Constraints on Recruitment

					Recruitment and Selection Study Notes

Constraints on Recruitment
The constraints faced by recruiters arise from the organization, the recruiter, and the external environment. Some of the
more noteworthy constraints are discussed in the following paragraphs.

Organizational Policies
Organizational policies exist to ensure uniformity, economies, public relations benefits, legal compliance, and other
objectives. For example, some organizations have "promote-from-within" policies that give preference to filling job
openings internally. Although recruiting is still used to fill openings, particularly entry-level positions, recruiters are expected
to ensure internal applicants are not overlooked. Likewise, compensation policies also affect recruitment. Pre-established
pay ranges may limit the number of viable recruits, particularly if the pay ranges are low in comparison with market rates.
Policies on hiring part-time and temporary workers and policies on hiring relatives may expand or limit a recruiter's options.
When the employer operates internationally, policies favouring local nationals also shape recruitment possibilities.

Human resource plans and affirmative action programs give guidance and constrain recruiters. The human resource plan
should help identify likely candidates for internal promotions and transfers. At the same time, the human resource plan
may summarize future recruiting needs, so that recruiters can plan to fill future openings proactively. Affirmative action
programs usually contain goals recruiters are expected to pursue through their efforts. When severe underutilization exists
in some areas, recruiters often are under considerable pressure to find applicants that further the affirmative action plan.

Recruiters develop habits.
They become used to looking for certain types of applicants through specific sources. Although such habits save time and
effort, they may perpetuate past discrimination or create an imbalance with recruits who have similar backgrounds.

Environmental conditions also affect recruitment. The stage of the economic business cycle, the relative scarcity of
particular skills, and competition in the labour market from other employers limit the options available to recruiters.
Finally, of course, the requirements of the job are a constraint. Operating managers may be seeking someone with a
considerable number of years of experience. These same managers may not believe someone's background is suitable to
the job. In general, the more skilled the position and the greater the experience desired by operating managers, the more
difficult the position is to fill.

Channels of Recruitment
Within the wide net of constraints facing recruiters, a variety of sources or channels are used to find new workers. Since
research indicates that most applicants use two or more channels to find out about employment, most recruiters use
multiple channels, also. The mix of sources used by recruiters obviously depends on their assessment of which approach
will be most successful for the different types of applicants they seek.

Walk-Ins and Write-Ins
Walk-ins are applicants who appear seeking employment. Write-ins are those who apply by mail. Most of these applicants
are unskilled or semiskilled. However, for public relations reasons and because some walk-in applicants are appropriate
for the company's openings, most employers use this source of applicants.

Employee Referrals
Some applicants are referred to the employer by present employees. In fact, some human resource departments
encourage employee referrals. This approach is especially effective when trying to locate hard-to-find workers because job
incumbents often know others with similar skills. Of course, those firms that rely heavily on this method risk perpetuating
any past discrimination against protected groups.

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Recruitment and Selection Study Notes

Most people are familiar with newspaper ads. Other types of advertisements include those placed in specialized journals
that reach specific groups of workers with identifiable skills. Some firms have experimented with electronic media,
particularly radio.

When an ad is placed that does not identify the employer, it is called a "blind ad." These ads are useful to avoid large
numbers of walk-in applicants and phone calls. Also, they let the human resource department seek recruits without alerting
competitors or worrying present employees about their job security.

Human Resources Development Canada Employment Centres
HRDC Employment Centres seek to match job openings with applicants. Although they often are viewed as a source of
unskilled workers, more and more employers are listing all their job openings with these agencies to publicize the fact that
they are an equal opportunity employer. Since matching applicants with openings can reduce unemployment levels, the
funding and success of these centres is likely to grow in coming years.

Private Placement Agencies
Private placement agencies are organizations that exist to match applicants and job openings for a fee. The fee is usually
paid by the employer. (Usually it is 10 percent of the first year's salary.) These agencies use advertisements and other
methods to ensure a steady flow of applicants who can be found for employers with job openings.

Professional Search Firms
Professional search firms, sometimes called "headhunters," help employers locate recruits with particularly hard to-find
technical or managerial skills. They differ from placement agencies in that search firms actually contact specific
individuals, who are usually employed at the time by other firms, and ask them to apply for openings. Their success is
based in part on the fact that many desirable applicants are satisfied where they are working presently and are unaware of
openings in other companies.

