Employee Orientation: Definition, Benefits & Best Practices

New employee orientation will help you to increase engagement and reduce employee turnover. Find out all you need to know with our definitive guide.

Written by: David Oragui

Published: April 13 2020

Illustration on employee orientation

Employee orientation plays an integral role in the ongoing success and growth of any modern organization, regardless of niche or sector, yet many businesses overlook this essential part of the onboarding process.

As an essential pillar of the onboarding process, orientation is an event that will help your new hire get off to the best possible start.

Here we consider the dynamics of a new hire orientation and how enhancing your internal strategy will accelerate your success in an increasingly competitive digital age.

What Is Employee Orientation?

Employee orientation is a process that offers a new hire the opportunity to get acquainted with core company values, get up close and personal with a wealth of departmental functions, meet new colleagues, and ask any burning work-related questions they might have up their sleeve.

It’s a formal and productive first impression and, as such, is one of the most important cogs in the overall onboarding process.

Why Do New Employee Orientations Matter?

First impressions count. That said, new hire orientations play a pivotal role in employee engagement and motivation.

Getting your employee orientation strategies right is essential as this one-off event will dictate how all future interactions will go between you and your new hire. It’s the declaration of a new professional relationship.

To put this notion into living, breathing perspective, here are the main reasons why HR orientation matters:

  • Introduce your new talent to your company’s core values, culture, and mission.
  • Share important information concerning internal activities and processes.
  • Manage expectations and speed up the integration process.
  • Provide your employee with a secure platform to share any opinions or voice any potential concerns.


A successful employee orientation process will not only help your new hire integrate into the business quicker, but it will also help you to tailor your training and development processes to their specific needs and preferences. Doing so will ensure increased success further down the line.


The Benefits of Employee Orientation Processes

The primary aim of your orientation efforts should be to make a new employee feel like a valued part of the company, not just a new hire.

By sharing your company values and getting your new hire excited about working with you, it's more than likely that they will not only gel with their colleagues more easily but hit the ground running in their new role.

If you get your new hire orientation activities right, you will reap great rewards. The more time, effort, and resources you invest in orientation and onboarding, the more cohesive your organization will become.

A negative onboarding experience doubles the chance of new hires looking for new opportunities in the near future. 

And given the fact that new employee orientation is the beating heart of the onboarding process, following the very best practices will make a significant difference to your organization.

Here are the key benefits of having a solid new hire orientation process from both an employer and employee perspective:

Employer:

  • As we touched on earlier, new hire orientation reduces staff turnover rates while boosting employee retention.
  • A detailed, engaging, and comprehensive orientation process will ultimately help to reduce the time it takes supervisors or managers to help new talent ‘learn the ropes’ and get started in their new role. In turn, this will boost productivity levels.
  • You will be able to bring all of the key information included in your employee handbook to life and put it into context.
  • Your new employee will be happy, motivated, and excited to start their new job.

Employee:

  • New hires will feel secure and welcome from the start of their journey within the organization.
  • A personable and informational orientation process will reduce the stress and anxiety around starting their new role.
  • The orientation process will empower new hires to understand how they can benefit the business both practically and culturally.
  • New hires will be able to share their thoughts, ideas, and feelings on their new role if they feel it’s necessary.


New Hire Orientation Best Practices

Now that we’ve covered the benefits of good HR orientation, let’s look at the best practices: ideas on how to approach your activities and what to include.

Before we explore new hire orientation best practices, it’s important to consider the core objectives of your activities (or the ‘four c’s,’ if you will):

  • Compliance (internal regulations, expectations, rules, policies, and paperwork)
  • Clarification (the new hire’s roles and responsibilities within the organization)
  • Culture (the company values, goals, and mission)
  • Connection (encouraging relationships and collaboration)


At each stage of the journey, you should consider how your activities or actions will impact on these key areas or concepts of orientation.

To help guide your efforts in the right direction, here is a rundown of new employee best practices.


Include the Right Information

From internal processes and cultural expectations to health and safety information, technical information, and beyond, you must take the time to include all essential information through the orientation process. We will cover this in a little more detail with the new employee orientation checklist.


Company Culture

Your orientation process is a chance to share your cultural values and put them into perspective. 

Make sure you run through your cultural activities and information in detail while offering examples of how you achieve your values in a practical sense. You should use visuals for this part of the process, if possible. Videos and image-centric handbooks often work well.


Tailor Your Orientation Process

In the digital age especially, using a ‘one size fits all’ process will not work. Remember, the aim here is to make your new employee feel valued, so make sure you know everything you need to about them before orientation and tailor your efforts accordingly.

For example, if your new hire has a hearing impairment, find out whether they will require visual aids or an interpreter before their orientation date. The point here is, be as accommodating and personal as humanly possible—a failure to do so could result in inflated staff turnover rates.


Involve Leadership

During your orientation, you should ensure, if possible, that senior members of staff are involved in the process. Doing so is likely to make your new hire feel more valued while providing them with pearls of wisdom from a senior leader’s perspective. 

Ultimately, this will make the process more meaningful and informational.


Be Dynamic and Conversational

Orientation shouldn’t be a one-way street. During the process, you should ask your new hire questions and allow them to share their views or opinions where appropriate. 

You should also ensure that your new hire orientation initiatives are engaging and interesting, which means using inspiring language, visuals, or even an interesting theme if you feel it will enhance the process.


Orientation Checklist For New Employees

You can use our new hire orientation checklist as a reference to ensure that all essential items are covered within your integration activities:

Paperwork:

Company Introduction:

  • Company overview
  • Brand mission and internal values
  • Overview of internal culture

Essential Information:

  • Departmental processes information
  • Expectations and functions of the new employee’s role
  • Outline of any business-based social events or activities
  • Health and safety and office details
  • Benefits and compensation essentials
  • Key company policies including sick leave and overtime
  • Employee handbook and materials including keycard, ID badge, login credentials, etc.

Remember:

  • Be conversational and allow the new hire to speak
  • Use videos and visuals that will enhance the process
  • Tailor the process to the individual or individuals as much as possible
  • Provide useful tours and introductions
  • Involve senior leaders or management
  • Ask for new hire feedback on the process so you can make tweaks and improvements
  • Evaluate your new hire orientation activities regularly to keep them fresh and relevant


To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace.” Doug Conant, CEO of Campbell’s Soup

There’s no denying it: your new employee orientation activities do have an impact on the overall success of your organization. 

Eighty-eight percent of organizations across industries have poor onboarding processes. 

By enhancing your new hire orientation processes you stand to push your company ahead of the pack, catalyzing your success in the process, and that is priceless.

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