The Ultimate Guide to New Employee Orientation
Having new employees jump right into work doesn’t give them the headstart you think it would. Instead, it increases the chances that they will lack motivation.
On the other hand, 69% of employees who experience a great onboarding process are more likely to stay with an organization for three years. Unfortunately, not many organizations leverage this to their advantage.
When showing recruits the ropes, many organizations neglect their needs and bury them under stacks of paperwork. Not only will your employees feel overwhelmed, but they will be unmotivated to stay. Tailoring a unique experience for new employees is the remedy for this. You will need to improve your orientation strategy if your goal is to retain new employees.
As the war for talent intensifies between businesses, you can easily lose your most valuable hires to competition. In this article, we’ll be exploring the dynamics of new employee orientation and how it works in organizations.
Chapter 1: What is New Employee Orientation?
New employee orientation is like a welcome party for new hires. It refers to all processes involved in introducing newly hired employees to their work environment. They include enlightening the new employees on organization policies, getting them acquainted with old staff and departments, and answering their questions.
For example, Walmart has a simple orientation schedule for new recruits. Orientation lasts for a week. During that period, the company reserves a day for introducing employees to the company culture, sales training processes, mode of communication skills, and dress codes.
At Starbucks, the orientation process is quite similar. It lasts for a minimum of seven days. At least three hours a day are reserved for completing paperwork, learning dress codes, and watching introductory videos about Starbucks.
The purpose of doing this is to prepare new employees for their roles. It also helps with anxiety management since 37 percent of people agree that starting a new job triggers their anxiety symptoms. New employee orientation helps new employees loosen up any feelings of anxiety or fear.
Chapter 2: Core Elements of New Employee Orientation
New employee orientation is a one-time event. Once it ends, you don’t get a do-over. The first day or first week of the experience is one an employee will remember most. There are certain elements to consider in leaving good impressions about your organization on recruits. They include the following:
An organization overview is a detailed summary of a business’s history. It helps employees learn about their workplace and how they fit into the scene. The overview should tell the employees the following key factors about the organization:
- The history: Telling new recruits about the history of an organization enlightens them about how the organization started and how old it is. Organizational charts can be useful in this case. It will help explain the hierarchical ladder, e.g., the managers, CEOs, and board members.
- The mission and goals: The mission refers to the main vision behind why the organization exists. The goals are like milestones. They are smaller objectives set in place to achieve the mission of the organization. For example, Sony’s mission is to be the company that “inspires and fulfills your curiosity.” The company has been striving toward its mission by setting smaller goals such as building and introducing remarkable gadgets into the technology scene, reducing carbon footprints, etc.
- Accomplishments: These refer to all the positive changes or goals that the organization has achieved in the course of its operation.
- Benefactors or sponsors and beneficiaries: If an organization has sponsors actively funding or contributing to its growth, it’s essential for the new recruits to know that. Organizations should also inform new employees of other businesses being sponsored by the organization itself.
- Other factors: Employees should be fully informed of their responsibilities within an organization. This will help them manage their expectations. They should also learn about company policies and procedures. These guide and regulate staff activities within the work premises and determine actions that are allowed or inappropriate. Employees are also entitled to know about bonuses and benefits like paid leave and holiday trips attached to their new roles.
Workplace acclimation doesn’t happen instantly. It can take a while, depending on the employee’s personality. Some recruits could be extroverts who jump on opportunities to work with teams and fulfill tasks. Other employees could be introverts who find it hard to break out of their quiet zones. This is where work assignments come in handy.
Work assignments are minor or side tasks. Organizations typically assign them to specific employees, and they have separately scheduled deadlines for the organization’s major goals. New employees can easily accomplish them. They help to push new recruits to be productive at their own pace.
Acclimation is when new employees slowly become used to their new environment. Being surrounded by unfamiliar faces and a new environment can be terrifying, especially if you don’t know where to go and what to do. If you can relate to this feeling, then you can bet that your recruits are experiencing those fears internally.
To ease those fears, you need to set the tone of the workplace through employee integration. Employee integration is the process of familiarizing new hires with old staff. It allows them to form relationships and boost productivity. Organizations typically group employees together for this purpose and put a supervisor in charge of it. Both supervisors and team members show the recruit the way things work within the organization. This way, the recruit doesn’t feel alienated.
But this energy from the orientation process shouldn’t stop there. Employers make the mistake of relaxing or forgetting about the needs of their recruits once the training phases are over. Post-orientation, employers and other staff members should strive to build a supportive environment.
