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How to Have a Successful New Employee Orientation Program

A good new employee orientation program delivers multiple benefits to your company, some of which are often overlooked. Here are but a few of the many benefits that both the new employees and the employer will receive.

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The Purpose of New Employee Orientation Programs

A good new employee orientation program delivers multiple benefits to your company, some of which are often overlooked. Here are but a few of the many benefits that both the new employees and the employer will receive.

  • Helps your employees get up to speed quickly and learn the “ground rules” of the company. This often reduces start-up, training, and other indirect costs associated with having new employees who are unfamiliar with the company.
  • Conserves manager, supervisor, and peer time. Answering the most common questions posed by new employees saves everyone else the time in answering, explaining, and clarifying issues.
  • Reduces the “new employee stress” factor. Everyone, even new CEOs, experiences some level of anxiety and stress when starting a new job at a new workplace. Efficient new employee orientation programs have been proven to significantly reduce this stress and bring it down to a manageable level.
  • Helps establish a positive, can-do attitude at the beginning of a new employment situation. Learning job responsibilities, expectations, and the corporate “attitude” of their new employer helps employees feel both comfortable with and knowledgeable about their new job and the level of performance that the company wants. This typically establishes a positive employee attitude toward the new situation and future possibilities of success.

Usually, there are two distinct components to a successful new employee orientation program. One part is typically devoted to a general orientation, which discusses the overall policies and procedures that apply to all areas of the company. These often include matters of personnel, compensation, benefits, employee rights, unions (if applicable), and the employees' general responsibilities. The second component addresses job-specific issues that relate directly to new employee responsibilities, company expectations, and policies and procedures. This component serves to help employees perform, work through issues, and understand how their new team operates.

To reduce employee turnover and help your new staff members adopt a great attitude, consider these tips to implement a successful new employee orientation program.

Tips to Have a Successful New Employee Orientation Program

Regardless of their experience level and placement in the organization chart, new employees need information, a sincere welcome, an understanding of expectations, and a useful introduction to the policies and procedures that involve their tenure. Consider some of these specific action plans to help ensure a successful orientation program.

  • Emphasize the “people” factor as well as the job duties and procedures. Give equal time to the new employee’s peers and supervisors. Regardless of the talent level and experience the new employee brings, he/she is required to interface successfully with co-workers and management. Beyond simple introductions, allow the new employee to spend some quality time with staff, particularly with those members who will work closely with your new person.
  • Start the program with the most important issues. Everyone is more alert at the beginning of the day or program. This gives you time – even extra time if you need it – to fully cover the important issues and considerations. This also allows new employees to spend “getting to know you” time after the important job and company specifics have been covered in detail.
  • Don’t overwhelm new employees with too many details or introductions at once. Even the brightest new employee can be overwhelmed with data, information, and new people if they're presented in “machine gun” fashion. Space out your program to keep it interesting and digestible. Covering policies and procedures, then interjecting an introduction or two, and finally moving to some duties and responsibilities should keep the new employee’s interest and allow him/her to better absorb the information.
  • Use a buddy/mentor system. Having an experienced employee serve as an orientation mentor for the new staff member accomplishes a number of positive goals. This action can relieve new employee anxiety, provide a primary source of information after orientation, and offer a “buddy” to help the new employee start his/her company tenure in the right direction. A word of caution: Don’t simply pick someone without their express desire to fill this role. This will eliminate the risk of the “buddy” feeling challenged by the new employee and possibly having the wrong outlook on the temporary mentor duties.
  • Emphasize the general as well as the specific. While it may be difficult to fully explain your corporate culture, you can emphasize the company’s mission, brand, function, goals, and objectives. This is important for providing a “global” picture of the new employer and helps new employees understand how they “fit” in with their team and their company.

Using these tips helps create a successful new employee orientation program by infusing a sense of belonging as well as dispensing critical information to help ensure a high-performing tenure.