New Employee Orientation Best Practices (With Examples)

new employee orientation shaking hands with new boss

Only 12% of employees feel their companies do a great job onboarding new employees, according to a report from Gallup, an analytics and management consulting company. That means roughly 88% of employees feel underwhelmed, unimpressed or flatout disappointed in their organizations’ orientation efforts. 

It’s no surprise, then, that those who have a bad onboarding experience are two times as likely to search for new opportunities, Digitate, an artificial intelligence software company, reports. 

How can HR managers facilitate a positive experience for new hires and improve retention? Keep reading to discover onboarding best practices and new hire orientation ideas for your business. If you’re looking for remote onboarding best practices, these tips can help you too.

Why Should You Have New Employee Orientation?

Companies that invest time and resources to develop their new employee onboarding process can expect many long-term benefits. Glassdoor, a global job and recruiting website, reports that companies with strong onboarding processes improve new employee retention by 82% and productivity by more than 70%. 

Some of the results of implementing onboarding best practices, according to the “Onboarding New Employees: Maximizing Success” report from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) include:

  • Decreased turnover
  • Greater job satisfaction
  • Better job performance
  • Lower stress
  • Company commitment

To enjoy these benefits, however, thoughtful orientation planning is necessary. 

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Elements of a successful new employee orientation

HR managers are responsible for developing orientation programs that not only ensure all necessary paperwork is completed, but that new employees are properly welcomed into the organization and understand company objectives. There are multiple aspects of a successful new employee orientation.

In its report, the SHRM notes “Four C’s” of successful onboarding: 

  • Compliance: Educate employees on policies and legal regulations 
  • Clarification: Make sure new employees understand their roles and accompanying expectations
  • Culture: Share formal and informal organizational norms
  • Connection: Establish professional networks and build personal relationships with new employees

Some organizations do a good job with compliance and clarification but completely miss the mark on the culture and connection aspects of onboarding. The new employee orientation best practices discussed below incorporate compliance, clarification, culture and connection to help you bring on new team members.

Streamline Paperwork

Hiring a new employee, regardless of whether they’ll work from the office or remotely, involves a lot of paperwork. Though it depends on the company, new hire paperwork may include a signed offer letter, W-4 form, tax withholding form, direct deposit slip, background check information, benefits forms, etc. Keeping these documents organized facilitates a positive new employee experience.

Actionable tips

  • Clearly outline and request the forms you need from your new employee. Once you decide to hire a new employee, let them know what paperwork and forms you’ll be requesting. 
  • Consider setting up an online portal to upload and organize paperwork. Many companies use online portals to streamline new hire paperwork and include pertinent information in it, such as employee training manuals or welcome messages. 

Start Early

Orientation begins before for your new hire’s first day. Every email and conversation that takes place ahead of their first day in-office contributes to their company experience. In addition to clearly listing and requesting the necessary paperwork, make sure your employee knows what to expect from their first day.

Actionable tips

  • Introduce new hires to IT and HR managers. Via email, introduce the new employee to managers they’ll meet on their first day, such as the IT and HR managers. It means a lot when leadership reaches out.
  • Send an email with first-day information and instructions. What’s the company’s dress code? Where should I park? Where should I go once I get to the office? What can I expect on my first day? Answer common questions a new employee may have. Sending this email will ease first-day jitters and make your new employee feel welcome from the start. If you have remote employees, this email is especially important. Let them know what time they should log on and when their first meeting takes place. Will meetings be via phone call or video conference? Outline these details in the first-day email.

Create a Schedule

Since starting a new job is overwhelming, creating a new hire schedule is a key employee onboarding best practice. Providing new hires with a rough schedule for their first day and week(s) helps them know what to expect. It also keeps you organized. Below are some scheduling tips for onboarding remote and office employees.

Actionable tips

  • Provide new employees with a high-level schedule of the week’s activities. This doesn’t need to be an exhaustive minute-by-minute schedule. The goal is to outline important events or meetings so the employee knows what’s coming.
  • Create a new hire checklist. Do new hires have training videos to watch or guides to read during their first week or month? A new hire checklist clearly defines employee goals and helps new hires stay on track.
  • Avoid information overload. When creating your new hire’s schedule, try to avoid information overload. Keep the first week light, if possible, and leave time for breaks, note-taking and information processing.

Set Long-Term Objectives

When onboarding a new employee, it’s crucial to communicate the long-term objectives for the employee and the company. Setting long-term company and individual goals during orientation sets the tone for a new hire’s employment, making this a vital new employee orientation best practice.

