There are over fifteen different definitions of “Orientation” according to Wikipedia. If there are that many definitions of the word, you can only imagine how many different ways there are for employers to handle new hire employee orientation.  There is no “one size fits all” way to orient new employees; however, doing it wrong, or not doing it at all, can leave a lasting bad first impression.   Before setting out to develop your New Hire Orientation or Onboarding program, think about the goals of your program: 

  • Are you hoping to simply relay the necessary policy and procedural information and employee benefits or are your goals loftier aimed at integrating the new hire into the organization and educating them about the company mission and values? 
  • How do you want the new hire to perceive the Company? 
  • How much time do you have to deliver the information?  An hour, a day?  Can you pull new hires together at a later date to continue their orientation?
  • Logistically, when will orientation be delivered and by whom? 
  • What information does the new hire need to know up front to do their job?
  • What information can wait and be given at a later date, in an effort to avoid information overload?
  • How much do you want new employees to learn about other areas of the Company, not necessarily just their job function?
  • Are there legal requirements to information new hires need to receive based on their job (for example, Right to Know Training)?
  • Do you have a mentor program in place and how does that integrate into the Onboarding program?

Once you’ve answered some of the above questions, you’ll be able to begin developing your program. There are a few basic components to all Onboarding programs. 

  • Benefits and Payroll paperwork
  • Administrative procedures – how the phones work, mail, work space, tour of office, etc.
  • Company policies (Employee Handbook), safety and required training
  • Company mission, values and business goals
  • Departmental/job specific training

The additional components that can also be included in an Onboarding program include:

  • Mentoring program
  • Cross training with other departments (could be through working with other department managers or in a training setting)
  • Follow up orientation to reinforce what was learned

The differences in Onboarding programs stem from how you deal with each piece and the information given under each component.

Once you have developed your Onboarding program, stick to it.  Often times other priorities get in the way and New Hire Orientation get pushed to the bottom.  Keep in mind, however, that these new employees are the future of the company and their successful assimilation into the organization should be a top priority.  Putting thought and time into developing a quality Onboarding program that fits the needs, values and culture of your organization will go a long way towards employee retention and success on the job.