New employee orientation

Once in a blue moon I find myself sitting in a new employee orientation. Today, as on other occasions, I was struck by how hard it is for the benefits people to explain their offerings. The presentation is necessarily general but everyone’s circumstances are particular. There’s no good way to bridge that gap in a large group session.

My guess is that a lot of the folks who were in that session today will, upon joining their teams tomorrow, ask for advice about various health and investment options. But team members won’t necessarily be the best sources of advice, because similar work circumstances don’t map to similar life circumstances. What new employees really need is to compare notes with other employees in similar life circumstances.

Benefits people and coworkers often won’t be in a position to meet that need. But a social application that matched up employees in similar life circumstances could be a great way to transfer highly particular kinds of benefits knowledge.

8 Comments

  1. I couldn’t agree more. Benefits for me were a big black hole for almost the first 5 years I worked at my first pseudo corporate job. I think it’s worse for someone who has never had any paid benefits before. You can certainly squander a lot of pay on your medical coverage I discovered.

  2. Great post! Your model will work well (and fill a dire need) for large companies. For smaller companies, third party providers can fill the need to bring together multiple companies with similar defined benefit plans. The biggest barrier to adoption would be privacy concerns.

    Along these same lines, I’ve always thought it would be useful to get service provider recommendations from my social network. I moved recently, and I found the process of researching service providers (doctors, dentists, a car mechanic etc) very cumbersome. What I need is not a highly liquid market with lots of recommendations (the Amazon model) but a small number of recommendations with a high weight assigned to each one (the linkedIn model).

  3. “For smaller companies, third party providers can fill the need to bring together multiple companies with similar defined benefit plans.”

    Good point.

    “The biggest barrier to adoption would be privacy concerns.”

    Yes. The way to handle this is through a layer of indirection, a la LinkedIn which you mentioned:

    “We have identified people who might want to compare notes with you. Would you like to be contacted by them?”

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