Successful Employee Orientation (Part 3)
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 you.

    • 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 week.

  • Enroll the new hire in the next corporate orientation program and, if handled separately, schedule a benefits meeting with the appropriate Human Resources representative.

  • 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 security codes.

  • 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.

First Day

  • 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 and organization.

  • 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 incoming calls.
    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.

First Week

  • 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, and compensation.

    • 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 reporting procedure.


  • 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. (ed.)

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, or visit our website at to learn how we can increase your firm's sales and effectiveness!

Excellent articles by Christina Morfeld | Many more articles in The HR Refresher in
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Copyright 2002 - 2003 - Christina Morfeld and Affinity Business Communications, LLC.
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