Educational Institutions
When employers seek entry-level workers who are not required to have extensive experience, educational institutions are
another source of potential applicants. Unskilled employees from high schools, skilled and semiskilled workers from trade
schools technical employees from community colleges, and technical or professional workers from universities are sought
by large employers.

Professional Associations
When highly skilled professionals are needed, one source is professional associations. Many such associations operate
placement services for members. The big advantage to recruiters is that these associations have a high concentration of
skilled professionals.

Labour Organizations
When employers seek workers with trade skills, particularly those related to the building trades, labour unions are a logical
source. Most trade unions maintain a roster of out-of-work tradespeople who have the desired skills. Union hiring halls are
a common source of employees for union contractors.

Military Operations
Retired or discharged military personnel have a variety of skills that are often needed by employers. For example, many
technical workers at airlines gained their experience in the armed services.

Human Resources Development Canada Training Program
In an attempt to provide chronically unemployed and underemployed persons with job skills, the federal government
provides training assistance through the HRDCTraining Program. Both institutional (classroom) and industrial (on-the-job)
training is provided. There are special programs for women, the handicapped and native people, as well as for the
development of high-level blue-collar skills.

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Recruitment and Selection Study Notes

Temporary Help Agencies
Temporary help agencies also exist in most large cities. They provide workers who are able to fill in temporarily for ill or
vacationing workers. After seeing temporaries in action, some employers recruit these people to become permanent

Departing Employees
An often-overlooked source of workers is among departing employees. Some workers are forced by personal situations to
resign when they would prefer part-time employment or leaves of absence. If a worker can be converted to part-time
status rather than leave entirely, the employer gains continuity and does not lose its investment in recruiting and training.
These employees also may be able to refer others who would like to apply for their jobs, even if the worker cannot be
retained on a part-time basis.

Open House
To build community relations and to recruit workers, some companies have an open house and invite local citizens to tour
the facilities. During presentations about the company, those interested can be encouraged to apply for openings.

Job Application Forms
A job application form collects information about recruits in a uniform manner.

Personal Data
Applications request a certain amount of personal data. Besides name, address, and phone number, other personal
information may be asked. The major concern to human resource specialists is that such data be job related. To ask
questions about religion, marital status, or other unrelated items may raise questions as to why the company needs this
information. An investigation may be made because unwarranted questions may indicate discrimination is occurring
against protected classes.

Employment Status
One section of the application blank often asks about the type of job and employment the applicant is seeking. It also asks
about availability, salary expectations, and the applicant's willingness to accept other employment.

Education and Skills
To learn about the applicant, the application blank usually seeks information about educational background and skills, and
other information that allows recruiters to assess the applicant's potential for performing the job.

Work History
Another crucial part of the form asks about work history. Information about previous jobs, pay levels, responsibilities,
career progress, and related matters is sought to further evaluate the recruit's suitability. Comparisons are made among
job titles, duties, pay levels, and career progress.
Often this area of the application reveals inconsistencies that are pursued later in the selection process.

Military Background
To learn of other skills and experience (and to some degree to learn of the applicant's willingness to follow orders), the
application blank may request information about military service.

Memberships, Awards, and Hobbies
To gain a balanced picture of the applicant, questions may be asked about personal interests and community activities.
Many firms are interested in hiring people who are more than employees-i.e., who also are good representatives of the
employer in the local community. Awards and hobbies may indicate usable skills, leadership potential, and a person's
commitment to goals.

Application blanks may request the names and addresses of references. Generally, these are people who can attest to the
applicant's character and/or work performance.

Signature Line
The signature line is used to have the applicant affirm the truthfulness of the application and give the employer permission
to verify the data.

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Recruitment and Selection Study Notes

Strategic Importance of Recruitment Function
The human resource manager has to make a number of important decisions in the context of recruitment including:
 choosing a strategy of employment equity
 choosing between internal versus external recruitment
 deciding on the recruitment budget

All these decisions not only affect the success of present organizational strategies but also, in many instances, shape an
organization's future activities.