This can be achieved through regular check-ins. For example, stopping at new employee workstations and giving them positive feedback on their performances. Such gestures will boost their morale and motivate them to become better at their jobs.
But you can’t always be around to dish out positivity like clockwork. Your new employees should feel like they can talk to other people while you’re away. So it helps to create a sense of community by improving communications. Create a safe online space where employees can hang out and share work stories. For example, CMSWire has a Slack channel for working parents called “Parent-sanity.” It’s an online community where they can vent and be heard by people who can relate to their lives inside and outside the workplace.
Federal Law Compliance
New employee orientation is mandatory. The federal law in the United States of America (USA) states that new employees must undergo orientation within 20 days of hire. During the orientation process, the new employee has to complete documents like the I-9 form. An I-9 form is an important document that states use to verify identities and authorize the employment of people within the USA.
Once they have completed these documents, it is your job as the employer to run a background check on the employee. This is so that you can ensure their authenticity. If it turns out that new employee documents are fake, this could attract serious penalties for both of you. The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) states that employers who knowingly hire recruits with incorrect or incomplete I-9 forms have committed paperwork violations. This can attract a fine ranging from $234 to $22,297.
Other forms employees need to complete include the new-hire registration and W-4 federal income tax withholding forms.
Chapter 3: The Difference Between New Employee Orientation and Onboarding
Onboarding and new employee orientation are closely similar. It’s easy to mistake them for each other, but there’s a difference. Let’s start with new employee orientation.
New employee orientation is the first process of employment. It comes before the onboarding process, and it is the stage when you familiarize your recruit with the organization. That includes allowing them to meet and greet current employees, visit various departments, attend classes or lectures to enlighten them about the organization, and completing paperwork.
Employees are also given the necessary tools and equipment to kickstart their job, such as employee manuals, keycards or badges, log-in details, and other supplies. The purpose of the orientation process is to prepare recruits for the main training process, which is onboarding.
When new employees are comfortable and have settled into their new roles, it’s safe to say they now know, to some extent, what is expected of them and what they are supposed to do. This makes it easier to give them in-depth coaching without having to hold their hands through the process as they can do it on their own.
New employee orientation usually lasts for one week, although some organizations may extend it for a month. It is a one-time event, so employees don’t have to experience it again in the future.
On the other hand, the onboarding process narrows down employee acclimation to the individual level. Now it is expected that the new employee is well acquainted with the organization. They understand the big picture and how they fit into it. The next thing for employers to do is to train them on how to be better within their respective departments and fulfill day-to-day tasks.
The focus of employee training is no longer directed at what they can contribute to the overall success of the organization. Rather, the concern is about their individual roles within their departments. Unlike the new employee orientation process where new recruits are separated into classes, employees learn on the job during onboarding.
Orientation programs may also be conducted, although it won’t be on a basic or introductory level as in the new employee orientation process. Instead, the focus will be on enlightening employees on the proper ways to complete tasks and tools to use, recognizing the right administrative figureheads to approach for guidance, and getting approvals for their projects.
Onboarding lasts for several months to a year. During this period, employers assess and monitor employee performances.
Chapter 4: Importance of New Employee Orientation
First impressions matter. The memory of the first day of work is what your new employees will carry with them in the long run. It will determine whether they decide to stay or leave. Your orientation process should convince them that your organization is where they belong. Once you’re able to do that, you’ll have a happy employee in your hands.
A happy employee is more eager to take on their role. Subsequently, their skills develop and they become extra productive. Here are some benefits you stand to reap from employee orientations as an employee.
Promotes Employee Retention
Fifty-eight percent of employers focus on completing the mandatory paperwork and forget employee needs. This leaves new employees with lots of unanswered questions that can scare them off.
Sixty-nine percent of employees are more likely to remain in an organization after attending informative and structured orientation programs. This is because the programs give them a clear sense of their roles and responsibilities. When you make employees feel like you need them, and their presence matters to the overall success of the organization, it gives them a sense of belonging and increases their confidence. It also makes them feel less alienated.
Through employee orientation, new recruits get answers to their most pressing questions about the organization. This gives them all the information they need to complete assignments. It also gives them a sense of purpose. They know what their place is in the organization, what to do, and what team members to ask for help. All these factors motivate new recruits to perform better, hence increasing productivity.
Maintains Order & Decorum
New employee orientation helps to maintain order within an organization. It informs new recruits about behaviors that are acceptable and those that are not. In order words, it makes them aware of all the organization’s major rules and policies.
