Successful Employee Orientation
by Christina Morfeld
It is your obligation, as a supervisor or manager, to support new hires
as they become acclimated to your work group and their job duties. These responsibilities,
which are primarily related to logistics and role clarification, are not limited
to an employee's first day; rather, they are part of an ongoing process that
starts well before he or she even sets foot in the door!
Prior to First Day
- Place a follow-up call to the new hire after he or she has accepted your
offer of employment.
- Communicate how pleased you are that he or she will be working with
- Tell him or her when to arrive, where to park, and whom to ask for.
As there is a tendency for new hires to overdress, remind him or her if
your dress code is less than business formal.
- Determine if he or she has a nickname or prefers to be called by his
or her full name.
- Answer any last-minute questions that he or she may have.
- Keep your calendar as clear as possible during the new hire's first
- Enroll the new hire in the next corporate orientation program and, if
handled separately, schedule a benefits meeting with the appropriate Human
- Announce the new hire's start date to employees - both inside and outside
of your department - with whom he or she will have contact.
- Provide a brief overview of his or her background and what his or her
responsibilities with the organization will be.
- Express enthusiasm for your new team member, and encourage others
to welcome him or her as well.
- Arrange for a computer, telephone, key/access pass, and any necessary
- Organize his or her workspace.
- Be sure that it is clean and sufficiently stocked with supplies.
- Remove any files belonging to former occupants if they are not related
to the new hire's job.
- Post a sign with his or her name.
- Identify key responsibilities and objectives. Be sure that an up-to-date
job description reflecting these is available.
- Develop an on-the-job training strategy. Identify any support and additional
training that the new hire may require in order to be successful.
- Identify a "buddy" that the new hire can use as a resource for the first
month or so. Besides being available to answer any questions, the buddy
should periodically "check in" to see how the new hire is doing.
- Select a peer who will make a lasting impression, one who is personable,
upbeat, patient, and can explain things clearly and concisely.
- Be sure to communicate these responsibilities to the individual you
select, and recognize and reward him or her for it.
- Introduce the new hire to his or her buddy, encouraging him or her to
utilize this individual as a resource while becoming familiar with the department
- Show the new hire where the rest rooms, water fountain, and cafeteria
are located. Be sure to mention the cafeteria's hours of operation and the
location of any vending machines or refreshment centers that are available
outside of these hours.
- If the new hire will be unable to keep personal items at his or her
workspace, show the location of any lockers or other secure storage areas.
- Discuss any necessary safety precautions and accident and emergency
reporting procedures. Show the new hire the evacuation route and locations
of fire alarms, extinguishers, and first aid kits.
- Take the new hire to lunch. Invite his or her buddy and other key staff
members if appropriate.
- Discuss computer, email, and voicemail logins and procedures. Advise
the new hire if there is a standard script that must be followed when answering
Inform him or her of any others "electronic etiquette" norms. For example:
- Should his or her greeting be re-recorded daily with the current date?
- Are there specific circumstances under which incoming telephone calls
should be forwarded directly to voicemail and/or incoming email messages
receive an auto-reply?
- Offer your assistance in completing any paperwork that Payroll and/or
Human Resources may have provided.
- If your organization does not offer a formal corporate-level orientation,
it is recommended that you address as many of the topics discussed in Part
2 of this series of articles as possible. Otherwise, a brief company
overview should be sufficient at this point.
- Provide a department overview that includes:
- Its primary activities, daily operations, goals, recent achievements,
and current priorities
- Its organization and key personnel
- Its internal and external clients, relationships to other departments,
and how it fits into the overall corporate structure and strategy
- Insight into the culture of the department, with an emphasis on teamwork,
group problem solving, creativity, and open communication
- Explain the roles and relationships within the department and introduce
the new hire to his or her colleagues.
- Discuss expected standards of conduct and performance.
- Explain key policies to the new hire (even if they are covered during
a corporate orientation), including disciplinary action that will be taken
if these policies are violated.