Evaluation of the Recruitment Function
Like most other important functions, the recruiting activity in an organization should also be subjected to periodic
evaluation. Typically, the recruitment process is expensive, and unless efforts are made to identify and control these costs,
the potential benefits from the activity may end up being lower than the costs. Past research studies have indicated that
recruitment costs can run as high as 50 percent of the yearly salary for professionals and managers. Further, recruitment
can reflect a firm's overall human resource policy and focus.

Some popular indices for evaluating the recruiting function are:
 cost per hire
 quality (i.e., performance, absenteeism, etc.) of hires and cost
 ratio between the number of job offers extended and the total number of applicants calculated for each recruitment
   method or media
 the number of days, weeks, or months taken to fin a position
 performance rating of hires
 turnover of hires

1. What background information should a recruiter know before beginning to recruit job seekers?
Recruiters need information in two general area: knowledge of the constraints under which they are expected to perform
and knowledge of the particular job to be filled. Familiarity with company policies, labour markets, human resource plans,
and affirmative action guidelines are important constraints imposed on the recruiter. In addition, the recruiter must have
knowledge of the particular job, either through job analysis information or discussions with the manager who has the job

2. Give three examples of how organizational policies affect the recruitment process. Explain how these influence
a recruiter's actions.
Policies in compensation limit the money available to attract qualified applicants. The affirmative action plan and policies
may suggest specific types and sources of workers. Promotion-from-within policies may require the recruiter to undertake
a thorough review of present employees before seeking applicants externally.

3. Under what circumstances is a blind ad a useful recruiting technique?
Whenever an employer seeks to avoid large numbers of applicants or whenever the recruiter thinks people win be less
willing to apply if they know the employer or nature of the job, a blind ad may be appropriate. Blind ads also are used in
order not to inform competitors of hiring needs or to keep job incumbents from knowing an opening exists, especially in
preparation to terminating an employee.

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Recruitment and Selection Study Notes

4. After months of insufficient recognition and two years without a raise, you accept an offer from another firm for
a $1,500-a-year raise. When you tell your boss you are resigning, you are told how crucial you are to the business
and are offered a raise of $3,250 per year. What do you do? Why? What problems might exist if you accept the
Although there is no right answer to the first two parts of this question, students might be brought around to discussing the
question of their obligation to the other employer with whom they have accepted an offer.

The problems that might exist are several. The employee might not receive another raise for some time, having just
received one. Secondly, the person's future loyalty to the organization may be questioned, and it may affect future
promotions. Finally, nothing prevents the first employer from firing someone it kept through a buy-back once a
replacement is found through a blind ad.

5. Suppose you are a manager who just accepted the resignation of a crucial employee. After you send your
request for a replacement to the human resource department, how could you help the recruiter do a more
effective job?
By reviewing the job description and position description information to see if it is accurate and complete, the manager
understands the type of recruit likely to be sought. If that information were outdated or incomplete, a call or visit from the
manager would help the recruiter understand the needs of the job more precisely.

6. If at your company the regular university recruiter became ill and you were assigned to recruit at six
universities in two weeks, what information would you need before leaving on a trip?
The knowledge needed by a new university recruiter is extensive. An understanding of present and future hiring needs,
specific job openings and their descriptions, affirmative action goals, and general compensation policies is necessary. It
would also be helpful if the recruiter had knowledge to "sell" the company. This sales information requires an
understanding of wages, benefits, company-provided services, the local community, opportunities for advancement, and
other information sought by applicants.

The role of recruiting is particularly important to understand, because the quality of those hired cannot be any better than
the quality of the people who are recruited.

Thus, to be strategically successful:
 An organization's selection decisions must reflect job requirements and organizational priorities.
 The selection strategy must reflect the organizational strategy.
 Selection strategy must recognize organizational constraints: Objectives must be achieved within the constraints
   imposed by the organization. Of particular concern are budgets. Human resource departments are cost centres. They
   add to cost but do not generate directly any offsetting revenues. To minimize costs and remain competitive, human
   resource departments seldom have all the financial resources their members would like.
 Selection strategy must reflect supply challenges: The quality of the selection decision depends in large part on the
   availability of applicants. The selection ratio, which is the ratio of applicants hired to the total number of applicants,
   gives human resource specialists some insights into the quality it should seek in the final hiring decision. Obviously, if
   there are many more applicants than openings, the human resource department can be more selective in filling those
 Selection decisions should also recognize ethical dimensions of the process: Since human resource departments
   often hold the "keys" to employment and the benefits that jobs make available, they have an important role to play.
   This important position may lead to situations that raise ethical questions. Should a human resource manager hire the
   children of executives? What is the difference between a considerate memento and a bribe? (Although there are no
   definitive answers to these ethical questions, students might wish to consider these issues in an environment free of
   pressures to comply.)