For example, one of Google’s workplace policies prohibits accessing user data without the user’s permission. By doing that, it is a violation of privacy and security, which is punishable by the law. When new recruits learn organization policies, it prevents them from partaking in activities or behaviors that can affect the integrity or image of your organization. In the long run, there will be balance and order.
Turnover refers to the rate at which employees quit or leave their workplace. A good orientation program can influence employee decisions to stay with an organization.
Seventy percent of employees say they had great experiences with their onboarding and orientation processes. Such employees are more likely to be retained by the organization. However, only 12% of employees say their company does a good job of recruiting and training staff.
Poor orientation processes can attract business losses. On an average, organizations lose $660,000 to $2.6 million annually from employee turnovers and replacements.
Chapter 5: How the New Employee Orientation Process Works
Orientation processes vary across organizations. However, the typical orientation process for new employees involves the following steps:
Step One: Meeting with HR
Staff from the human resources department approach the new employee after their arrival. The staff guides the recruit in completing the paperwork, collecting staff ID cards, and employee handbooks.
Step Two: Handover to the Hiring Manager
The human resource staff hands over the recruit to the hiring manager. The manager introduces the recruit to current employees. This helps the new recruits put a face to the roles within the organization.
The manager also gives the recruit an overview of the organization and a tour of the facilities. The supervisor from the recruit’s assigned department can assist with departmental tours. That way, they know more about the organization and how each department within it operates. The manager also shows the recruit to their personal workstation.
Step Three: Lunch With New Teammates
The hiring manager has lunch with the recruit. They can do this one-on-one or with team members from the department assigned to the recruit.
The purpose of this lunch date is to allow new recruits to escape the formal scene of the organization. Then they can engage in a more casual and relaxed interaction with their new employer and teammates. This allows them to loosen up and communicate freely with their co-workers. They can ask questions they were hesitant to voice out before.
Step Four: Orientation Meetings & Classes
Hiring managers organize a schedule and create a checklist to cover other necessary details. This schedule allocates time for certain days of the week, as not all information about the organization can be covered in one day. This can span from one week to a month, depending on how bulky the information is and the complexity of the job positions.
Topics which the orientation will cover include:
- Safety, health, and emergency policies.
- Harassment and discrimination policies.
- Dress codes.
- Administrative policies.
- Benefit reviews, e.g., paid leave, travel, vehicle use, service discounts.
- Quality management systems, security, computer systems, supplies and equipment.
- Discussion session that allows new recruits to interact with current employees or department heads. Recruits can ask questions about the organization or things they don’t understand.
- Feedback of new employees on the orientation at the close of the program.
Automated systems can assist the new employee orientation. This limits physical contact that can be stressful for both the employers and new recruits. They can go through the topics or information on their own time.
Chapter 6: Constraints to New Employee Orientation
The orientation process is rewarding to both employer and employee if done right. The outcome of a successful orientation process includes decreased turnover rates, budget and time conservation, and increased productivity.
However, since employers mostly pour their time and budget into the process, they are at a greater loss. A poor orientation process can lead to you reliving the process repeatedly with future recruits. The costs can be devastating for your organization.
Following are the common factors that contribute to an unsuccessful orientation process.
Shortage of Staff and Resources
Some organizations conduct a mass or general orientation for new employees instead of focusing on just one. This happens when an organization finds it difficult to balance normal working hours with the orientation schedule. It could also be because the organization is short on staff and has low resources available.
For example, new employee orientations need to be set in a location separate from the normal work operations, such as an empty office or boardroom. This allows new employees and their employers to fully concentrate their attention on the program. If every office is occupied, or every tool is in use, this can affect the progress of the orientation program by causing a delay.
Since such organizations don’t have the luxury of the above factors, the best option is to rush the orientation event. That means new employees will be trained all at once and as fast as possible. While this strategy saves time and resources, it defeats the purpose of creating a customized experience for the new employees. Also, employees are hastened into their roles, which may put pressure on them to perform well in their new roles.
Organizing an orientation program for new employees costs money. Most organizations have to pay their new recruits by the hour for attending orientation programs. This is because the employees are now hired, and no longer applicants.
This policy is backed up by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which states that “Hours worked ordinarily include all the time during which an employee is required to be on the employer’s premises, on duty, or at a prescribed workplace.”
Since orientation programs and work assignments occur during normal working hours, and on the premises of the organization, employers have to pay for the time committed to those activities.
