Planning for a Positive New Hire Orientation

Column by Ned Frazier


You worked hard to find the "magic" person to join your team. Now the hard work begins. Attracting quality new hires is one thing; retaining them is another thing. The first step to retention is designing a new hire orientation program. First impressions are very important, and how you plan and welcome the new hire will have a dramatic impact on retention.

One national study found that new employees who received a positive new hire orientation program were 69 percent more likely to be with the company three years longer than those who did not. Another study revealed that employees who received a well-planned orientation to their new company and their job reached full productivity two months sooner than those who did not, and have lower turnover.

The first day of employment with a new company is the beginning of a partnership. A positive impression of the new employer greatly impacts the new employee's motivation, productivity and job satisfaction. The orientation is not necessarily an expensive process, but certainly pays dividends with greater job satisfaction and lower turnover.

Prepare in advance for the arrival of the new hire. Create a checklist of action items that need to be addressed before the new hire arrives. The checklist should include things like office location, computer and printer, email address, business cards, name plate for workstation/office and office key, at a minimum. These actions communicate to the new hire that you have been busy preparing for their arrival.

Imagine the feeling of arriving at your new employer's place of business and nobody knew you were starting that day. It happens. A "Welcome John Smith" greeting sign in reception starts the day off on a very positive note.

What topics should be addressed in the new hire orientation program? Certainly the program should include:

  • History of the company and the industry the company is involved
  • Organization chart and discussion on the leadership within the company
  • Mission Statement/Vision/Goals of the company
  • Review the Position Description and discuss how the new hires duties tie to the success of the company
  • There is always a huge amount of "paperwork" to go through, including W-4, I-9, Colorado Affirmation form, Colorado New Hire Reporting, Employee Handbook, Direct Deposit, Employee Contact Information Sheet, and Employee Benefit package (medical/dental insurance, 401(k), etc.).
  • Tour of the office/plant, introduce new to the rest of the team
  • Office tour includes location of coffee bar/lunch room, rest rooms, parking locations, etc.
  • Allocate time to familiarize new hire with company leadership and corporate community activities
  • Design position-related orientation, meeting with team members they will be working with to gain an understanding of how their job responsibilities interact with other members of the team

Schedule the orientation so you don't overwhelm the new hire, but provide information that will help them gain an overall understanding of who we are as a company and our goals and objectives.

The first day with a new company is a lot like the first day of attending a new school. The new hire feels like that person, an outsider who needs to be welcomed and made to feel like a member of the team. A successful orientation combines a lot of little things that, if done well, really does make the person feel welcome and confirms they made a good decision to join your company. You want your newest member of your team to go home after the first day and, with an excited voice, tell their family "Wow, I have joined a great company."

Onboarding is much more than what happens on the first day of employment. It can and should be an on-going process to help the new team member learn as much about your company, your industry, the other team members, and the culture of your unique business. We suggest you develop a program that includes information on the products/services your company sells, a field trip to see the end product in use, safety programs, have a DVD available on your annual open enrollment meeting so the new hire receives the same information about your benefit programs.

The cost of turnover can be anywhere from 25 percent to 100 percent of a new hire's first year's salary. By improving your hiring practices and creating a robust new hire orientation, you are making major steps towards reducing costs and creating an environment where people want to work.



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