New employee orientation: 6 ways to make new hires feel welcome from Day 1
The first day on the job can be nerve-wracking.
Don’t believe us? Just take a look at what new hires search for online:
From wondering what happens on the first day of work to questions about quitting if a better offer comes along, new hires go through a range of emotions, and none of them are entirely positive.
You may have done an excellent job at preboarding, but the first day at work can be a make or break for retention and productivity. A negative experience can lead to disengaged employees and possibly attrition, but a positive orientation experience can enable employees from day one and help them do their best work.
🧭 What is new employee orientation?
New employee orientation is a process to welcome and introduce new hires to the workplace. New hires are set up for success in a collaborative effort, including HR, the hiring department, and other teams.
🆚 What is the difference between orientation and onboarding?
Wait, how is this different from onboarding?
For one, new employee orientation lasts only a few hours or a few days, while onboarding is a much longer process lasting up to a year.
Also, orientation doesn’t cover the specifics. Typically, new hires across the company are brought together to share information that makes their transition smoother.
In contrast, onboarding is job and department-specific and requires a strategic plan. So essentially, orientation is an important part of the overall onboarding process.
💬 What happens during a new employee orientation?
Here’s a quick checklist that explains what a new hire orientation looks like:
- Company mission, vision, and values overview
- Mandatory paperwork
- Benefit plans discussion
- Safety, healthy, security policy review
- Admin procedures review
- Company-issued equipment distribution
- Workplace tour
- Mandatory code of conduct training
- Sharing key organizational contacts
💪 Benefits of new employee orientation
Sure, new hire orientation helps acquaint new hires and sets them up for success. But what does that really mean?
Employees want to be treated like people, not resources.
Employee orientation helps you do just that by making new employees a valued part of the organization.
Similar to the concept of product-market fit, orientation helps you establish person-organization fit. You can get new employees excited about working with you and help them hit the ground running.
Here are the main benefits of having a robust new hire orientation for both employers and employees:
- Reduces staff turnover rates
- Improves employee retention rates
- Decreases the time to productivity
- Creates an engaged and enabled workforce
- Reduces stress and anxiety around starting new roles
- Empowers new hires to understand how they can contribute
- Makes new team members feel secure and welcome
- Enables them to share their point of view
📈 6 best practices to nail the new employee orientation
Fear of change is both an outcome of nature and nurture. And starting a new job is a massive change. So take away the stressors and the unknowns to help new hires ease into their new workplace and get them excited about their role.
Include practical information
You’ve already given them a realistic job preview during the hiring process.
Now, show them around and answer questions they may have, from where they should park their car to questions about their manager, team, and who they can lean on for tech and HR support.
Reassure them and introduce them to their buddy
Starting a new job is stressful.
Your job is to take that stress away and give them resources to cope. Having an onboarding buddy, for instance, can help new hires feel supported and ramp-up time to productivity.
Open up about your company culture.
Your workplace culture has a massive impact on employee engagement. Show new hires how the show is run and what other employees typically do to decompress in the workplace.
Pro Tip: Set up a lunch where new hires meet the team so they can organically immerse themselves in the workplace environment.
Prep for the first day
Ensure new hires have all the information they need to get to the office and set them up with their company laptop and all the necessary software.
Also, prep their manager so they’re ready for their first day and can start showing them the ropes.
To avoid manual overload on your side, you can schedule messages to people managers and peers, e.g. via Slack.
Use a comprehensive checklist
Checklists can help you and new hires to stay on track during orientation. Since there are many stakeholders involved, an organized system is crucial.
Here’s an employee orientation checklist you can use:
Pro Tip: Collect important employee details prior to their first day.
Gather feedback and improve
Ask new hires post orientation to share how their experience was and how you can improve the process in the future. Timing is key here. You want to ask them right after completing the orientation, so it’s still fresh in their minds.
Collect the feedback to see where your orientation process lacks and what needs improvement. Also, rope in older employees to see what they remember from their orientation. Those memorable events are what you want to create more of while minimizing stress.
