Learning & Development

New Employee Orientation: How to Do It Right

Future job performance and retention start with the very first day on the job, say two HR experts. Here’s how to make that day, and what follows, worthwhile.

Remember your first day on the job? A bit terrifying, wasn’t it?

Even if you came from a similar position, there were new people to meet, new systems and procedures to learn, even perhaps a new language. “According to Unipub, we need a way to boost our ROI without impacting CPM. Jo, you’re new here, got any fresh perspectives on that?”

Sound familiar?

It does to HR consultants Jeannette L. Seibly and Dr. John W. Howard. Seibly is principal of SeibCo in Colorado, and Howard, a founder of Performance Resources, LLC, in Utah.

Writing in Seibly’s newsletter, Accelerate Success, the two have put together a list of parameters for the process of new employee orientation. They consider it one of the most important steps in the employment process, stating that customers, vendors, and all in the organization benefit “when new employees are well acclimated.”

Here’s what Seibly and Howard suggest:

–Start orientation before the first day. Make sure the newcomer knows such basics as where to park, what to wear, what documents to bring, and even what door to enter. A good person for supplying this information is the new supervisor, who’s likely already met the worker during the interview process. In addition, the work space should be properly supplied and prepared, and all needed paperwork gathered for a seamless onboarding process.

–Have a video and/or written materials on the company’s products or services. These supply a larger framework into which the new employee can see how what he or she does fits into the entire operation.

–Assign a mentor or key person to be available to answer questions, make introductions, and discuss any problems. This individual will also be in an ideal position to help you evaluate the newcomer’s progress.

–Go over the employee handbook with newcomers, chapter by chapter. Don’t depend on people reading the material on their own. Too often, it’s simply glanced at and then put in a drawer, perhaps never to be looked at again.

–Rotate newcomers through your different departments. It will help them learn the company’s systems and how they interact with their own position.

Day One Plus

Seibly and Howard emphasize that the first day is only the start of new employee orientation. The process should go on for up to a year.

At 3 months, the worker should get written feedback, including areas working out well and those that need improvement. And if the newcomer is a manager or supervisor, feedback should be via a 360 degree program. The newcomer’s boss and mentor should both be involved in the process. Then set goals for the next 3 months.

At 6 months, repeat the 3-month assessment and check progress on the goals set. A series of biweekly meetings with the boss as follow-up may be beneficial.

Finally, at 1 year, repeat the process again, but this time set goals for the next 12 months.

Proper new employee orientation, say the authors, will positively impact both job performance and retention. “If you’ve done a great job of acclimating a new employee for success,” they conclude, “everyone wins.”

Jeannette L. Seibly can be e-mailed at jlseibly@comcast.net, and Dr. John W. Howard at jwh@prol.ws.

No More Manuals!
Are your supervisors starting new workers off by having them read a pile of manuals? If so, they need to be trained on what a proper new employee orientation should be. Here’s the program to do it. It’s BLR’s Audio Click’n Train: New Employee Orientation: A How-To for Supervisors. Read More about it