Orientation (or lack of it) will make a significant difference to your employees’ attitude about their position, co-workers and organisation. It will also contribute to how quickly they can be welcome into the workplace, become more productive, and become part of the team. Over the long term, this can even influence overall job satisfaction and determine whether a staff member decides to stay.
Below are some strategies to help you successfully orient your new staff.
Plan for Orientation
- Take time to prepare for orientation (before the person starts). This may including reviewing orientation processes, setting up meetings, preparing the employee's workspace, or letting people know that a new employee is starting.
- Stay in touch with the new employee after he or she has accepted the position to answer questions or help in other ways. Think about what aspects of orientation need to be provided before the employee starts (e.g. relocation, contract, accommodation, office location etc). You might want to direct the new employee to resources available on the Internet before they start.
Develop an Orientation Timetable
- Develop an orientation timetable to make sure the new employee receives a comprehensive, structured orientation to the organisation and work role.
- Obviously the first week will be the most time intensive. However, you should allocate time in the following weeks to continue with the orientation process. Quarantining time for orientation is important. Appendix three provides a suggested orientation table.
- Spread orientation out over a three-month orientation period. Don’t expect to provide all details about the organisation, its management, philosophies, guidelines and specific job duties into a 3-day orientation marathon. Consider orientation a process, not a one-time event.
Engage the Employee in Orientation
- Engage the employee in orientation. Many aspects of orientation can be self-directed.
- Orientation should emphasise people as well as procedures and things. New employees need to quickly establish relationships with the other people in the organisation so that they feel comfortable asking questions and seeking help.
- Send memo or email to all staff welcoming the new employee on their first day of commencement.
- Assign a mentor or buddy to help the new employee until they feel more confident. This provides a dedicated person to ask questions or for support in their day-to-day duties.
- Schedule regular catch ups with the new employee (for example at the end of the first week, first month and first three months) for an ‘orientation check’ to see if the job is everything they thought it would be and to answer any questions they may have.
Orientation beyond the workplace
- Don’t forget to include newcomers in social events outside of work. Being invited to the local watering hole after work can make the employee feel like they belong.
- Keep the new person's family in mind. A new job means adjustment for the entire family, especially if they have relocated. Do what you can to ease the transition and help them feel comfortable in the community.
- Ask the employee about the effectiveness of the orientation process. Find out what is working and what is not in order to continually revise, update and improve your new employee orientations.
The Orientation Checklist & Schedule page provides some tools that may be helpful.