Orienting New Employees (New Hires, On-Boarding)

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    © Copyright Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD, Authenticity Consulting, LLC.

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    What is Orientation? What is On-Boarding?

    Planning an orientation for employees should be as carefully done as planning a systematic approach to training. For example, there should be overall goals that you want to accomplish with the orientation. There should be carefully chosen activities and materials used in the orientation to achieve the goals. Participants should produce certain tangible results that can be referenced to evaluate the orientation both during and after the orientation.

    A progressive view of orientation is that of “onboarding.” On-boarding works from the perspective that the organization must do all it can to fully equip the employee for maximum performance for the organization — and for maximum fulfillment of the employee. Some organizations have onboarding programs that last up to a year, where the employee experiences a several-day orientation program, which includes, not only the orientation to the facilities and personnel but also various self-assessments for the employee to get clear on what he or she wants from employment in the organization. The employee might be placed in a peer group of fellow, new employees who share advice and other feedback to learn more about the company and other roles in the organization.

    Basic Checklist to Orient Employees

    While the approach to onboarding is usually quite unique to the nature and needs of an organization, here’s a checklist that can be used to orient an employee to an organization. The following activities should be conducted by the employee’s supervisor. The checklist is relevant to the activities that should occur after the employee has received a job offer.

    Before the Employee Begins Employment, Send a Welcome Letter

    Verify the exact starting date and also provide a copy of the employee policies and procedures manual. Note that you’ll dedicate time for them to review the manual later. Do not specify the terms of salary and compensation — that should have been included in the job offer.

    Provide a Job Description and Any Suggested Performance Goals

    All employees deserve an explanation of what is expected from them. A job description, which explains duties and responsibilities, often is not enough. Therefore, suggest some additional areas of focus, ideally in the context of performance goals for the employee to address especially during the first year of employment. Make it clear that you will discuss these with the employee soon.

    When the Employee Begins Employment, Meet With Them Right Away

    Explain how they will be trained, introduce them to staff, give them keys, get them to sign any needed benefit and tax forms, explain the time-recording system (if applicable), and provide them copies of important documents (an organization chart, last year’s final report, the strategic plan, this year’s budget, and the employee’s policies and procedure manual if they did not get one already.

    Show Them the Facilities

    Show them the layout of offices, bathrooms, storage areas, kitchen use, copy and fax systems, computer configuration and procedures, telephone usage, and any special billing procedures for the use of office systems. Review any Policies and/or procedures about the use of facilities.

    Schedule Any Needed Computer Training

    Include training about the most frequently used software applications. Be sure the employees learn any security procedures for computer information, including careful use of passwords, an overview of the location of manuals and other useful documentation, the location and use of computer networks and other peripherals, and where to go to get questions answered.

    Assign a Staff Member As Their “Buddy”

    This is extremely important. Identify another employee, other than you (the supervisor), that the employee might quickly establish rapport, to pose any questions that the employee is not comfortable posing to the supervisor. The buddy can invite the new employee to various social functions undertaken by other employees.

    Take Them to Lunch on the First Day

    Use this opportunity to be with them in other than a work setting. Don’t talk about work. Ask them about their family and share some information about yourself.

    Meet With Them at the End of the Day

    Take just a few minutes to ask if they have any questions or any needs they’d like to talk about. Remind them that you or their buddy is there if they have any questions or needs.

    Meet Again With the New Employee During the First Few Days

    Review the job description again. Remind them to review the employee manual and sign a form indicating they have reviewed the manual and will comply with its contents. Review any specific performance goals for the position. In the same meeting, explain the performance review procedure and provide them with a copy of the performance review document.

    Have One-On-One Meetings On a Weekly Basis for the First Six Weeks

    One of the biggest mistakes of new supervisors is to meet with direct reports only when there are problems. That sends the message “I’m only here if you have a problem, and you better not have any problems.” Instead, meet to discuss the new employee’s transition into the organization, get the status on
    work activities, hear any pending issues or needs, and establish a working relationship with the new employee.

    Additional Perspectives on Employee Orientation

    Learn More in the Library’s Blogs Related to this Topic

    In addition to the articles on this current page, also see the following blogs that have posts related to this topic. Scan down the blog’s page to see various posts. Also, see the section “Recent Blog Posts” in the sidebar of the blog or click on “Next” near the bottom of a post in the blog. The blog also links to numerous free related resources.

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