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Recruitment and Selection Study Notes

Steps in the Selection of Human Resources
The selection process can be viewed as a series of steps. Although organizations follow their own number and sequence
of steps, the ones that follow are used commonly.

Preliminary Reception: Step 1
The selection process is a two-way street. The organization selects employees and employees select employers. To
impress candidates, who may be valuable applicants, it is important the applicant's first reception be handled in a
favourable manner. Regardless of whether it is a written request for an application or a walk-in looking for employment,
good human resource practices and good public relations require this phase be handled in a way that is satisfactory to

Employment Test: Step 2
Tests may be used here or later in the employment selection process. Whenever they are used, they should be relevant.
This relevance should be proven scientifically through validation studies.

Test Validation
Test validation is a matter of ensuring that what the test seeks to find out is in fact related to the job under consideration.
Validity can be established empirically either through predictive or concurrent validity. When empirical validity cannot be
established, rational approaches may be used.

Testing Tools and Cautions
Although many employment tests exist, most have very narrow applications. It is important for the test administrator to
understand what the test is supposed to measure, how well it achieves its ends, and what previous validation efforts have
been performed using the test. This and other important information can be found in the test manual, which should
accompany any preprinted tests.

Tests may seek to measure an applicant's psychological state, but these tend to have low validity. Tests may measure
knowledge, which can often be shown to be relevant through empirical or rational approaches to validity. Performance
tests generally are considered to have prima facie validity if the test actually measures an important part of the job duties.
A typing test for a typist is an obvious example.

Graphic response tests, such as lie detectors, have the advantage of measuring the honesty of responses and opinions.
However, considerable debate has been stirred by the question of whether this is an invasion of privacy. Attitude tests
such as an honesty test and a work opinion questionnaire are also becoming popular among firms recruiting retail workers,
securities employees, and other entry-level staff. Drug tests, genetic screening tests, etc., have also grown in popularity in
recent years, especially in the United States. The advent of microprocessors and microcomputers has opened up new
possibilities for measuring several skills (especially psychomotor skills). Such computer-interactive performance tests are
also gaining in popularity.

Selection Interview: Step 3
The heart of any employment process is the selection interviews. Research indicates that the interview is the most widely
used step in the employment process. Its flexibility and usefulness for exchanging information contribute to its popularity.
Although relatively little research has been done on the validity and reliability of interviews, they are an acceptable step in
the selection process.

Types of Interviews
Interviews can be described as being in one of several categories. Structured interviews are rather mechanical-like
interviews where the interviewer asks each applicant a predetermined set of questions. Although responses to these
questions increase the comparability of results, they seldom are used exclusively in employment interviews.
Unstructured interviews are the opposite extreme. They allow the interviewer to follow up on interesting answers with little
structure or direction. The shortcomings of structured and unstructured interviews lead most interviewers to use a blend.
The interviewer may have some specific questions that are asked of each applicant but feels free to ask other questions
that will help form a more accurate picture of each candidate.

In recent years, there has been an increasing interest in understanding actual job behaviours during interviews.
Behavioural description interviews are based on the principle that the best predictor of people's future behaviour is their

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Recruitment and Selection Study Notes
past behaviour in a similar circumstance. This is especially so if the behaviour being considered occurred recently and is of
a long-enduring nature.

Stress-producing interviews attempt to learn how the applicant will respond to a stressful situation. Applicants for police
work are sometimes put through a stress interview to see how the applicant will react under stress. The interview itself
consists of a series of harsh questions asked in rapid succession and in an unfriendly manner.

