Can you remember the day you started at a new school? Do you recall the feeling of anticipation, the nerves, the worries? Little did you know that it was just a practice run for your working life and the first day you walk through your new employer’s doors!
Now, I don’t know about you, but I’ve had my fair share of great and not-so-great inductions when I’ve been hired: all the way from a fun and engaging welcome week with plenty of orientation activities, down to someone pointing at a seat and saying ‘That’s your cubicle. Enjoy.’ and walking off. Needless to say, I didn’t stay at that last job for long.
It’s not enough to just hire good employees – you also have to put the effort in to bring them on board with an onboarding program, to help them find their feet and get to work happily and productively.
Have a great new hire orientation program and you’re likely to get someone who will stay motivated and engaged with your company for years to come. Get it wrong, and you may find yourself having to hire new people over and over, wondering why people don’t stay for long.
So, what do you need to include in a great new hire orientation? What do your new employees need to know? Let’s look at the kind of information you should include and how you can deliver it.
Your New Hire Orientation Checklist
The first thing you need to do is decide what someone joining your company for the first time really needs to know. Use your own experience as a guide – what was your orientation experience like? What information was useful, and what was not so good? At this stage, you may want to consult with your colleagues and ask their opinion on the matter. If you work for a large organization, try to talk to people from as many different departments as possible. A great induction for one team may not be as useful for a different group.
Here are some ideas to consider when you’re onboarding your new hires. Of course, you will probably have other things you’ll have to include, depending on what your organization does, but I think you’ll find these points are widely applicable to any good employee orientation.
Finding their feet
There’s nothing more likely to disaffect a new hire than not being able to find their way around their workplace. Everything from the location of the photocopier to where to get a coffee is important for grounding new employees and getting them settled. The first day in any new job is disorienting enough, so aim to make it easy for them to ease into things.
Don’t focus on too much detail at this stage – instead, focus on the practical steps that will ensure your new hire will feel at home. Show them around the place. Point out where the amenities are. Help them get their ID cards, and ensure that they can log on to the PC. Focusing on these quotidian issues early on is the best way to reassure your new employee.
Above all, make them feel welcome. Introduce them to the team they’ll be working with. You may also want someone to act as a mentor or a ‘work buddy’, initially.
Okay, so what about new hires who work remotely? Not everyone commutes into an office these days, of course. Well, you still need to make them welcome in the same way – it’s just that you will make that happen exclusively through an online platform. Team introductions can always be done using your Learning and Talent Development Platform, and key information about where to find your company’s ‘virtual amenities’ (i.e. the files, software, etc. that your new hire needs to access) can be put into the online employee orientation course.
We do things this way
Every company is different and has its own ways of dealing with things – and this can be disorienting for a new hire. In a way, it’s akin to the culture shock one can feel when moving to a different country. And often, it’s the little things that can have the biggest impact on how a new hire feels about their workplace: If you have traditions such as Pizza Tuesday or Dress Down Friday, make sure to let them know.
Of course, there will be the more serious things to consider as well, such as meeting times or expected deadline targets, but your company culture is made up of many facets – try to include all of them. It’s all about making your new employee feel included.
Who we are, where we are, and where we’re going
It’s vital that your new hire gets to understand the company as a whole, from its origin to its future aims.
Of course, you’d expect someone who starts working for you to have read up on your business before even being interviewed, but the perspective changes from an external view to an internal one once they come in on their first day.
If a new hire understands how the company evolved, how it operates now, and its vision for the future, then they are again more likely to feel involved, included, and ready to be productive from the get-go.
Now, this doesn’t have to be an epic tale on the scale of Lord of The Rings: Instead, keep it simple. A lot of this can be done using an online employee orientation course, possibly with a short, fun test added at the end.
How we run
It’s a surprising thing, but many new hire induction programs don’t include information about how a company is managed – straightforward things such as where HR is based, who a new employee’s line manager is, or indeed who the bosses are. I once worked in a place where I used to share the lift every day with some old guy. It was only six months in that I realized he was the CEO!
Ensuring that new hires understand how your company operates, who the managers are, how they can communicate effectively with their team and managers, are all sure-fire ways to help them get into a routine easily and efficiently.
The traditional way of communicating this information is in a good old induction handbook or employee guide. Instead, you may find it better to hold small group meetings with senior staff and new hires, or have a webinar Q&A session, featuring your managers.
Yes, the dreaded ‘P’ word. There’s no getting around it: whenever a new hire starts, there’s bound to be a fair amount of documentation to be covered, along with aspects such as health and safety, compliance and company policies.
Again, the traditional way of dealing with this is via handbooks and long (and frequently dull) induction day workshops. Fortunately, this needs not be the case these days. Much of the hard work of going through all these necessary pieces can be done in an online course format.
The advantage of doing this is that the new hire can work at their own pace, and the content can be adaptable according to the individual needs of each employee and exactly which department he or she is going to work in.
Alternatively, you could create a blended learning solution, where your new hires have to complete certain online tasks at home, then have a smaller, shorter induction meeting, where you’ll be able to get a good idea of what they know and understand.
So what is new hire orientation all about?
Ultimately, a new hire orientation program is all about making your new employees feel part of the family. Get it right, and you’ll have a long, productive future together. And in today’s super fast-paced workplace, choosing to onboard new hires online is a sure-fire way to ensure this happens cost-effectively and can be used as reference, till the new employee is up-and-running.
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