By: Lauren Dellarocco
An organization’s new employee orientation sets the foundation and tone for new employees to integrate with their new workforce. During this initial orientation, new employees develop an understanding of their work environment, their job position and the expectations they hold.
This initial meeting sets the tone for an employee’s next few weeks, months, and (hopefully) years in his or her new workplace. Positive new hire orientations lead to significant employee retention, higher productivity levels, satisfied employees and an overall healthier work environment.
It’s no surprise that new hires feel a slew of emotions on their first day with a new company or organization. The nature of an organization’s new hire orientation process can either enhance apprehensive feelings or help to alleviate them. An employee’s first week in his or her job affects their entire experience with the new organization. A poor employee onboarding experience can leave a new employee feeling overwhelmed and discouraged in their new workplace.
Of these new hires that quit,
- 36% of new employees leave a company due to a poor relationship with their managers or supervisors
- 33% of new employees leave a company due to finding a better job opportunity elsewhere
- 32% of new employees leave a company due to poor work performance
These statistics combine circumstances that can be mitigated with a proper employee onboarding process and proper employee retention strategies.
Tips on Creating an Optimal New Employee Orientation
So, what is an optimal orientation for new employees? A successful new hire orientation is one that establishes a clear process for new employees to feel welcomed by others in their workforce and prepared with the right resources and tools to drive their success.
An optimal new employee orientation begins with a clear understanding of the goals behind the initial orientation.
Tip #1: Assure a positive first impression for new employees.
For new employees, this is typically the first time they’re meeting their peers, managers, supervisors or directors. It’s possible that the only impression a new employee has of an organization, at this point, is their interview experience and (maybe) some current or past employee testimonials.
- Try pairing new hires with established employees as mentors to encourage collaboration and to allow new employees with safe, comfortable resources to learn from right away.
- Give new employees a tour of the workplace, and demonstrate different functions and amenities around the workplace to help new employees feel comfortable and familiar with their surroundings.
- Consider organizing a lunch or a special event encouraging new employees to get to know their coworkers and to understand the general work culture on the first day.
As a talent acquisition specialist in the human resources department, a hiring manager or an employee in a similar position, it’s your duty and your opportunity to cultivate a positive, welcoming onboarding orientation focused on providing new employees with clear expectations that leave them feeling confident and prepared.
Tip #2: Don’t overwhelm new employees.
Feeling overwhelmed is one of the main reasons employees feel discouraged by their jobs. When employees feel overwhelmed by their workplace, they often start to feel unconfident and anxious that they’re not accomplishing enough or not reaching the expectations of their position. This can lead to poor productivity in the workplace and dread of going to work before an employee even leaves their bed in the morning. (In fact, about 1 million employees call out of work each day due to work-related stress.) Overwhelming new employees during the onboarding process ultimately sets these employees up for failure.
What does an overwhelming onboarding process look like?
- Drawn-out training videos: Lengthy videos jam-packed with information are likely to lose the attention of new employees. Communicating important key points through short messages is more effective for retaining employees’ interest. An employee communication guide can help you understand the most effective techniques for relaying important information to new employees.
- Disengaging lectures: Monotonous lectures aren’t appealing to anyone. Spice your delivery up with presentations that encourage conversation and activities that elicit interaction from new employees. Share stories that help new hires feel connected and engaged.
- Introductions to too many employees: Entering a new work environment can be overwhelming in itself. When you tack on introductions to employees, new hires may feel inundated with information. Consider assigning each new employee a mentor during the orientation process to make their experience more digestible.
- Ill-defined expectations: With an unclear idea of what’s expected, new employees may experience confusion and ambiguity when trying to understand their responsibilities. Provide straightforward guidelines and clear communication when explaining procedures, guidelines and expectations—both general and granular.
You don’t want new hires to become disengaged employees on their first day; you have the power to engage them. An overwhelming orientation sets the expectation of a droning work environment, or an overly exhaustive one—and either one will start new employees off on the wrong foot.
Tip #3: Start integrating employees before they arrive for their first day.
We’ve all been there—accepting a job offer, then not-so-patiently anticipating what the first day of work holds. There’s often a gap period between the acceptance of a job offer and the beginning of new employee orientation. New employees who don’t get the opportunity to familiarize themselves with their new job, prior to their first day, may feel increasingly anxious about the unknown.
Before new employees arrive for their orientation:
- Send them a friendly welcome letter to read over.
- Introduce them to essential team members through phone calls, videos or emails.
- Send the inevitable paperwork and procedure packets.
- Share fun, casual tips or facts about the team with them.
Receiving any sort of work-related communications or guidelines before the first day helps a new employee to feel comfortable and in-the-know before they begin. Exhibiting the organization’s workplace culture beforehand also allows new employees to feel connected with their new team and excited to join them.
Tip #4: Introduce new employees to their managers right away.
It’s a great idea to prepare new employees by introducing them to their managers, directors or supervisors immediately beginning their orientation. Managers should prioritize introducing new employees to each department leader to help new employees feel comfortable with familiar faces around them. Introducing new hires to other departments encourages new employees to collaborate with other departments across the board. When new employees understand the company’s mission and goals from their peers’ perspectives and from executives’, supervisors’ and managers’ perspectives, new employees gain a comprehensive understanding of the company’s values from all perspectives.
New Hire Checklist
Checklists are always an excellent organization tactic for staying prepared and touching all bases to ensure no step falls by the wayside. Enforce a new hire checklist to organize the orientation process, and consider a talent management software to help your organization increase engagement, accountability and commitment among its employees from talent to career development.
Once a new employee signs the job contract, begin your new employee orientation checklist:
- Initiate paperwork and background checks.
Prepare all paperwork through the human resources department prior to orientation. Send paperwork, including the handbook, policies, non-competes or non-disclosures, W-4s, direct deposit slips, etc., to new employees before they arrive for their first day. Order background checks before an employee arrives for their first day too
- Introduce new employees to the team.
Begin the familiarization process. Send out welcome letters to new employees; notify the team that a new employee is joining the team, and facilitate virtual or in-person meetings between new employees, peers and managers.
- Provide new employees with resources.
Be sure to order resources for new employees early-on in the process, allowing enough time for tools and technologies to arrive before the first day. Set up technologies so that they’re ready to use upon a new employee’s arrival.
- Create accounts and logins, and initiate programs and software for new employees.
Creating accounts and downloading software for new employees before orientation begins will help save time and encourage smooth onboarding best practices. Have software readily available for new employees to familiarize themselves with their workspace as soon as possible.
- Discuss new employee orientation checklist with new hires.
Now it’s time to discuss new employees’ goals, guidelines, procedures and expectations in their new job positions. When new employees understand exactly what is expected of them in their position, they feel comfortable and confident joining their new workforce. Introduce new employees to the work culture using engaging activities and discussions.
Implementing an employee communication software can help facilitate the necessary conversations between departments. Introducing new hires to their managers during the initial new employee orientation helps cultivate immediate relationships and connections that’ll help these new hires understand each employee’s integral contribution to the company’s overall vision.
It’s important to understand the value in a focused, structured, yet engaging onboarding process. Don’t underestimate the importance of new employee orientation if you hope to retain employees, maximize employee engagement and productivity, and minimize turnover.