What is new employee orientation?

As a key part of the onboarding process, new employee orientation is your company’s opportunity to put new hires on the path to success.

When done right, orientation can positively impact areas of the business many companies struggle with, like employee turnover. In fact, one study found that new employees who attended a structured orientation program were 69 percent more likely to remain at the company for up to three years than those who hadn’t.

What is new employee orientation?

New employee orientation is typically a one-time event that welcomes a new hire into your organization. It’s one component of the overall onboarding process, and its goal is to inform the new hire about how the company works, and help them acclimate to their new work environment.

Every company’s orientation differs, but new hires can typically expect to learn about

  • Job duties
  • Team members
  • Company history and culture
  • Organizational hierarchy
  • Benefits

Whether your company is small or large, orientation is an important component of the overall onboarding process. To ensure your orientation puts new hires on the right path and gears them up for success, check out the tips below.

5 new employee orientation tips to inspire new hires to stick around

1. Get administrative items out of the way early

“Handle as many admin tasks as you can before orientation starts,” says Jennifer Walden, director of operations at WikiLawn.

You don’t want to burden the new hire with paperwork the day of. Provide them their new hire packet prior to orientation so they have time to review it and formulate appropriate questions. The more paperwork and drudgery you can get out of the way early, the more you can focus on things that will help the employee integrate into your company during orientation.

2. Make the process welcoming

Lauren Blair, a writer for FreeAdvice and a lawyer, says it’s important that the orientation be professional but welcoming. “You want new employees to feel comfortable as they’re stepping into unknown territory.”

Share information about your company’s history, generate excitement about your mission, and get buy-in to your culture. Whether your company’s purpose is to revolutionize the industry or deliver outstanding customer service, highlight whatever it is that unifies or distinguishes your organization.

“For added engagement, have a member of senior leadership give a brief welcome speech. And if the group is small enough, have new hires introduce themselves and their roles,” Blair advises.

Walden adds that existing employees should make an appearance as well. Have them pop in and introduce themselves to make the new hire feel more welcome. “Starting a new job can often be overwhelming, and it’s good to have friendly faces around,” Walden says. “This will also make it easier to form good working relationships between coworkers.”

3. Make the orientation informative

New hires are typically full of simple but important questions such as “When do I get paid?” and “What are my medical benefits?” Address these and other basic policies like attendance, vacation, benefits, performance management, and confidentiality. If you follow the first tip and provide the new hire packet prior to orientation, you should be able to quickly clarify many of these frequently asked administrative questions.

In addition, review key provisions of the employee handbook and explain that, while subject to change, the handbook is designed to inform employees about policies and procedures, establish expectations about work performance, and provide an overview of the work environment and rules.

“Make sure to highlight anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies, along with internal complaint procedures,” Blair advises.

4. Switch up the orientation format to be more inviting

Some organizations hold one-day orientations that can span several hours. Walden recommends spacing out orientation across several days, instead of cramming it into one.

She suggests scheduling time in your daily tasks to help properly integrate new hires. Set up lunches between them and their coworkers, invite them to participate in a department meeting, and give them an opportunity to receive plenty of feedback on their work.

“A weeklong orientation will feel more natural, rather than something you’re rushing through,” Walden says. “This will leave a more positive impression with new hires.”

5. Be mindful of information overload

Even companies that don’t offer a lot of different products or services can still have a lot of information to impart to new hires. Hearing it all at once can be a lot to digest. Keep in mind that these new employees are also learning the layout of the building, meeting new team members, and generally getting acquainted with the workplace.

“Determine the information that’s most important, and share it slowly each day to keep new team members from getting overwhelmed,” says Colton DeVos, marketing and communications specialist at Resolute Technology Solutions.

Want the full rundown on employee onboarding? Check out this complete guide we created on the topic.

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