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October 1, 2001

4 Min Read
IMM Review: Orient Me!

Editor's note: Orient Me! is an interactive multimedia training program that provides customized employee orientation and training for plastics companies. It was created by Steinwall Inc. for the Society of the Plastics Industry, which provided a review copy to the IMM Book Club. The reviewer, Mark C. Bannister, describes his company's experience in setting up and using this program. 

The intent of Orient Me! is to train new employees as quickly and effectively as possible, via short segments that are entertaining and informative. Each employee's progress can be easily monitored. Employers have complete control over the material presented, which underscores an important aspect of this software. 

Although this package is comprehensive, the way to make best use of it is to take advantage of the customizing options. You can send your changes (videos, audio recordings, photos, and graphic images) to Steinwall Inc., producer of the program; Steinwall will return new CDs with all the material reworked. You can go to the effort of making the changes yourself, but that should be reserved for minor corrections. 

Orient Me! is comprised of eight segments: Company Information, Compensation and Benefits, Philosophy, Policies, Procedures, Quality, Safety, and Technology, all of which are accessed via a common menu. Employers have complete control over which segments (and in which order) trainees view. 

Company Information presents basic data about your firm. It may include a personal greeting from your president, a company history, or an overview of products and services. 

Compensation and Benefits is where you explain everything about payday, from paychecks to insurance to Cobra law. 

Philosophy covers how your company works, from communications to teams. Philosophy is a very important aspect of a company that is often glossed over or ignored. It is the area in which a lot of assumptions are made. This section is where you translate assumptions into explicit information. 

The Policies section incorporates what's in your employee handbook. Every policy you have in place is carefully explained here: child care, visitors, drug testing, problem resolution, and so on. Procedures is a smaller section involving such matters as the dress code, work hours, and telephone or e-mail use. 

The Quality section is quite thorough, encompassing topics like the cost of rejects and even math concepts. Safety covers such basics as fires, chemical identifications, back safety, compressed air, lockout/tagout, and so on. 

The Technology section is where you explain briefly how your equipment works; you may also expand this section to explain how plastic is injection molded. 

Orient Me! requires a substantial investment of time as well as money. After its purchase, a team of people should be dedicated to customize it to reflect your company. When the process is complete, your company will have a substantially better orientation process, a single point of reference for your company's vision and policies, and employees with a much clearer understanding of what is expected of them. 

The cost justification for Orient Me! relates to the cost of retaining new hires. If you find your company seems to run through many new employees before finding one that is the right "fit," you will easily be able to justify the cost. If your long-term employees seem clueless about policies and procedures you thought were common knowledge, here is your chance to make sure that everyone is on the same page. 

Our experience with Orient Me! has been limited to just a few new hires. By the time we finished customizing it, our booming operations had slowed to a crawl. At present, all our current employees are using Orient Me! so that our company vision is communicated in the same way to everyone. 

Overall I find the program extremely useful. Simply having one place in which to collect all company information is worthwhile. For a company our size the initial financial investment would have been difficult to justify (although it is surely much cheaper than doing it all yourself). For a larger company (50 to 100-plus employees) I expect the payback would be quick. 

In fact, the Orient Me! manuals contain an exhaustive discussion on payback. The actual cost of replacing 12 workers is estimated to be between $62,000 and $288,000. That includes separation, replacement, and training costs. In thinking about your own company, consider what the plant floor would be like if you could cut the turnover rate in half or even by a quarter. If your average employee turnover is around 10 to 12 percent, you should strongly consider the cost to you and how improved employee retention will benefit you.—Reviewer: Mark C. Bannister, president, American Precision Products, Huntsville, AL, [email protected]. 

For more information about Orient Me! e-mail Catherine Randazzo of the SPI at [email protected]. 



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