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Have you hired cattle or people?

I’ve never really liked the term “on-boarding.” Its used widely in Human Resources as a term to mean ensuring that new hires have the tools and resources to successfully navigate the organization in their new role. The term on-boarding seems cold and impersonal, rather like well, a cattle-car. It’s the organizational equivalent of being dropped off a the front-door and left to wolves, begging the question, are we hiring cattle or people?

If we’re hiring cattle, then on-boarding is fine. However, since we are hiring living, breathing people I’d like to propose a new term: socialization. The concept of socialization provides people with up to a full-year to ensure that new hires are fully acclimatized to the environment. Socialization is a process that takes into account the new team members familiarization with the organizational context, content, and culture to create a greater sense of commitment within the organization. The concept of socialization, over on-boarding, is proven to enhance both job satisfaction and organizational commitment. More importantly, socialization has the ability to reduce role stress and intent to exit among new hires. Role stress has been identified as one of the most significant contributors to dissatisfaction among employees. Let’s unpack the ingredients of socialization.


Organizational context refers to the macro-environment. Every business line or industry (manufacturing, healthcare, services) operates in a different context. While much of the work remains the same, i.e., good work ethic, computer knowledge, meaningful colleague interactions, the working environment is very different based on the business line. We make an assumption that every employee, regardless of what environment they came from, can walk into any new business line and function adequately.

If I came from the service industry into healthcare, the context is vastly different: regulation compliance being one of the most significant. A well-intended new team member without knowledge of these regulations can make a career-ending or organizational-challenging (stop placement for example) event.


Even moving within the same industry can be daunting as operating tactics can differ vastly, even within the same organization. My own research into nursing satisfaction indicated that nurses moving from one clinical area to another (within the same hospital) and being denied access to clinical policies experienced significant stress and therefore dissatisfaction.

There is an assumption that a team member moving within the same organization should be fully and omnipotently immersed in operational practices. This is really a significant misstep, especially in light of the fact that most organizations function in silos. From the nursing perspective, providing care in a post-op unit is vastly different than delivering babies.


The cultural aspects of socialization include both organizational and social knowledge, and access to both. Mentoring serves as the most meaningful part of facilitating knowledge. Even the most seasoned of employees needs some amount of mentoring as part of an organizational transition. While organizations have a culture, team, units, and departments also have a micro-culture. This is due in part to the induvial leader qualities, team characteristics like the Hawthorne effect, unique team norms, etc.

There are multiple factors that should be included into the cultural socialization: tenure of experience and degree of commitment among team members.


Research from 2004 indicated that the very ability to practice skills and tasks without the anxiety and stress of having to master said skills and tasks increased newcomer curiosity and skill development. The ability to master new tasks has a significant contribution to the level of commitment among new team members. Given that most new employees will make a “stay or leave” decision within the first three days of hire. This applies to organizational transfers as well.

Commitment overall means greater loyalty. Loyalty that includes additional effort put forth to make your business successful, shares – literally and emotionally- your vision, supports your mission, and speaks highly of you and your organization to others: potential customers and team members.

Here is a powerful quote from Monica (name changed for anonymity) about her on-boarding experience,

“I am interested in knowing the hospital. I want to be invested, but I cannot look past the orientation; it took all of my energy and I did not feel successful”

Monica was still employed by the hospital but was both highly dissatisfied and uncommitted overall. She was not in a situation where she could leave her current place of employment, so…you know what happens next in this story.

If you’re committed to hiring people, and want to create an environment where your new team members feel successful from day one, Archetype Learning Solutions offers a new hire socialization package with an assessment to help identify specific mentoring needs for learning facilitation.

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