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George Thompson Finds Orientation Programs May Help Retain New Student Affairs Employees; Research Cited in College Student Affairs Journal

Contact: Helen Henrichs, 781-891-2277,

January 13, 2012

Research by Assistant Dean of the McCallum Graduate School George Thompson was recently published in the College Student Affairs Journal (Volume 29, No. 2). The study, “Efficacy of Orientation for New Student Affairs Professionals,” explores the critical role of workplace orientation in the retention of new employees in the field of higher education and student affairs.

According to Thompson, retention beyond the third year of work for new student affairs professionals plagues the field of higher education. In the study, new student affairs professionals were surveyed to determine their perceptions about the content and efficacy of their orientation experiences. 

“Despite literature encouraging intentionally structured orientation programs, we found that most employers continue to use informal strategies for orienting new professionals,” Thompson notes.

The researchers found that the most effective pieces of orientation programs are those designed to focus specifically on job task with direct supervisors. In contrast, large group interactions were deemed effective only in providing a social connection with new colleagues. 

“Practical application of our findings supports small, intentionally structured experiences focused on building a relationship with a new supervisor and larger experiences emphasizing human connection,” Thompson observes. “Attrition in any work setting bears a cost that can be diminished by understanding the human component of needs in the workplace.”

Type: Campus News | Tagged as: George Thompson | Student Affairs