The Biggest New Hire Orientation Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them)

A new hire orientation welcomes The-Biggest-New-Hire-Orientation-Mistakes-and-How-to-Fix-Themnew employees into the organization. It’s intended to help integrate employees into their new role and new organization as quickly as possible. Typically, a new hire orientation includes an introduction to the team and company, an office tour, a benefits packet, an employee handbook—the works!

Unfortunately, orientation programs can run the gamut from extremely overwhelming to extremely underwhelming. The orientation is often the company’s initial test against the expectations set in the interview process, and the last thing you want is for new hires to leave their first day with buyer’s remorse.

Start on the right foot! Here are the four biggest new hire orientation mistakes to avoid:

Mistake #1: Focusing on the Orientation, Not the Experience

You have the perfect first-day agenda planned. It’s packed with informative sessions, a top-notch tour, an amazing culture intro, tech instructions, and benefits enrollment. You’ve put a lot of effort into planning the perfect new hire orientation, but then what? After the orientation, what’s next?

One of the biggest mistakes companies make is putting too much focus on the orientation and not thinking about the whole experience. An Allied Workforce Mobility Survey found it takes eight months for a new employee to reach full productivity. What are you doing to ensure your new hire isn't the one in three who look for a new job within the first 6 months?

When onboarding employees, make sure your strategy lasts longer than the orientation. Ideally, it should support the new hire’s first six months. As a guideline, use our four-stage new employee onboarding checklist.


Free download! New employee onboarding checklists


Mistake #2: Creating Process Without Thinking About People

The second biggest mistake is neglecting to humanize your new hire orientation. Your entire onboarding experience needs to be designed not around process but empathy, and this starts with your orientation.

Think about your new hires’ perspective. What are they feeling and experiencing as they start their new job? How can you ease this transition in their lives? How can you make it enjoyable, interesting, smooth, and beneficial?

When it comes to the orientation, here are a few ideas to consider:

  • Welcome Letter: A stellar welcome letter to new employees can communicate the team’s excitement, answer important questions new hires might have about day one, and most importantly welcome them to the organization.
  • Friday Start: Instead of starting on a Monday, opt for Friday. Often Fridays are more relaxed for everyone, making it easier for the team to be involved in the welcome process.
  • Late Start/Early Leave: Give your new hires a shorter day for orientation. Start at 10 a.m. and let them leave by 4 p.m.
  • Front Door Greeting: On day one, greet your new hires in the lobby. A friendly, familiar face waiting in the lobby helps communicate how excited you are for them to start.

Mistake #3: Onboarding to the Work but Not the People

Many companies focus solely on orienting new hires to their role and the organization while forgetting about one of the most important elements — the people. Creating and fostering relationships is another way you can humanize your new hire orientation.

Why relationships? Your new hire is going to spend a lot of time with his or her new team, and they have to work effectively together. This starts with trust, which can only be built through strong relationships. Plus, strong relationships with team members can help your new hires onboard faster. Trusted coworkers can help answer questions, provide the feedback new hires need to succeed, and give insights into cultural norms.

Here are a few ways to foster relationships during orientation:

  • Have an extended team lunch on the first day
  • Ask new hires to schedule get-to-know-you one on one meetings with coworkers
  • Create a team profile with everyone’s likes, dislikes, work preferences, etc.
  • Let your new hire plan your next team building activity

Get the ebook! 50 Easy, Creative New Hire Orientation Ideas

Mistake #4: Asking for Feedback on the Orientation but Not the Results

Like any good training program, most new hire orientations are followed with an assessment. Typically, it’s a simple new hire survey that asks for feedback on the recruitment and orientation — did they receive the information they needed? Was it too much? What were their first impressions? Did it match with the expectations set in the recruitment process?  This can be valuable feedback for HR to receive, but it doesn’t really tell you whether your organization was effective at onboarding those new hires.

The final, and probably most common, mistake companies make is not asking the right questions in their new hire survey. Avoid evaluating only the recruitment and orientation process with items like:

  • During the interview process, I was asked questions that were relevant to the role offered.
  • I received helpful organization history, product, and service information at orientation.
  • The job description explained during recruitment was accurate.

...and include survey items that tell managers whether new hires are effectively integrating into the organization, such as:

  • Goals and accountabilities are clear to everyone on my team.
  • Work conflicts are managed effectively.
  • I receive timely feedback on my job contributions.
  • My immediate manager cares about my development.

If you use an employee engagement software like Quantum Workplace, you can automate surveys with custom content for new hires.

Avoid these big mistakes and your new hire orientation will more effectively onboard new employees and improve new hire retention.


50 new hire ideas!

Published January 21, 2018 | Written By Hilary Wright