WORKPLACE LAW -
New Employee Orientation

Question:

Do you have any tips regarding the orientation process for new employees? We don’t have anything formal in place at our company, and it sometimes feels a little chaotic when we have someone new start work with us.

Answer:

New employees are often nervous and insecure when they begin a new job, and employers are sometimes unsure about how to best welcome someone to their work environment. One of the best practices employers can implement is a new employee orientation, which can be a useful tool in welcoming a new employee into the workplace and making sure that he or she feels comfortable there. Studies have shown that employee orientations reduce turnover, and that improving new employee orientation can increase retention rates by as much as 25%. An employee orientation shows that the organization values its employees and wants to provide the tools necessary to succeed, which can save thousands of dollars associated with employee turnover.

Employee orientations also promote a sense of teamwork, and can be good tools for motivating employees to jump right into their new jobs. From a practical standpoint, orientations can help clarify a new employee’s job duties and role with the company, which in turn cuts down on mistakes that might otherwise be caused by a lack of communication or understanding. Clearly setting out an employee’s role also helps to clarify the performance standards and other expectations that you have for your staff. Studies have shown that successfully orienting a new employee will help that person get settled in quickly and feel more confident, which in turn allows him or her to become a contributory new member of your team as soon as possible. This also saves time for your existing employees, who won’t need to spend as much time teaching the new employee the ropes.

If you implement a new employee orientation program, it should be designed to assist new employees in adjusting to their jobs and work environment, and to instill a positive work attitude from the outset. Surveys have shown that one of the main reasons people change jobs is because they never felt welcomed by their employer, or that they were truly part of the organization. Providing new employees with an inspirational and welcoming orientation can help prevent this sort of disillusionment. It is also important for employers to convey their commitment to their staff, and to encourage new employees to feel comfortable asking questions so they can obtain the information they need to learn, problem solve, and make decisions in their new roles.

The following are some suggestions for new employee orientation:

  • Determine what the new employee’s training needs will be and schedule any necessary training before they start so the training can begin on the employee’s first day of work.
  • Clearly delineate the short and long-term expectations that you have for your new employee, and be prepared to discuss them when he or she starts work.
  • Prepare a new employee packet that contains your Employee Handbook (if you have one), a job description, information about the history of the company, and payroll and benefit plan forms. You should also arrange for the new employee to complete employment forms and records, and provide an explanation regarding your company’s compensation and benefits program. The new employee should be given the opportunity to review personnel policies and any other related information, and to ask any questions he or she might have.
  • Introduce (or re-introduce) the new employee to the rest of your staff, and orient him or her to the physical layout of your office.
  • Make sure the employee’s immediate supervisor meets with him or her to discuss information about departmental operations and goals, rules and procedures, schedules, business hours, and relevant responsibilities.
  • You should also explain your company’s requirements regarding breaks, meals, and use of company equipment. There may be other policies or practices you want to emphasize.

These are just some of the things that you can do to ensure that your new employees are adequately oriented to their new work environment. However you decide to orient your new employees, helping them feel welcome and valued gives you the best chance of starting that person on the path toward being a loyal, productive member of your business.
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