⏰ How long should an employee orientation last?
Some organizations have an orientation day, while others have a much longer 30, 90, or even 120-day orientation program, during which part of the day is reserved for orientation, and the rest is spent doing actual work.
The honest answer is that it depends on your organization. When you collect feedback about your orientation program, ask your team if they felt the duration was sufficient and if they would benefit from a longer orientation program.
It is also specific to the individual employee. Some might need more help than others. A customized orientation that enables each employee to do their best work might be the right path for you.
📝 What to include in your new employee orientation?
According to SHRM, your new hire orientation meeting should occur in the first week of employment and consist of the following:
- Introduce the company, mission, function, and culture
- Review the company structure and organization chart
- Review the employee handbook
- Discuss the benefits plan
- Enroll new hires in the benefits plan
Review safety and health policies on
- Emergency Evacuation
- Job-related safety
- Review and discuss anti-harassment policies
- Review policies on pay periods, travel, vehicle use, and training requests
- Discuss admin procedures for security, computer malware threats and systems, supplies, and equipment
- Share an overview of the department from each team
- Answer FAQs and encourage new hires to ask questions
💻 Virtual Orientation: Adapting your process for remote employees
You can easily adapt these best practices for a remote or hybrid workplace. Instead of holding these meetings face to face, you can use a video conferencing tool and check everything off your list.
In fact, remote work may even remove some of the traditional stressors that you would have to address otherwise.
But being remote doesn’t mean never meeting face to face. Remote-first companies like Zapier, Buffer, and Prezly often host annual or semi-annual in-person retreats. This is an excellent opportunity to introduce new team members to the company and create those organic moments for team bonding.
💡 6 New employee orientation ideas you can steal
The pressure to wow new employees is all too real. So here’s a list of ideas you can use to make your orientation a success:
1. Send them company swag
Even if your employees are remote, don’t skimp on the swag. Company swag makes employees feel connected to the organization.
And you don’t have to go the traditional route either. Instead of company T-shirts, pens and mugs, give away laptop stickers, wireless chargers, plants, fancy snacks, or even yoga mats.
Curious? Here are 10 ideas for your new hire welcome package
2. Organize a scavenger hunt
A physical scavenger hunt that divides everyone into teams so new hires can seamlessly interact with their colleagues is a great idea but isn’t exactly new. You can elevate the scavenger hunt by using QR Codes to share the clues and using an app to track who solves the most clues.
For remote employees, try an intranet or wiki scavenger hunt instead. Have employees look for files on the intranet or in your wiki to replicate the experience.
3. Host a virtual tour of the office
Record a video to show new hires around the office and share it with them before their first day. If your workplace is hybrid, you can even send remote employees VR goggles so they can have an immersive in-office tour.
4. Give them a shoutout
Introduce new hires on your company blog and post them on social media. Get creative with your posts.
Maybe they like The Avengers so try these poster templates for an awesome movie inspired poster instead of the usual headshot and text.
5. Play lunch/coffee roulette
Let technology take the reigns and decide who should go to lunch together. If your remote employees work at a co-working space, see if they would be willing to organize something similar.
6. Host a trivia contest
Reviewing company policies is mandatory, but does it have to be boring? Share documents with new hires ahead of time and turn the orientation meeting into a trivia contest. Nothing better than some friendly competition to make the first day a memorable one.
Wanna automate your orientation? Talk to a new hire orientation expert at Zavvy today.
❓ FAQs about new employee orientation
What Is an Alternative Term for Employee Orientation?
Employee orientation is also known as induction.
Some people also term it onboarding. It’s important not to mix up the two. Orientation is not onboarding but rather a part of it. So it can be skipped over even if you have an excellent onboarding program.
What are the 4 basic rules of employee orientation?
Don’t forget the 4 C’s—Clarification, Compliance, Connection, and Culture. Your orientation program should touch upon all of these.
What will happen if there is no proper orientation?
Aside from the negative impression that may lead to attrition, not having an orientation sets employees up to fail, and it decreases the speed to productivity which is obviously bad for the business.