4 Things Your Managers Need to Know About New Employee Orientation

Nurturing plant.jpgAlthough organizations continue to get smarter about employee selection, an equally-savvy strategy to retain and develop new hire talent is lacking.

Thinking about your own organization, ask yourself: would our new hires suggest that their onboarding process was as effective as it should be?

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For many new hires, their answer would likely suggest that they filled out a bunch of paperwork, went through the motions with their human resources representative, and met the team they’ll be working with. If this constitutes effective new employee orientation at your organization, you might be missing an opportunity to create an adequate foundation for your new hires to excel consistently over time.

Don’t get me wrong - some check-the-box activities (e.g., tax forms, benefits, payroll) are absolutely necessary. But those activities are often the bare minimum for new employee orientation, and the bare minimum doesn’t cut it anymore.

This ”minimal effort onboarding” leaves organizations in a risky position with their new and eager talent, and they’re squandering an opportunity to differentiate themselves as great places to work.

The truth is, you can’t effectively onboard a new employee in just one week (or even the first month, for that matter). Onboarding requires time, patience, and a clear vision of what needs to happen. Keep reading to find out what makes a great onboarding experience for new hires.  


4 New Employee Orientation Best Practices


The foundational perspective from which we think about new employee orientation needs to shift. We onboard people, not just employees. People want to feel valued, be empowered, see growth, and have purpose. And we know that great places to work are dedicated to weaving these ideas into their workplace experience.

In some ways, onboarding is a reflection of how we think people want to be treated. Yes, some boxes always need to be checked and you should have a plan to cover these basics before new hires begin.  But better onboarding really happens when you step outside of those checkboxes, and below are some ideas to help get you started.


Make a great first impression.

  • Avoid greeting new hires with only a new computer, a clean workspace, and their newly set-up email
  • Your first impressions should communicate that your organization values individuals, relationships, and an understanding that real work gets done by real people
  • Walk new hires around the office and introduce them to others throughout the organization
  • Ask them to send an introductory email to everyone (for small organizations) or specific departments (for larger organizations) that include their function, some professional background, and who they are (e.g., hobbies, interests)
  • Make their first day slow and easy rather than throwing them immediately into job-related tasks
  • Avoid just giving them a foundational understanding of the chain of command


Provide an idea of what the future will hold.

  • Lay out what each day of their first week will look like
  • Provide details about what they should expect after their first month
  • Discuss how they should — or could — be evolving after a few months on the job
  • Share some of the goals that more tenured, high performers are expecting to achieve within similar roles
  • Plant the seed for what they can strive to be within your organization
  • Hold cultural ambassadors (e.g., managers, peers) accountable for their approach to onboarding


Make it easy to seek and leverage feedback.

  • Ensure that your newest employees know what they should be improving upon
  • Give them a list of employees who can answer role- or task-specific questions
  • Encourage new employees to seek critical feedback from the right people to set them up for ongoing success
  • Have performance conversations monthly for optimal levels of engagement
  • Shift your feedback cadence to early and often during initial onboarding


Give them a voice.

  • Realize that the needs of every new hire will not be the same
  • Empower individuals to offer feedback about what they need in their onboarding experience
  • Make it easy for new hires to make suggestions to improve, ask for help, and develop the necessary support systems
  • Implement an onboarding survey or new hire survey to gather feedback and further refine your new hire orientation program


The above lists aren’t exhaustive – they’re foundations to get you thinking about your current approach to new hire orientation. Those points should be revisited regularly as employees mature in your organization. For example, the way you make great impressions on the first day will be different than how you continue to impress your new hires once they have been with your organization for 90 days.



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Published April 4, 2017 | Written By Spencer Goracke