Leveraging automated LMS systems will also incur costs. It doesn’t stop at purchasing and installing software. There are hidden costs you’ll need to bear for full functionality, such as setting up a server for the software, if the software is open source. You’ll also need to customize your software to suit your organization’s model or preferences. Hosting fees also need to be paid for.
In the haste to educate new recruits about your organization and get them started on productivity, important information can get lost in the details. You might end up confusing them with too many details at once. Even worse, you could skip relevant details.
Keep in mind that new employee orientation can’t be done in one day. There are so many topics to cover. Compressing them into one day is a lot. Your new recruits are already nervous about their first day. You’ll want to reduce their anxieties and not overload them with too much information at a time.
It helps if you put yourself in their shoes. This will allow you to plan a schedule that breaks down the orientation processes into smaller bits for easy assimilation. That way, employees can learn at their own pace.
Lack of Learning Management Systems (LMS)
A learning management system is an electronic software most organizations use to document work processes and share them with their staff. This allows the staff to view it in real-time without having to meet face-to-face with their superiors.
Learning management systems save time and reduce the stress of physical orientations. In situations where the organization has a busy schedule, creating time for recruit training can be hard. To streamline the orientation process, organizations can leverage LMS to train new recruits.
Recruits can access information as many times as they need to. In physical orientation, it’s more difficult. The new recruits are at the mercy of their memory, jottings, or recorders. If they miss a part of the orientation process, they will need to ask for it again.
It’s important to note that the LMS approach to employee induction is not a permanent replacement for the traditional process. Some processes need to be experienced in person.
Some instances where organizations can use LMS, and other automated solutions, to replace physical employee orientation include:
- The introduction or meet-and-greet phase. Introductions can be done virtually via Zoom meetings.
- Basic role training, e.g., how to log into company accounts and email setups, safety, or emergency best practices.
- Employer and employee assessment of the orientation program
Chapter 7: How Long Should New Employee Orientation Last?
Most new employee orientation processes last for a minimum of three hours a day. The length of the program lasts for one week. But it depends on the organization and the job position of the recruit.
Complex job positions may require more debriefing than menial roles. For example, the work assignments given to new recruits on their first day vary according to their positions.
A software engineer may be given code assignments to test their skills. On the other hand, a manager’s assistant may be tasked with arranging their boss’s office and assisting other employees in achieving minor goals. This factor can influence how long the orientation runs. So some organizations may need more than one week to wrap up their programs.
But ideally, an orientation program for new employees should last no more than three hours a day. The length of the program should last for a minimum of one week.
Within that time, it is expected that employees will meet their co-workers, go on a tour of the organization, and gain basic knowledge, all on the first day. Once that’s settled, all that’s left is to educate them on core policies and regulations.
The orientation process doesn’t need to give out all the organization’s information at once. Every other information, such as on departmental training and projects, can be left to the onboarding process. Automated systems can be used to shorten the orientation duration, if possible.
Chapter 8: Blending Traditional New Employee Orientation Processes With SweetProcess
The COVID-19 pandemic has revolutionized the workplace scene. With organizations striving to limit physical contact within their environment, maintaining regular workflow conditions is tough. To make it easier, businesses are adopting a blended approach toward keeping current staff and new employees informed. They no longer rely solely on the traditional method of orienting new recruits physically. Why go through all that trouble and risk health hazards when you can do it online?
As remote working becomes the new norm, automated learning management systems (LMS) will serve as its backbone. Hiring managers and human resource departments can now skip the small parts of new employee orientations. They only need to meet with new recruits physically for complex workflow processes that can’t be explained virtually. This way, the entire organization can remain connected, organized, and efficient.
ShipCalm is one company that emulates this sweet process. The e-commerce–focused logistics company has been able to track employee training and gauge their competence. Ted Fogliani, the company’s CEO, says, “I can assign people to be trained on tasks and I can track that training.”
Ted also says, “The learning curve on SweetProcess is the number of hours or days. It’s not a number of weeks.” With SweetProcess, there is no delay. You don’t have to worry about new recruits first learning to use complicated software before starting on their assignments. This can prolong the orientation program from the normal period of one week to a month or even more.
To Laura Johnson, administrator and human resource officer at Brooks Law Group, “It’s liberating for a manager. To me, it’s like: I don’t have to be available all the time to answer questions because they can go there. I keep speaking from a manager’s standpoint. But even from a peer’s standpoint, not having to interrupt, intrude upon your peers’ performance, not having to interrupt their workflow because you can go to SweetProcess yourself and find what you need.”
