The 4 Secrets to New Hire Orientation: #3 – The Content of New Hire Orientation
By Jennifer Comella, Training Manager
As we mentioned in the past, new hire orientation is an event that occurs during the very first few days of employment and is one step in the onboarding journey. Our third of four webinars in “The 4 Secrets to Differentiate your Onboarding Experience,” shared information on some important content to include in your new hire orientation event. New hire orientation shapes the future for employees and sets you, your company and your new staff up for success and longevity, so it is important to ensure you are including culture rich, useful information in your new hire’s first few days.
New hire orientation serves as one of the first drivers of employee engagement in an organization and can help retain employees down the road. This impressionable time in an employee’s career should be filled with practical, helpful information that provides a sense of the true culture and routine of your workplace. To get started, we suggest some must-have topics for your new hire orientation program:
1) What: Greeting and settling in time
Why: This is a must for your new employee. Navigating to a new setting for maybe the first or second time can be stressful, so give your new employee time to set aside any pre-arrival nerves.
Who: This greeting can be made by a number of people, and it depends on your organization’s security, building, and staff schedules. Pick the right ambassador by selecting a friendly, warm face who will serve as a cheery first peek into your culture.
When: As the very first activity on the first day of new hire orientation, provide 15-20 minutes to find training space, settle into a seat, use the restroom and get a refreshment. During this time, Marcum also chooses to provide the Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic (VAK) assessment to all new employees. This gives our trainers the opportunity to gear their delivery to the learners attending orientation.
2) What: Meeting a leader
Why: Provides new staff with insight into how their role fits into the organization. Leadership can provide an overview of the company industry, history, mission and structure as well as individual reassurance of each new hire’s potential to contribute.
Who: Consider rotating leaders who are approachable, friendly and willing.
When: This can be done within the first one-to-three days of orientation.
3) What: Equipment Training
Why: The type and complexity of equipment will vary depending on the industry, company and position. Nonetheless, it is important to give a new employee training on how to properly use the equipment they will be responsible for operating. This could be for safety and compliance reasons, or because the position is loosely dependent on a piece of equipment, such as a computer.
Who: Usually a subject matter expert in your IT department who has been trained on adult learning principles, or your learning and development trainer who has experience with the equipment and is trained on how to use it.
When: This can be done within the first one-to-three days of the orientation.
Some other suggested training topics to include in the first week of training include:
- HR paperwork
- Building tour
- Intranet navigation
- Payroll and benefits
- Training and development overview
- Performance process timeline
- Safety/compliance training
- Specialized training
Determining the best topics to offer is a major milestone to accomplish when implementing new hire orientation. Once that milestone has been completed, you’ll have to tackle prioritizing the order of those topics to fit within the time you’ve set aside for your orientation program.
One special consideration as you prioritize and rearrange your schedules is whether or not to have a hosted lunch, or even how your lunch break will be structured. Offering a hosted lunch on the first or second day of orientation can take the burden off a new employee of finding something to eat in a new setting, or preparing lunch ahead of time. If providing a hosted lunch is an option for you, consider pairing the new employee with their direct supervisor. This allows the supervisor to focus on getting to know their new team member and for the new team member to feel more comfortable about transitioning to the team after orientation.
As you approach scheduling your orientation topics, consider the following when planning your orientation:
- The length of each day
- More or less than 8 hours
- Arrival time based on traffic and business hours
- Departure time based on traffic and business hours
- Pace of information
- Mix longer and shorter topics for variety and activity
- Order of topics
- Ensure they build on one another
- Consider compliance requirements
- Schedule breaks
- Provide downtime for employees to let information sink in
- Vary the delivery styles
- Independent activities
- Group activities
Finally, consider including fun, get-to-know-you topics in your new hire orientation. Some suggestions are below, but we encourage you to determine fun topics based on your organization.
- Scavenger hunt (can be done online or physically)
- Crossword or other word games
- Charitable, hands-on work (such as building a bike or bear)
In conclusion, remember that new hire orientation is one of your earliest drivers of employee engagement and productivity. The schedule and topics included will play a substantial role in the employee’s impression of orientation and the company. To conclude orientation, consider enhancing communication and collaboration within your company by offering a personality or communication tool such as Meyers-Briggs, DiSC or The Birkman Method. If a communication tool is regularly used within your company to expose strengths, it can have a tremendous effect on productivity, engagement and innovation. Some suggested uses for this type of assessment include:
- Creating self-awareness
- Learning strengths of team members, co-workers and leaders
- Enhancing collaboration of teams and individuals
- Assembling project teams
- Aligning coaching and supervisory assignments
FREE download: New Hire Orientation Checklist
Marcum has developed a comprehensive FREE New Hire Orientation Preparation Checklist designed to help HR staffs in planning and executing winning new hire orientation programs. This proprietary 20-point checklist includes tasks that are grouped conveniently in a timeline format.