How To Perfect Your Employee Orientation In These 11 Easy Steps
You’ve done a great job onboarding your new starters, and now you have the challenge of the ongoing new employee orientation. While your orientation will be specific to your organisation, there are some steps you can follow to ensure you offer a strategic, consistent, and, more importantly, effective orientation to embed your new starters into the organisation and give them an experience that will stay with them for all the right reasons.
Because first impressions last, and if you don’t get your new employee orientation right, you’re risking reputational issues, poor socialisation into the organisation and potentially a slower start. Especially when you consider that those who have strong onboarding and orientation programs improve new starter retention by 82%, and those who don’t are more likely to see new starters leave in their first year.
1. Give Them Clear First-day Information
The first day in a new job can be incredibly daunting, and the orientation information can help new starters to have a seamless experience. This means helping them as much as possible by sending them start times, the workplace address, nearest stations or car parks (if applicable).
It also means ensuring that their manager is present on their first day, and if they aren’t, then it’s clear who they should ask for and who will be there to introduce them to the team or take them for lunch etc.
And remember, the simple, little things make a big difference to new starters and save them spending time asking others how to do it. For example, if you have a company procedure (i.e., do you encourage the use of pronouns) for setting up your email sign-off, communicate this to starters so they know how to set it up.
2. Make It Consistent Yet Personalised
Although that feels like a contradiction, different aspects of the orientation require different approaches. For example, you must be consistent with day one induction information that every new starter needs to be aware of, like health and safety rules, how to report sickness and absence etc.
However, after the induction, each individual will likely require different orientation approaches depending on their role or department. These, therefore, need to be personal to each person to ensure they get up and running in their position and settle into their team.
3. Be Aware Of Overload
It can be overwhelming for new starters not only to be starting somewhere new but also to complete all the onboarding requirements.
It’s reported that new starters will have over fifty activities to complete during onboarding, including documents to sign or upload, over forty administrative tasks and ten outcomes to achieve by learning about company goals, culture and role alignment.
Therefore, they have a lot to do, new people to meet and often a new office to get accustomed to, so be aware of what they are experiencing and ensure you don’t get them unnecessary extra tasks during their first few weeks.
4. Manage Performance Expectations
While you don't want to scare off a new starter on their first day by giving them masses of objectives and goals, during their first few weeks, it is good practice for managers to meet with a new starter to go over the role in detail but also explain how they manage performance reviews and one-to-ones.
They can also discuss short-term performance objectives and how they fit with company strategy. This also allows the new starter to understand how feedback works in the team and who they should speak to for help or support.
5. Include Checklists
You want to make the orientation as straightforward and stress-free as possible for your new starters, and checklists can help them ensure they have completed what you expect.
Depending on how your organisation provides the information to new starters, you may have an online system they can use (ideally from the onboarding stage) to show them all the information they need in one place.
This would be personalised to them and allows them to sign online and upload documents without the need for endless paper documents and would include a checklist to highlight what needs to be done and whether they have completed it.
6. Give Software Training
You don’t need to spend hours demonstrating how to use every feature of the company software, but an overview of the main systems they will be using will be helpful and save time in the long run.
Each manager must ensure that new starters in their team are also shown the role-specific systems to get them up and running.
7. Be Prepared
It might be obvious that you should ensure the new starter’s workspace is set up, but it’s not unknown for new starters to find they don’t have a computer or their passwords don’t work. Even in the agile and hybrid working culture, new starters need to know where they can physically work when they’re in the office, whether they have a laptop, how they connect to printers, etc.
8. Make It Sociable and Interactive
It’s not every organisation’s culture to include team-building games on the first day but do try and make the new employee orientation sociable and interactive. This might include a team meeting during the first day or week to include the new starter or organising lunch or coffee catch-ups with team members.
Even if you don’t set up meetings for the new starter, you could email them a list of all the stakeholders and team members you suggest they contact to meet in the first few weeks.
9. Tell Them What It’s Really Like
No organisation is going to encourage a tirade of negative comments to a new starter about what it’s like to work at the organisation, but you could include a meeting where new starters can ask pretty much anything, no matter how obvious it might sound.
This could be done in a group with other new starters and be pitched as a ‘safe space’ for starters to speak to an existing employee. Or as a buddy system to learn about the nuances of the organisational culture.
For example, a new starter might want to know where employees have lunch and the etiquette of organising meetings with senior management (in some organisations, you have to go through an assistant or PA; in others, you just send an invite direct).
10. Consider Mentoring or Buddy Systems
Peer mentoring is a great way to help new employees learn from more experienced employees. It usually involves a one-to-one relationship between a new starter and an existing employee at a similar level in the organisation. The peer mentor can share company and job-related skills, knowledge, and social and emotional support to help the new starter navigate their early days at the organisation.
At Google, they have a buddy system for all new starters. The programme helps new starters integrate into the organisation, gives them support, and welcomes them when they start. Such a programme also highlights how seriously Google take new starter integration and reflects its culture and commitment to new starters.
Peer mentoring and body systems are quite possibly more important since the pandemic and the increase of remote and hybrid working. A 2019 survey by Buffer showed that 19% of remote employees said they were lonely in their job, which will likely have increased since the changes in work patterns and locations. Therefore, having a mentor or buddy may increase support and reduce loneliness or isolation for new starters.
11. Ask For Feedback
You’ll never know how effective your new employee orientation process is if you don’t ask for feedback! Like any training or development program, you must evaluate its success and be prepared to make improvements where necessary.
Evaluation could be in the form of a simple online survey or questionnaire once they have settled (note point number 3, don’t overload them when they first start!), which goes to HR for review. This will give HR an overview of what is being done well, whether there are obvious glitches in the process and how improvements could be made.
An effective and organised new employee orientation will set the tone for new starters and shape their first impressions of working for you. Not only can your orientation affect retention and productivity, but it also helps new starters settle in and feel part of the organisation. It’s a mutual investment that is important to starters and the broader organisation, and it’s essential to review it over time and gain feedback to make ongoing improvements.
A technology partner like Sorwe can help with your new employee orientation. Please contact us to learn more about how Sorwe solutions can help you improve your feedback practices.