New Employee Orientation—Delegating the Wrong Tasks

Is your new employee orientation plan as sharp as your formal training program?

Recently, while visiting a local supermarket, I asked the owner the very same question.  The question came after he and I realized that cuts and laceration claims were on a dramatic rise. Further research revealed that most of these injuries came from the combination of new employees and deli-slicing machines. I was stumped, as the supermarket had a comprehensive new hire training program.

Even more investigation revealed that the injuries were occurring during off-shifts or weekends, where the majority of new employees start out. The research found that department managers, who usually work weekdays, were delegating the responsibility of training to other associates during the off-shifts or weekends.

Typically, the supermarket’s new hire training focused on operating deli-slicers, but when delegated to an associate, critical demonstration on blade cleaning and personal protective equipment (PPE) was not covered. There were behavioral issues, as well. The associate responsible for the training gave no demonstration on safe blade cleaning, did not wear any PPE—such as cut-resistant gloves—while blade cleaning, and did not secure or unplug the power. Why? This was how the associate worked, cutting corners to save time. New employees often learn on the job by example, good or bad. 

We have often heard “they never showed me that” or “I was never told about that” from new employees after an unfortunate incident.  If you’ve delegated new employee training tasks, take the steps to ensure that clear and concise instruction is provided.  Your new employee training program may be great on paper, but may be ineffective if not delegated appropriately.