New Employee Orientation

As you hire employees for the busy harvest season, ensure your farm has an orientation program in place for both new and returning employees. It is vital that employees clearly understand the responsibilities of their new job so they are better able to perform, make fewer mistakes and are confident in their new role. Research indicates that, on average, new employees don’t reach full productivity until after five months of employment.  Effective orientation can reduce this time. The cost of employee turnover can be as high as $3,500. You have spent time and money recruiting and hiring that new employee, so ensure their first day on the job isn’t also their last.

Keep the following in mind when setting up an orientation program. Meet with the new employee prior to the first day and provide information on salary, working hours, breaks, overtime, statutory holiday pay, how time is recorded, staff and washroom facilities, parking and uniforms.  Provide an employee manual if one is available and a map if your operation has several locations.  On the first day, ensure the owner, supervisor or a co-worker has blocked time to meet with the new employee and show them around. Introduce them to supervisors, co-workers and family members on the farm and ensure the employee understands who they report to. Be clear about expectations - people are more likely to follow rules if they know what they are. Explain the importance of reporting unsafe work conditions and concerns.

When training, use a step-by-step process.

  • Get ready – Explain what you plan to teach, why it’s important to know, include any possible hazards or safety procedures or regulations.
  • Explain – Describe the task and break it down into steps, if possible.
  • Demonstrate – Show exactly how the task should be done by demonstrating in front of them.
  • Repeat – Have the employee explain the process back to you to ensure they understand it.
  • Confirm – Have the employee perform the task while you watch.  Be patient with questions they may have, as the first time completing a task is the hardest. Always have new workers demonstrate that they can do the work safely before they perform the work alone.

You should frequently touch base with the employee during the first weeks to ensure they are clear about job responsibilities and work-specific safety and health procedures. Answer any questions they may have but are hesitant to ask.  New workers tend not to ask questions because they are eager to do a good job, want to make a good impression and are afraid of losing their job.

Your orientation program must include workplace-specific safety and health orientation, as outlined by the legislation introduced on April 1, 2014. This orientation must be documented. This legislation applies to new employees, returning workers, and current employees who have moved from one area of the workplace to another area, or location, that has different facilities, procedures and hazards. Information that should be covered includes: policies, farm-specific practices and procedures, identification of workplace hazards, personal protective equipment, emergency response plan, and communication.  This type of information would be gathered during the development of your safety and health emergency plan for your farm.

The following resources provide information on new employee orientation: the Human Resource Management for Farm Business Guide; SafeWork Manitoba; SafeFarms; Canadian Agricultural Safety Association.

Successfully managing and planning your business success starts with you. Contact your local Manitoba Agriculture Office for the support, advice and resources you need to make sound decisions for the continued success of your farm business.  If you have questions, email us and a farm management specialist will contact you.