10 Tips for an Effective New Employee Job Orientation
Becoming employed is considered by many as a major life event, mainly because of what it means in the grand scheme of things. It becomes a means for an individual to be able to provide for his family and sustain his lifestyle. His experiences in the workplace also end up having a large role in shaping his personality and his life; he meets new people and builds new relationships. He gets to tackle challenges and face opportunities that will test his character.
But all employees have to start somewhere and, for one who is newly hired and is just entering an organization or company, he is bound to require a period of adjustment. Employers cannot expect new employees to show up on their first day of work and dive into the work right away, providing the results that they wanted and expected.
No matter how employers wish hard for that to be true, new employees need some time to get used to their new environment. Therefore, they have to conduct new employee job orientations.
In this guide, you will learn 1) what employee orientation is (including its purpose), 2) the benefits associated with it, 3) what’s included in such a employee orientation program, and 4) tips on how to conduct a new employee job orientation program.
NEW EMPLOYEE JOB ORIENTATION
Companies, institutions and organizations generally have their own new employee job orientation programs, created and designed specifically for their use, tailored to their respective organizational structures and cultures.
However, despite differences in their approaches, methodologies and techniques in implementing their programs, the essence remains the same: it serves to introduce the employee to his new workplace, and make him properly acquainted with the organization as a whole.
New employee job orientation refers to the initial process where employees are given access to basic information, programs, services and other relevant knowledge about the organization, with the intention of encouraging employees and providing them the tools and motivation to perform and become active and contributing members of the organization.
We can break down the purpose of new employee job orientation into the following:
- Introduces new employees to their new work environment, where they will be spending a major chunk of their time for the foreseeable future. This pertains not only to the physical workplace, but also the organizational culture.
- Helps in making new employees feel welcome and comfortable in their new environment, where they can feel that they belong. Usually, new employees will feel awkward and shy, leading to discomfort and feelings of isolation.
- Provides new employees better understanding about their duties and responsibilities, as well as the terms and conditions of their employment.
- Informs new employees of the company’s policies and other relevant procedures that all members of the organization must adhere to.
- Creates a positive impression of the organization, so that the new employee will not regret accepting the job offer and deciding to work in the company.
BENEFITS OF EFFECTIVE NEW EMPLOYEE JOB ORIENTATION
What results can you expect when new employee job orientation programs are implemented effectively? One thing is for sure, though: it will benefit both the employer (the organization) and the new employee.
- Improve the organization’s ability to acclimate its new employees to the organization. An organization that can manage its people well is an organization that will have greater chances of succeeding. This will also improve its reputation as an employer. By having an new employee job orientation program in place – and implementing it with effectiveness – the organization is sure to be able to maximize one of its greatest assets: its people.
- Increase in the company’s overall productivity and performance. A well-oriented new employee is a well-adjusted employee, who has full knowledge and understanding of the organizational goals, so that he will know exactly what he has to do in order to contribute in their attainment. Also, a well-oriented employee is also an excited employee, one who looks forward to getting to work and putting his skills and abilities to good use. Since he is more relaxed, he will commit fewer mistakes, further increasing productivity.
- Establishment of clear standards that help reduce risks of disputes and disagreements. Lack of knowledge about existing policies may often lead to disagreements and disputes in the future. Through this orientation program, employers can minimize and even eliminate those and, in the process, limit any possible liability that they may have in the event that the new employee tries to make them accountable. For example, management may use the conduct of an effective new employee orientation program as defense against a dissatisfied employee.
- Establishment of successful and productive working relationships. New employees that immediately feel welcome and comfortable when they enter the company are more inclined to act positively towards other people in the workplace. This will result in better and stronger relationships with other employees and with his employers as well.
- Increase of retention of a pool of new, skilled and capable employees, turning them into worthwhile long-term assets or investments of the organization. According to research, employee retention improves by 25%, thanks to effective new employee orientation programs.
See how Trivago is introducing new joiners into their company.
WHAT’S INCLUDED IN NEW EMPLOYEE ORIENTATION PROGRAMS
The conduct of new employee job orientation ranges from several days to weeks. In larger organizations, it may even extend longer than that. To better understand the value of spending time in these programs, let’s look at the information that the new employee should expect to learn during the orientation period. What should the employers focus on when conducting this type of orientation for new employees?
- Business fundamentals – This includes the history of the company, its mission statement, its vision, goals and objectives. The new employee is also made familiar with the organizational structure of the company, placing emphasis on the relationship of his job or position with that of the other positions in the organizations. Here, he will be made to understand how important his role will be in the organization.