The Interview Process
The employment interview usually has five stages to it. To begin, the interviewer must prepare for the interview.
Information about the job openings and the employer must be understood in order to facilitate communications in the

Once the interview begins, the interviewer (in all but stress interviews) seeks to establish a rapport with the interviewee.
This second stage is needed to get an accurate picture of the applicant. During the interview, there is an
exchange-of-information stage when the recruiter learns about the applicant and the applicant learn about the employer.
As the questions are completed or time grows short, the interviewer must end the interview. Skilled interviewers often can
do this fourth stage by asking if there are any last questions or through their body language.
The last stage follows the interview. Here, the interviewer makes a written evaluation while the discussions are still fresh in

Interviewer Errors
Interviewers are subject to biases and errors. Shortcomings such as the halo effect, leading questions, personal biases,
and domination of the interview by the interviewer seriously detracts from the effectiveness of this selection technique.

Verification of References: Step 4
Among professional recruiters there is considerable debate about the effectiveness of references. On the one hand,
almost everyone knows some people who will offer glowing evaluations. On the other hand, verification of references is so
relatively inexpensive, especially when compared to hiring the wrong person for a job, that some human resource
managers use this step in the selection process. The use of phones to verify references gives some advantages to
recruiters over written verifications, because voice inflections and the extemporaneous nature of phone verifications may
lead to greater candour. Noting the frequency of job changes by the candidate and watching out for phrases with hidden
meanings in the reference letter may also help an employer get the truth out of references.

Supervisory Interview: Step 5
The immediate supervisor is ultimately responsible for newly hired workers. To balance this responsibility, many employers
allow the supervisor to make the final hiring decision or at least have a substantial input into that decision. Supervisory
participation in the selection process may benefit all concerned since the supervisor may have a greater commitment to
the new employee.

Realistic Job Previews: Step 6
Realistic job previews allow the employee to understand the job and the job setting before the final hiring decision is made.
Often a realistic job preview is a supplement to the supervisory interview. An effective realistic job preview involves
showing the candidate the type of work, equipment, and working conditions involved with the job before the hiring decision
is made. It offers the prospective employee a small dose of organizational reality and may serve to vaccinate that
employee against sudden disillusionment with the job early in his or her tenure with the company. Realistic job previews
have been useful in reducing initial employee dissatisfaction and job turnover.

Medical Evaluation: Step 7
Some employers insist on a medical verification of the applicant's health. When there is a justified business reason for
considering an applicant's health, this step is advisable. However, some employers have used this medical information to
discriminate against the qualified handicapped in violation of human rights legislation. Other employers avoid this problem
by having a physical done after the individual is hired.

Hiring Decision: Step 8
At this point, the final hiring decision is ready to be made. In some firms this decision is shaped by the human resource
department referring the best two or three applicants to the operating manager, who makes the final decision? In other
cases, the supervisor recommends a decision to the human resource department, and the department makes the final

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decision. Since applicants who are rejected by supervisors may be suitable for other openings, the human resource
department usually follows the recommendations of the operating manager and notifies other candidates of the possible

Evaluating the Selection
How can a human resource manager know whether the selection procedures in the organization are effective? Even if the
procedures are effective, are they efficient and worth the costs and trouble?

In the ultimate sense, the utility of a selection procedure is decided by looking at the quality and productivity of the work
force hired and the costs incurred in the process. The costs include not only the out-of-pocket costs (such as costs of
testing, interviewing, postage, and stationary) but also costs associated with errors in the decisions made. If the wrong
candidate is hired or promoted, the costs are particularly high. In all instances, the utility of a selection procedure should be
assessed only after considering a number of factors including:
 the validity of the predictor
 the variability in job performance
 the selection ratio
 the base rate of job success
 the selection costs

1. What information should the employment specialist review before beginning the selection process?
Assuming the employment specialist already was familiar with the job description and position specification, the specialist
then focuses attention on reviewing the application form for possible conflicts or unanswered questions. Also, the
employment specialist will want to be familiar with the benefits and services the company can make available to

Purpose of Orientation
Orientation programs familiarize new employees with their roles, the organization, and other employees. In sophisticated
firms, formal and informal orientation programs exist at the organizational and supervisory levels.

Benefits of Orientation Programs
Orientation benefits both the organization and the employee. The employee receives a general overview of the
organization and a specific introduction to the people, place, policies, and procedures. Although research in this area is
limited, most authorities agree that orientation reduces the new employee's anxieties associated with a new job. Anxieties
are reduced because the orientation program accelerates the socialization process. With less anxiety, the employee is less
likely to leave during the first few weeks, and can devote more attention to learning the job duties and become a more
productive employee sooner than without an orientation. If the new worker is assigned to a responsible co-worker as part
of a *buddy system," the transition from new employee to productive worker often is enhanced.
A smooth adjustment to employment with the firm and the specific job duties benefits the organization. Perhaps the major
benefits are a lowering of turnover among new workers and a quicker path to satisfactory performance.