Besides simplifying orientation and onboarding processes, leveraging automated systems keeps the processes consistent. In the traditional approach, the steps you use in orienting new recruits today will be different from the ones you use tomorrow. These inconsistencies can confuse both you and the recruits. You could end up skipping important details.
But imagine you had a cloud-based hub where all your organization’s policies, safety manuals and employee handbooks existed. You can also give your new recruits work assignments without seeing them physically. Every step in the orientation process remains the same for every recruit.
SweetProcess can make that possible. The web-based documentation software provides a central platform where you can create a step-by-step breakdown of your orientation process. You get to define who sees what and who gets access to what.
With these features, assessing and gauging employee performance has never been easier. You can track employee activities and see the progress of their assignments or tasks. If they’re not getting it right, you can always roll back their actions to previous versions of the procedure you uploaded.
SweetProcess reduces the workload of physical orientations. No need to explain how processes repeatedly work when you can just direct them to the software. Other benefits of using the tool include:
- Reduces new employee anxiety.
- Decrease in turnover rates.
- Increase in productivity.
- Real-time and fast communication.
- Reduction in human error.
Signing up for SweetProcess
SweetProcess has a free trial version. The free trial version grants you all access to every feature for 14 days. During that period, you can opt to cancel. And here’s the best part: you don’t need to submit your credit card details, so you’re not forced to make a commitment.
When you’re ready to get started, click here to register for SweetProcess’s free trial.
Chapter 9: Frequently Asked Questions
Who is responsible for new employee orientation?
While organizing a new employee orientation program, many hands can join the deck. Other employees can contribute to welcoming the new recruits and telling them about their roles.
The human resource department spearheads the process of walking new employees through rigorous paperwork and equipping them with an employee handbook.
Managers are in charge of briefing the new recruits on the organization. It is their job to give the new employees an overview of the organization, its policies, missions, and goals, and their part to play in making it a reality.
Supervisors are to orient the new employee at the departmental level. That involves informing them about the department and how it operates.
How do you start an orientation?
Employers can choose how they see fit to orient new employees. But executing a successful orientation program starts with creating a checklist. This checklist will prepare you beforehand and remind you of key steps. This way, you won’t skip relevant information when orienting new employees.
What is an employee orientation checklist?
A new employee orientation checklist is a list of events or processes set to take place during an orientation program. The items listed on the checklist can be crossed or ticked off as they occur. The purpose of the checklist is to serve as a reminder to all staff taking part in the orientation program such as managers, supervisors, and the human resources department. Organization staff can view the checklist periodically so as not to forget key processes or elements of the program.
What is included in an orientation checklist?
A new employee orientation checklist helps organizations maintain consistency by keeping them on schedule. Managers and supervisors in charge can focus on what matters and avoid prolonging the process more than it needs to. Some items to include in your orientation checklist are:
- Pre-orientation checks: This includes what employers and new employees should do before the program. For example, time and location to arrive, parking, informing other employees of new employees, and preparation of offices or departments.
- Post-arrival checks: This includes all the processes that occur after the arrival of the recruits. For example, welcome and introduction to key staff, explanation of their roles (to be aided by an organizational flowchart), organization overview, and tour.
New employee orientation can be beneficial for both employers and new employees. By acclimating recruits, employers reduce their fears and slowly help to build their trust and loyalty toward the organization. This, in turn, reduces the rate of turnovers and the cost they incur for your organization.
In the end, everyone’s happy. A happy employee is a productive one. But new employee orientation can be overwhelming. So how do you know you’re doing it right?
For starters, if you feel there is room for improvement in your current orientation strategy, that’s a step in the right direction. It helps if you design a checklist before every orientation program. This will help you manage your expectations and control the outcome of the process. By outlining your orientation process, you’ll have a visual map of pain points that can obstruct the entire flow of the process.
Overall, strive to always communicate with the recruit. Don’t wait until they contact you for assistance before you offer to help. Communication between employers and their recruits can begin prior to the orientation process. You could even send them a copy of your checklist to help them prepare.
All this can be done simultaneously with SweetProcess. You don’t need a bucket list to remind yourself to do them one by one. Organize an unforgettable orientation experience with the SweetProcess free trial.
Fourteen days. No credit card information is required, and all access to every feature you need to communicate effortlessly with recruits and current employees is included.
We created an extensive guide to help you map out a successful orientation process for new recruits. Click on it below to get started. It’s free!