- Company policies and procedures – Some of the policies and procedures that the employee will be informed about include dress code, restrictions on smoking and drinking, procedures on reporting and making expense claims, safety procedures and applicable emergency procedures.
- Benefits details – If the company has retirement benefits and other similar benefit packages such as health insurance and group insurance, they should also be presented to the new employee. Other concerns include sick leave days, holidays and vacation days.
- Job responsibilities and expectations – The job description may have been thoroughly discussed with the employee during the recruitment process, there is still a need to reiterate it during the orientation, as there may have been points that were not touched on or discussed earlier. This is also where the new employee will be supplied with, and introduced to, tools and methodologies that he will utilize in the performance of his tasks.
- Physical tour of the workplace – The new employee will be treated to a tour of the facilities of the company, as well as the work areas where he will be working at. In the process, he will also be introduced to the other employees.
TIPS ON HOW TO CONDUCT A NEW EMPLOYEE ORIENTATION
As mentioned earlier, there are no strict rules on how new employee job orientation programs must be implemented, considering the variability among organizations. However, here are tips that we are sure will help organizations conduct these orientations effectively and successfully.
Tip 1 Have an orientation program in place.
This is probably one of the biggest blunders that a business can make: not having an orientation program for new employees, even if it is informal or unofficial. Instead of doing things “on the fly”, and providing orientations “as needed” and only “when needed”, you should still have a certain guideline to follow on how you will orient new employees.
A critical component of the orientation program is the key person who will do the orientation. According to HR consultant Andrew Klein, the lead person in the orientation “needs to have some public speaking skills and enthusiasm, not someone who mumbles or doesn’t like his job”. After all, he will represent the company to the new employee, so the latter’s impression of him may very well be his impression of the entire organization.
Tip 2 Gather all information to be included in the orientation.
Picture this: the new employee comes in, you know you have to start the orientation, but you do not know where to begin. Worse, you are not really familiar with the information that you are supposed to orient the new employee about.
This is not going to be a problem if the company already has an established orientation program in place, with all the materials prepared. But even if that were the case, there should still be a certain degree of preparation on the part of the one who will conduct the orientation. Any hesitation on his part may give the new employee the impression that he, too, has limited knowledge about the company he works for.
This is why pre-orientations are important. You should come up with an orientation plan that is customized to the new employee coming in. Obviously, you will have a different orientation plan or approach for someone who is coming in as a new engineer and for another who is hired as the company’s new janitor. The orientation plan will indicate the orientation activities and the corresponding schedule that will be followed.
By gathering all the information required, you will have more confidence when conducting the orientation, and you will also be able to use the time wisely. That way, you and the new employee can make the most out of the first days of orientation.
Tip 3 Delegate orientation duties.
Orientation duties do not necessarily have to fall on one person alone. Delegation is actually highly recommended.
Usually, new employees are met by someone in the Human Resources department, who will talk to him about the company, his benefits, and other general information. Then the orientation duties will shift to someone who can provide orientation that is more work-specific. Usually, this is done by the new employee’s supervisor, or someone who belongs to the same department that the new employee will be assigned in.
It is also a fact that there are some aspects of the job that the supervisor may not be aware of, especially if his job is purely ministerial. In this case, the supervisor should consider delegating job-specific orientation duties to other employees that are more experienced and knowledgeable when it comes to actual performance of the job.
In other cases, departmental mentors are also tasked to aid in the orientation process. Their main function is to assist in answering any questions that the new employee may have during his first few weeks of working.
Assigning a “buddy” to the new employee for several days is also another form of delegation. Of course, it is important that the buddy you match the new employee to is from the same department or team.
Tip 4 Welcome the new employee.
San Francisco State University’s Dr. John Sullivan said that the first day of the new employee at work should be a celebration – a welcome celebration, to be more specific. Make it like a family welcoming a new member, with warmth and ease.
The welcome should not be limited to the management, or the human resource people alone. It should involve other co-workers, resulting to a larger welcoming committee. This will help in putting the new employee feel at ease and become more comfortable. He will feel that he belongs to the new company, even if he hasn’t been there for more than a day.
What methods can be employed to welcome the new employee? Some companies offer goodies to the new employee upon arrival, such as a company T-shirt or a company mug. Others even go so far as preparing a cake, complete with candles and flowers. Of course, nothing beats personally going up to the new employee, greeting him with a smile and extending your hand for a firm and friendly handshake while looking him in the eye and introducing yourself as his co-worker or supervisor.