In more specific terms, a properly administered orientation program can result in:
 reduced employee turnover
 reduced number of errors
 saving of time (and, hence, increased productivity)
 development of clear job and organizational expectations by the new employees
 improved job performance
 faster attainment of acceptable job performance
 increased organizational stability
 reduced employee anxiety
 reduced grievances
 fewer instances of corrective discipline measures

Contents of Orientation Programs
Typically, orientation programs introduce new employees to their jobs and colleagues and to the organization's policies.
The coverage of organizational issues and fringe benefits often is supplemented with an employee handbook that
describes company policies, rules, regulations, benefits, and other items. Sophisticated orientation programs may include
films or videotapes about the company's history as well as videotaped greetings from key executives. However, the bulk of

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information usually comes from the human resource department representative. In addition to the department's
presentation, the orientation should be continued by the employee's supervisor. The supervisor handles the job-related
introductions. This two-tier approach (namely, general topics of interest to the new employee by the human resource
department and job-related orientation by the supervisor) is particularly useful in large organizations, where an employee
may not, in the normal course, get an opportunity to get to know the goals, strategies and policies of the larger

Responsibility for Orientation
Many organizations provide a formal orientation for all new employees. This organization-wide orientation generally is
conducted by the human resource department. During the orientation, organizational issues and employee benefits are
discussed. Organizational issues cover the history of the employer, its organization, product lines or services, and other
broad topics. During the orientation, employee fringe benefits usually are outlined, too. Many firms give the new employee
a handbook that details benefits and other information.

The orientation usually is extended in a more informal manner by the immediate supervisor. It is the supervisor who is
responsible for introducing the employee to the people in the department and to the trainers. The supervisor also explains
the job's objectives, safety requirements, and other duties.

Orientation Follow-up
After the orientation program, a follow-up is needed. During the first few days of employment, the new worker may be
overloaded with information about the employer, benefits, job duties, and other aspects of employment. A follow-up,
usually within a month or two of the original orientation, helps uncover any remaining questions or uncertainties the
employee may have. Moreover, follow-up gives the human resource department feedback on how well the orientation
program works.

Evaluating the Effectiveness of Orientation
Orientation programs, however systematically done, can be ineffective in some situations. The human resource manager
and the work supervisor should recognize several common pitfalls that detract from successful orientation programs.

These include:
 overwhelming the employee with too much information
 giving the employee only menial tasks
 overloading the employee with forms and manuals
 pushing into the job with a sketch orientation under the mistaken philosophy that "trial by fire" is the best orientation
 forcing the employee to fill in the gaps between a broad orientation by the human resource department and a narrow
   orientation at the department level

To gauge the effectiveness of orientation programs, several criteria and approaches can be used, including the following:
 reactions from new employees about the process
 measures of job satisfaction, work motivation, and job performance to gauge effects of "socialization"
 cost-benefit studies which focus on the economics of the program

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1. "If employees are properly selected, there should be no need for orientation or training." Do you agree or
disagree? Why?
Disagree. Regardless of how experienced or knowledgeable an employee may be, that worker and the organization can
benefit from an orientation that introduces the people, place, policies, and procedures of the organization. Even then, the
employee may lack specific skills needed to perform satisfactorily. Thus, training often is needed.

2. What are the employee benefits from orientation programs? The organization benefits?
The employee benefits from having a lower level of anxiety about the new job. Also, the orientation process can speed up
the employee's understanding of what is expected and the process of becoming accepted by others in the organization.
The organization benefits from quicker attainment of satisfactory performance lower turnover among new employees, and
the creation of a favourable image among new recruits.

3. What are the common pitfalls of an informal orientation program?
There are several problems with informal orientation programs, especially when they are not supplemented with formal
ones. First, the orientation may not get done or, if done, it may not be done systematically. The result may be that new
employees fail to receive important information. Secondly, the informality may be misinterpreted by the employee as
indifference by the organization. The outcome of this may be that the employee's performance suffers while he or she
attempts to become an integral part of the organization.

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