Organizational entry is a multistage process whereby a new employee is brought into an organization. This process, which can be examined both from an individual and an organizational perspective, generally includes such steps as the initial attraction and recruitment of a job candidate, the assessment and possible selection of that job candidate, and then the orientation and socialization of the new hire into the organization. Past research has found that the organizational entry process is linked with a number of individual and organizational outcomes. When handled successfully, the organizational entry process can help produce new hires who have positive work attitudes, an increased commitment to the organization, lower absenteeism and turnover, and improved performance. In contrast, when organizational entry is not handled well, the new employee can have less positive work attitudes, reduced commitment, higher absenteeism and turnover, and lowered performance. Thus organizations tend to pay significant attention and devote considerable resources to ensure that the organizational entry process is a favorable experience for the new hire and that organizational performance goals for human resources are consequently achieved.
Stages of Organizational Entry
John Wanous, who has written extensively on the organizational entry process, identifies four distinct stages through which the individual and the organization proceed in the hiring of a new employee. The first stage is known as recruitment and involves various activities to achieve mutual attraction between the prospective job candidate and the hiring company. At this stage, the goal for the job candidate is to become known to the hiring organization through whatever mechanisms are most appropriate. These mechanisms can include attending job fairs, responding to employment advertisements, posting one’s resume on an Internet job site, or networking with family and friends. For the hiring company, recruitment involves becoming known and reaching out to prospective employees. These steps could include presence at or the hosting of job fairs, the placement of employment advertisements in newspapers or on the corporate Web site, and the use of professional recruiters and employment agencies. The ultimate goal of the recruitment stage of organizational entry is to create a pool of job candidates who are attracted to the organization and who, at the same time, are attractive to the organization.
Wanous’s second stage of organizational entry is the selection of the new hire, or the process of mutual choice. In this step, the job candidate and the organization make critical assessments of one another. These assessments are designed to test for a match or fit between the abilities, personality, and interests of the person seeking the job with the requirements, culture, and environment of the hiring organization. The idea of matching the person with the organization is more generally known as P-E (person-environment) fit or as P-O (person-organization) fit. Research on the importance of “fit” has consistently shown that it has significant performance implications. The achievement of P-E fit has been shown to produce employees who are more satisfied with their career choices and jobs, have higher performance levels, have more favorable work attitudes, show reduced stress and burnout, and have greater job stability in terms of tenure. There are a number of individual and organizational approaches to assessment and selection, including a personal interview, a site visitation, personality and ability tests, and anticipatory socialization activities such as internships and cooperative education assignments.
Once a selection has been made, the organizational entry process moves to the third stage, which Wanous refers to as orientation. At this point, the goal is to facilitate the initial adjustment of the new employee to the organization. Orientation can include formal activities such as training sessions as well as informal events such as a luncheon with departmental management. The intent of the orientation process is to help the newcomer through the stresses and uncertainties of organizational entry while also ensuring that the newcomer understands the organization’s mission, goals, procedures, and corporate culture. Normally, the orientation of a new employee takes place within the first three months of employment but in many cases occurs during the very first week.
The final stage of organizational entry is new employee socialization, or in Wanous’s terms, the process of mutual adjustment. In this step, the goal of the organization is to fully “integrate” the newcomer into the company. By its very nature, socialization is the organizational entry stage that typically takes the longest amount of time to complete, mainly because it involves attempts to change individual attitudes and behaviors to meet organizational expectations and values. Indeed, one of the primary goals of socialization is to exert control over the new employee such that the newcomer is willing to subjugate his or her own individualism to the collective values, norms, and culture of the organization. The positive side of this indoctrination process is that it creates a pool of employees who adhere to the company’s expectations and who act in accordance with the wishes of the management of the organization. Of course, the negative side of socialization is that new employees become too conformist and potentially lose individual creativity or, more seriously, blindly follow the company’s direction even when that direction is unethical or illegal.
Mechanisms to allow full socialization and new employee assimilation to occur can include formal training, job rotations, mentoring and other supportive alliances, participation in task forces and work groups, and performance feedback and coaching by immediate supervisors. Formal socialization usually lasts as long as five years and unfolds in stages as the employee achieves greater acceptance by the organization.
Outcomes of Organizational Entry
The potential consequences of the organizational entry process can be examined both from an individual and an organizational perspective. For the individual job seeker, recruitment and selection are the initial stages where one must first display the abilities and personality traits that are attractive to the hiring organization and then convince the organization that they are the best person for the job. The individual can either be successful at these activities, by generating interest and a job offer, or unsuccessful, where little interest is generated or where no job offer is extended. If successful, the newcomer must prepare for the stages of orientation and socialization. If not successful, the individual would need to seek out other employers or change his or her approaches to seeking a job.
For the hiring organization, the first stages of recruitment and selection represent the attempts to find and hire individuals who will fit or match the job requirements and the internal environment within the company. When a strong match is achieved, the organization will be hiring new employees who are expected to have positive work attitudes and a strong commitment to the organization. Thus organizations are well advised to use realistic recruitment practices so that the newcomer is not disillusioned or overwhelmed during the early part of the work career. By giving a job candidate a realistic and balanced preview of what the job entails, hiring organizations have a better chance at producing a more satisfied and committed workforce.
The orientation and socialization stages of organizational entry are critical early periods of an individual’s career development. For the newcomer, the expected outcome of these stages is a greater degree of understanding of the organization, its structure, mission, and operating procedures, and the important people and relationships that exist within the company. This greater knowledge and awareness of the company should produce employees with more positive work attitudes and a higher degree of commitment to the hiring organization, which improves overall morale and reduces new employee turnover and absenteeism.
- Assimilation and mutual acceptance
- Organizational socialization
- Personnel selection
- Realistic recruitment
- Cable, D. M. and Judge, T. A. 1996. “Person-organization Fit, Job Choice Decisions, and Organizational Entry.” Organizational Behavior & Human Decision Processes 67:294-311.
- Holton, E. F., III and Russell, C. J. 1999. “Organizational Entry and Exit: An Exploratory Longitudinal Examination of Early Careers.” Human Performance 12:311-341.
- Wanous, J. P. 1992. Organizational Entry. 2d ed. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.