Maybe you could do this Gangnam Style welcome. 🙂
Tip 5 Ensure comfort for everyone during the orientation.
This goes both ways: the new employee and the person doing the orientation should feel comfortable in the environment where the orientation will take place.
Information is understood and assimilated faster when the environment is conducive for learning. It would be quite a contradiction if you welcome the new employee in a dim office at the end of the corridor. Pay attention to the lighting and ventilation of the room where you will be talking to the new employee. Are the seats comfortable? Are there other sounds that may cause distractions?
It is also basic courtesy to offer him a drink or something to eat, especially if the orientation is going on for hours. Allow the new employee to have short breaks to get some air, do his business, or just step out and gather his bearings.
Tip 6 Orient new employees right away.
The first five minutes of the new employee orientation are considered to be the most critical, since this is where the company will get to make its first impression to the employee. Waste those first five minutes, and the employee may start regretting accepting the job offer.
Even before the new employee arrived at his new workplace, he is already wondering what awaits him, and how he will be working in a way that will contribute to the company’s goals. Thus, on the first day, the person who will perform the orientation should be prepared to talk about matters related to the new employee’s productivity.
Especially in jobs that are highly technical or entail the use of technologies, there may be a need to train the new employee (or re-train, if he already has previous knowledge but need reinforcement). Therefore, you should schedule trainings right away, so he will be better equipped once he actually starts working.
Tip 7 Introduce the new employee to his supervisor right away.
We already mentioned how the supervisor often delegates orientation duties. This is why it is important to let them meet right away, on the new employee’s first day at work. This is for the simple reason that they will be working closely together in the future, and the new employee will report to the supervisor, so they have to establish a relationship early on.
It will be the supervisor that will primarily induct the new employee into his job, so even if he delegates the rest of the orientation duties to someone else later on, it is still important for him to meet with the new employee on the first day.
Tip 8 Teach the new employee to speak your language.
It is a given that new employees should be provided with a copy of the company handbook, or an employee handbook, if available, detailing all the information that every employee ought to know about the company. But going through the handbook from cover to cover may take some time, and you want the new employee to be able to assimilate into the organization as soon as possible.
You can facilitate faster learning by providing the new employee a glossary of company acronyms, terminologies and buzzwords. You may also supply him with a printout of Frequently Asked Questions for him to peruse. In some cases, some new employees may even make an effort to take down notes. Help them out by providing printouts or handouts instead.
Tip 9 Remember: new employees are human, too.
This is something that some organizations often forget. During the first two hours of the first day of the employee – and the first day of his orientation – he may have been bombarded by a ton of facts, figures and information. As a result, he ends up overwhelmed after only being at the workplace for a couple of hours! At the end of the workday, he would most likely be drained and exhausted, and questioning his decision to work in that company.
One way to solve that is to liven things up a bit. Do not stick to long lectures where you will drone on and on with a long list of facts. That will only bore the new employee andthat is not the most efficient way to learn new things. You can try taking a different tack. Be friendlier and livelier. Take a casual approach, where the two of you will be conversing instead of just you speaking like a professor and the new employee responding like a student.
Similarly, some new employees also encountered problems with having to deal with inadequate tools and equipment. For example, a new employee may be given a walk-through on the process that he will work on, but the required tools and equipment are unavailable so he will be at a loss as to how he is supposed to do his work.
There are other employers that put their new employees to work immediately, or after giving them a brief hour-long orientation. However, you should give your new employee some time to absorb all the new information that you just gave them. Everyone needs a period of adjustment, even a new employee, no matter how brilliant or highly qualified he is.
Tip 10 Orientation is not a single step; it is a process.
The orientation does not end when you think you have explained everything to the new employee. It is a continuous process, maybe lasting even months. Along the way, the employee may have some queries that you will still need to answer. You should also check in on them from time to time, ask them how they are doing and what they are feeling about their job and the company as a whole, and try to address any concerns or issues they may have.
It goes without saying that you should encourage your new employee to ask questions. There is a tendency for some new employees to refrain from asking questions due to the fear of being thought of as ignorant or incompetent. By assuring them that you will always welcome questions, and that you will be available to answer them at any time, you will give them the confidence to ask and, in the process, learn more.
If you think about it, employee orientation is a continuous process. Even old employees of companies are subjected to reorientation more than once in a while, primarily because companies introduce new policies and procedures all the time. Business processes also evolve and information undergo updates, so employees have to be kept up to speed. This is why orientation will still continue, long after the new employees have gone past the stage of being “new”.