Actionable tips

  • Develop an onboarding packet to communicate long-term objectives. Here are some helpful things to include in an onboarding packet: 
    • Company history, mission, vision, values, etc.
    • Team roles and goals
    • New hire roles, responsibilities and expectations
    • 30-60-90 day milestones 
  • Schedule multiple meetings to review the onboarding packet materials. If you’re onboarding a remote employee, consider using a Powerpoint presentation to make the onboarding material more engaging. 

Facilitate Introductions

Facilitating co-worker introductions is a critical employee onboarding best practice. Whether or not co-workers take the time to say hello to a new hire can make a powerful first impression. Managers can adopt many new hire orientation ideas to facilitate these interactions and make sure their team knows when a new hire is starting.

Actionable tips

  • Remind your team when a new hire starts. A brief email reminder can go a long way. Email your team the day before a new hire starts, encouraging them to introduce themselves. 
  • Send a staff-wide email to introduce the new employee. Sending a staff-wide email introducing your newest employee is a great way to make them feel welcome. In addition to a warm welcome message, consider including information about their work experience, hobbies and interests—it might spark conversation with co-workers later.
  • Encourage remote employees to email the new hire. When part or all of your team works remotely, in-person introductions can’t happen. However, email introductions can. Encourage your team to introduce themselves and welcome the new employee via email. If they have time to film a short video welcome message, this can help the new hire put faces to the names of their new teammates. 

Make it Social

Scheduling social events for new employees to get to know their co-workers helps foster connection and camaraderie. It breaks the ice and is a great way for everyone to get to know each other on a personal level. It can also help improve employee engagement.

Actionable tips

  • Plan a first-day lunch. Make sure a new employee doesn’t eat lunch alone on their first day. Ask the new employee where they’d like to go for lunch, and invite immediate team members and others in the company to join. 
  • Schedule coffee breaks. Put time on the calendar for new hires to step away from work and have a cup of coffee with co-workers. Whether you schedule coffee breaks for 15 minutes or an hour, this is a great way to help your team get to know each other. If your employees are working from home, don’t worry; schedule a remote coffee break via video meeting—BYOC, of course.
  • Coordinate a happy hour. A coworker happy hour is an excellent way for your new hire and team to get to know each other away from the office. If your team works remotely, send a Zoom link for a virtual happy hour. Consider hosting a virtual DIY trivia night or working with a virtual trivia company to make the remote happy hour more engaging. 

Check in Frequently

Regularly checking in on new hires is essential to new employee orientation. According to a SHRM report conducted with Globoforce, a performance development solutions company, 89% of HR managers agree that regular check-ins and peer feedback positively affect their companies. Some companies, both in-person and remote, use a buddy system to check in on new hires throughout their first few months.

Actionable tips

  • Schedule formal check-ins. Managers can schedule formal check-in meetings with new hires once per day or week as they see fit.
  • Use a buddy or mentor system. Assign one or multiple team members to look after the new hire. This person makes sure the new employee adjusts well and feels a part of the team.  
  • Make an effort to informally check in. Especially in remote work settings, it’s important to intentionally check in on new hires. This could be through an email, chat or brief video call. However, regardless of whether a new hire works from the office or home, they should feel taken care of.

Keep Improving

Once you’ve successfully onboarded remote and office employees, ask for their feedback. What did they like? What could have gone better? Do they have new ideas for orientation? Of all the new employee orientation best practices, it’s most important to keep improving.

Actionable tips

  • Schedule a final orientation meeting. After an employee has finished their orientation, schedule a meeting to congratulate them and get their feedback about the process.
  • Send a survey. Come up with the questions you’d like to ask and send a survey once employees have completed orientation. Note of new hire orientation ideas and opportunities for improvement.

Learn More About Employee Onboarding in Our Webinar

It can take months for new employees to get used to their jobs. Learn more about the nuances of effective on-boarding in our on-demand webinar, “On-Boarding: More than just Orientation.”

TERRA Staffing Group connects talented job seekers with motivated employers. If you need help with your staffing needs, contact us today

Improve Onboarding by Strengthening Company Culture

It can take months for new employees to get used to their jobs. A strong onboarding process and company culture improves the transition period. Learn how to improve your culture and foster a welcoming environment in our on-demand webinar, “Strengthen Your Company Culture for the New Reality.”

TERRA Staffing Group connects talented job seekers with motivated employers. If you need help with your staffing needs, contact us today.

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