- Explain why the new hire's job is important and how it relates to
goals at the departmental, divisional, and organizational levels.
- Provide a copy of an up-to-date job description and explain the new
hire's specific duties and deliverables.
- Communicate priorities and timelines for these activities.
- To reduce any anxiety that the new hire may be feeling, be sure
to tell him or her that you have made arrangements for on-the-job training
for accomplishing these tasks.
- Encourage him or her to take ownership of these responsibilities
and, if appropriate, seek out more effective methods of executing them.
- Talk about past education or work experience that he or she may
be able to draw from when performing these activities.
- Discuss how performance is planned, monitored, and evaluated/measured.
Indicate the frequency of both formal and informal reviews, in addition
to the way in which pay and promotion decisions are made.
Note: It is recommended that you have your first formal performance
discussion at the three-month point, with informal discussions taking
place at least once every week or two until then.
- Give the new hire simple - but meaningful - job-related assignments
to get his or her feet wet. Provide constructive and useful feedback.
- Show the new hire the location and proper operation of office equipment,
including fax and photocopy machines. Point out where the paper is stored
and, if the photocopy machine requires an access code, be sure to tell him
or her what it is.
- Show the new hire where the mail room and supply closets are located.
Discuss any required procedures and forms.
- Explain policies and procedures related to work schedule, time off,
- What are the new hire's hours of work? How long is his or her lunch
break and must it be taken at a certain time? Is he or she entitled to
any other breaks throughout the day?
- Is the new hire eligible for overtime pay or "comp time" if he or
she works more than his or her regularly scheduled hours? Is there a shift
differential for working nights and/or weekends?
- If the new hire will be required to report time worked, show him or
her where the time clock is located or the proper way to complete and
submit a timesheet.
- How many vacation and personal days will the new hire be able to take?
How are they accrued? Do they carry over from one year to the next? What
are the steps required to request time off? Is there a waiting period?
- How may sick days are available? Do they carry over from one year
to the next? Who does the new hire contact in the event that he or she
must "call in sick"?
- Are paychecks issued weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly? When can he or
she expect his or her first paycheck, and what period will it cover?
- How are bonuses, commissions, and other variable payments calculated
and when are they issued?
- If the new hire will spend a significant amount of time "in the field,"
explain the company's T&E (travel and entertainment) policy and expense
- Follow-up regularly to see how he or she is doing. Offer feedback on
any personal observations.
- Encourage the new hire to share any issues and concerns. Also try to
anticipate and answer questions that he or she may be reluctant to ask out
of fear of "looking dumb."
- Openly and honestly discuss problems and frustrations that the new hire
may encounter and offer recommendations for overcoming them.
- And last but not least, never undervalue the new hire's fresh perspective.
Always be receptive to his or her comments, opinions, and suggestions.
While these responsibilities may seem burdensome, you will undoubtedly find
them well worth the time and effort. Your new hire will feel comfortable in
the new environment more quickly and his or her learning curve will be shortened.
Furthermore, your attention and thoughtfulness demonstrate the value you place
on him or her, motivating your new hire to become a contributing member of
your team in no time at all!
Thank you Christina for a most comprehensive checklist for one of the
most important processes in business. Your checklist applies universally to
entry level positions in any organization - and also to those at the most
senior level. The underlying priniciples resonating through your articles
are very sound and clear - your thinking is very thorough and you have very
capably provided us the definitive guideline for the perfect orientation.
Christina Morfeld is president of Affinity Business Communications, a provider
of high-quality instructional design, technical writing, and content development
solutions. Whether writing to instruct, inform, or persuade, our work is reader-focused,
benefits-oriented, and results-driven. Contact us at 203-445-9964 or firstname.lastname@example.org,
or visit our website at http://www.affinitybizcomm.com
to learn how we can increase your firm's sales and effectiveness!
articles by Christina Morfeld | Many more
articles in The HR Refresher in
The CEO Refresher Archives