Orientation training: is it linked to job satisfaction? By Mike Toten on 10 February 2015 An effective orientation training program for new employees is a strong predictor of job satisfaction, according to a recent survey of 7000 British employees. However, other types of training have only a weak link with job satisfaction of new employees. The survey report, which covered various types of training, recommended that organisations devote more resources to orientation training. It added that public sector organisations were doing a better job of it than the private sector, although the gap was greater with female employees than males. The report’s introduction commented that most previous studies of training have evaluated its impact on productivity, earnings and employee turnover. While some have also looked at the impact on job satisfaction, those studies have not distinguished between different types of training (eg orientation, skills training, preparation for future jobs). Also, research exploring whether employment sector and gender moderate the impact of orientation training and socialisation on workplace attitudes and beliefs, such as job satisfaction, has not yet been examined. Data was collected from the British Household Panel Survey which covered the years 1999 to 2008. Why workplace socialisation is important The report said that socialisation helps new employees to develop a sense of task competence by reducing uncertainty about various aspects of work in their organisation or work group context. It provides clarity about work tasks, establishes realistic expectations about the job, and facilitates the development of interpersonal relationships between new employees and their work colleagues. Previous studies found that job satisfaction is positively related to interpersonal relationships, goal clarification and value congruence. Awareness of organisational politics and being able to navigate them are important because organisational politics have been linked negatively to job satisfaction. The finding that good orientation programs have a greater impact on the job satisfaction of women than men may be because those programs pay greater attention to managing work/life balance issues. Types of training and extent of use The report covered five types: helping the employee to get started on the job, ie orientation improving skills in current job increasing skills in current job preparing employee for next job improving the employee’s skills generally Only about 12% of public sector employees and less than 9% of private sector ones said they had received orientation training. These may seem like surprisingly low figures considering that orientation is regarded as standard HR practice in Australia, but it must be remembered the survey only covered new employees, not all employees. Roughly speaking, about 40% of public sector and 30% of new private sector employees received each of the other types of training. Therefore, the real survey finding is that orientation training focused mainly on skills and tended to overlook the socialisation aspects. On average, new employees received about 12 days of training in the public sector and seven in the private sector. The level of employee satisfaction with the training itself was similar for all five types of training. Why is orientation more effective in the public sector? In general, private sector organisations are motivated mainly by profits and public sector ones by a need to maximise social welfare. It could be argued that private sector organisations may try harder to be a “model employer”. This leads to differences between private and public sector remuneration, motivation, work-related attitudes and working conditions, which could affect how orientation training affects new employees’ job satisfaction. Arguably, public sector employment policies and conditions are more favourable to employees. Private sector organisations may place greater emphasis on getting employees “up to speed” quickly, so may focus on skills training and overlook the socialisation and satisfaction issues. Impact of orientation training on employees The report found that employees who received orientation training were more likely to receive promotion opportunities, men more so than women. Likewise, the employees who received it were likely to report higher overall levels of job satisfaction, although less so for women in the private sector. For its impact on more specific aspects of job satisfaction, the results were as follows: positive impact on satisfaction with pay for men in the private sector and not for women in either sector men’s satisfaction with working hours only increased in the private sector. The positive relationship between receiving orientation training and overall job satisfaction was twice as strong in the public sector (0.6 versus 0.3 in private sector). Satisfaction with the work itself and job security were much higher in the public sector than the private sector. In fact there was almost no impact at all on satisfaction with job security in the private sector. The report described the impact of the other four types of training on job satisfaction as “only a weak positive relationship”. Orientation training has more impact on job satisfaction The report concludes with the following comment: “Our findings reinforce the view that orientation training matters even more given its predominance as a stronger predictor of job satisfaction than other types of job training and consequently a strong predictor of such employee behaviours as commitment, motivation, absenteeism, and quitting intentions. We attribute the predominance of orientation training as a strong predictor of job satisfaction to its important function of facilitating the workplace socialisation of new employees, reducing the uncertainty about aspects of the job that are not always easily contractible”. For this reason, it recommended that organisations allocate more resources to orientation training, if necessary at the expense of other types of training. Further information Orientation Training and Job Satisfaction: A Sector and Gender Analysis, Human Resource Management, 2015.