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In an organization as large and complex as Plant Operations, employees often find that they are learning new things about Plant and the University on a regular basis. It is not unusual for a staff member to work at Plant for several months or even years before becoming aware of a wide range of “extras” available to Plant Employees, such as free internet service, discounts on computers, the Tuition Reimbursement Program, or the Faculty & Staff Assistance Program. They might not be aware of Plant Operations policies governing Family Care Leave, Preventive Medical/Dental Care, or Tool Loans.
They might also know a lot about their own jobs and their own department, but little about how their work fits into the overall picture of Plant Operations, and how important each employee’s job is to the functioning of the University. In addition, they might have little oppor-tunity to meet with employees from other departments within Plant.
For these reasons, a committee of Plant Employees has been formed to conduct a regular Plant Operations Orientation. Goals of the program include providing a warm welcome to new staff; promoting a greater sense of identification with the U-M and Plant; imparting an understanding of Plant’s Business Plan and what is expected of Plant Employees; and in general, sharing important information that we wish we knew when we first started working here.
The orientation takes six hours spread over two consecutive days. Starting with a welcome by the Plant Director and/or an Associate Director, the employees are given an overview of the various Plant departments to show the interdependence and collaboration between departments necessary to run such a vast University. Staff members are given a sense of the scale and complexity of the day-to-day operations necessary to keep the facilities of the University running smoothly.
Next, an OSEH representative gives a Safety Orientation, covering areas such as Protective Personal Equipment, Hazard Communication, and Warning/Caution Signage. This is followed by an overview of Occupational Health & Safety programs available, such as free flu shots, heart health screenings, and fitness promotions.
The first day concludes with an overview of Employee Expectations, covering policies governing use of computers, University vehicles, dress codes, and the prohibition of alcohol & drug use.
On the second day, staff members learn about University Purchasing policies, ethical issues in purchasing, and the “ins and outs” of the Payroll and Time Card process.
A representative of the Plant CARE Team then discusses several of the Plant Employee Programs, such as the Silver Arrow and Attendance Achievement Awards. The representative also shows how to redeem CARE coupons from the prize catalog.
Next is an explanation of the Plant’s Staff Development philosophy, and an encouragement for employees to take advantage of training opportunities available through Plant Academy, the EWOCs and Apprenticeship Programs, and the Tuition Reimbursement policy.
This is followed by a “hands-on”, highly interactive demonstration of the Waste Management program, which shows very practical ways for Plant Employees to have an impact on the environment by reducing, reusing, and recycling materials in their everyday lives.
To conclude the orientation, employees receive an overview of HR Policies, such as the appropriate use of Sick Time, Family Care Time, Preventive Medical
and Dental Care, and Leaves of Absence.
The Orientation Program was initiated in the Winter of 2002, and has since been presented to approximately 112 employees who were either new hires or recent transferees to Plant. The response to the program has been overwhelmingly positive, judging by feedback solicited after each day’s presentation. The Orientation Committee is confident that the program will contribute to promoting a much improved awareness of benefits, policies & procedures, and the Mission and Vision of Plant Operations, and will promote a greater sense of cohesiveness and collaboration between the various departments within the division.
The current Orientation Team members are Sarah Archer, Teri Bareis, John Bogi, Tenishia Bohl, Rick Eathorne, John Gleason, Brianne Haven, Rick Hadden, Tim Kennedy, Kim Kokenakes, Lee Lambarth, Greg Lambert, Cindy Schaedig, Tom Sullivan, Keith Trombley, and Jim Vibbart. The sessions are typically scheduled on the first Wednesday and Thursday of most months, depending upon need, and are held at Plant Academy on Kipke Drive.