation Gets an Interactive, Engaging Overhaul

March 15, 2017

Employees sit in an auditorium waiting for a program to start.It’s not easy being the new kid on the block. At UC Merced, where close to 900 full-time staff are employed, navigating the workplace as a new hire can be overwhelming. For many, the campus’s New Employee Orientation program felt like drinking from a fire hose — a blast of information that was difficult to fully retain.

For the past year, Human Resources has sought to change that. What can be done to make sure new employees know everything they need while also identifying how they fit into the larger UC Merced community?

The answer lies in a solution created by professional development duo Rachael Martin and Yazil Navarro. Martin, the department’s talent development manager, and Navarro, the learning and professional development manager, have spent the past year on an outcome-based orientation program that will position new hires for success.

The program is designed to engage employees via participatory and experiential learning exercises delivered in the following three phases:

  • Online: Upon hire, the new employee will gain access to an introductory e-book and video, which contain critical information and deadlines for the first three months on the job.
  • Live: After the online introduction, the new employee and his/her supervisor will attend an experiential orientation that helps the new hire to identify core values and align them with UC Merced’s vision to help propel the organization forward.
  • Ongoing: The Build Your Network program is an optional six-month onboarding program led by campus ambassadors that offers social, cultural and professional guidance to newcomers as they further acclimate to life at UC Merced.

“We want employees to feel comfortable bringing their creativity and their passion to UC Merced,” Martin said. “During the live orientation sessions, new employees will be able to identify and communicate the unique qualities they possess and leave with an understanding of how those qualities contribute to an active, engaged campus community.”

As mentioned in a recent staff webcast, the live orientation is mandatory for all new hires, beginning in May. Direct supervisors will be invited and encouraged to attend so that they can participate and partner with their new employee during the onboarding process. “Our goal,” Martin said, “is for supervisors to participate in the onboarding process as much as the new employees.”

After this new orientation model is fully implemented among new staff, it will be expanded to include established employees so that they, too, can contribute to the creation of a culture of inquiry, discovery and learning at UC Merced.

“We know new experiences, like starting a job or hiring a new employee, are catalysts for change,” Martin said. “It’s a new and exciting time for newcomers and their hiring managers. What we want is for New Employee Orientation to be an environment that cultivates that excitement in a way that’s meaningful and productive.”

The Build Your Network program is seeking experienced UC Merced staff to serve as ambassadors. Ambassadors will help facilitate monthly programs and will offer social, cultural and professional guidance and feedback for newcomers. Applications are due by 5 p.m. March 24 and can be sent via email to staffassembly@ucmerced.edu.