You’ve finally found a good candidate for the position. It’s been hard work, it has taken strategic thinking, and now you want the new staff member to settle into the job and be productive as soon as possible. Now all you have to do is go through the new employee orientation process.

While you might be thinking, “big deal, been there, done that,” it’s not that simple. Getting the orientation right is important. If you manage to do it right, it might increase employee retention by up to 25%.

If not, however, it might end up costing you up to half of the employee annual salary. So, here’s a tip or two on how to rock the employee orientation process.

1. Tip Number One: Know What You’re Trying to Achieve

You’re busy, and it may be tempting to do the bare minimum: “Here’s your desk. There’s the loo. Lunch is from 12:30 to 1:30. Have fun!” But onboarding’s goals go above and beyond these functional basics.

Employee orientation should strive to:

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  • Communicate the culture and values that make your business special. Culture (and making sure that your employees are a part of it) is extremely important: it increases the engagement rates, lowers the turnover & absenteeism, etc.
  • Help new employees to understand the purpose behind the tasks they do. Where do they fit into the organization? How do they contribute to the business’ goals and what are those goals and objectives?
  • Shorten costly learning curves. What procedures and processes must your new employee be familiar with? What’s the right way to get things done?
  • Help employees to build positive working relationships with their new colleagues. After all, they will be spending a lot of time together every day. A positive team culture builds individual motivation.

2. Start Employee Orientation Before the New Staff Member Arrives

Before your bright new staff member arrives, you need to get yourself organized. An employee onboarding checklist can help ensure that everything is in place and that there are no unpleasant surprises or unnecessary delays. Of course, depending on your business needs and industry, the checklist may vary. Most probably, however, you’ll have to tackle some of the most common tasks:

  • Make sure everyone in the workplace, and particularly those who will be working closely with the new staff member, knows that a new colleague will be starting work. They need to know what their new workmate will do and how it will relate to their work. They’ll also be ready and prepared to welcome their new team member. If you forget to do this, it’ll be a very awkward experience for everyone:
    “You’re the new employee? Um. Dave, who’s this guy and do we have a new employee?”
  • Decide what your new employee will do on his or her first day and prepare a program. You don’t want the new employee just sitting around waiting for someone to pay attention to them.
  • Be sure that the workstation is ready to receive the new employee. It should be clean, neat, properly equipped, and organized.
  • Prepare a folder with all the relevant workplace policy and procedure documents as well as a copy of the employment contract. Include information on employee benefits.
  • Your new employee will need a go-to person who can help with basics, especially during the first week. Allocate a “buddy” who can help with day-to-day questions.
  • Decide whether formal meetings with other staff members should be set up. Although this is particularly important when you have recruited someone for a management position, regular staffers will also need to understand the roles other employees have in the organization.
  • Prepare a training plan that covers the first few months of employment. What do they need to know about your business and how the post you’ve assigned them fits into the picture? Are there unique skills they need to learn?

Missing each of the steps we mentioned can be very critical both for the employee and the company. To make sure that everything goes as planned, you might want to try using workflow management software. Tallyfy can help streamline the onboarding process, ensuring that you’ll never miss a critical step.

3. Make Sure Your Onboarding Checklist is Followed Through

Now that the big day’s finally here, it’s time to actually start the orientation process. You have a lot to cover, so once again, a checklist helps you to verify that no element has been overlooked. Here’s a couple of things you’d want to do when the new employee shows up:

  • Be available to greet and welcome the new employee. He or she will be feeling very nervous, so consider kicking off with a cup of coffee and a friendly chat.
  • Explain what the first day’s program consists of.
  • Take the new staff member for a tour of the premises and introduce them to other staff members.
  • Issue any equipment that’s needed to get the job done.
  • Issue any necessary keys and passes.
  • Have lunch with the new employee, or arrange for a lunch companion.
  • Communicate dates for follow-up meetings and training sessions.
  • Review the employment contract and ensure that he or she understands elements such as probationary periods.
  • Review the job description and the key performance indicators that will be used to measure performance.
  • Set targets and timeframes for a preliminary performance appraisal.
  • Go through an organogram showing organizational structure and reporting lines.
  • Discuss the code of conduct and basic policies such as those you apply to telephone and internet use.
  • Brief the new employee on benefits and provide any forms that he or she must fill in.
  • Provide any forms that you will require in order to prepare the employee’s personnel records.

4. Beware of Information Overload

There’s a lot of information to share, and trying to cram everything into one day will make it harder for the new hire to absorb all the necessary information. It, therefore, makes sense to schedule onboarding information sessions across several days or even weeks, breaking employee orientation into bite-size chunks.

Day one shouldn’t leave you and your new employee feeling as if you’ve been through the wringer. Begin with the basics that will allow the new staff member to be productive. Ideally, information sessions should not last longer than one hour. This not only minimizes disruption to your existing staff’s schedule but also gives your new employee time to absorb each set of information before you present the next one.

Depending on the complexity of your organization, onboarding training might take a handful of meetings – or it could span the first three months.

5. Remember That Employee Orientation Should Feel Welcoming

First impressions count. Your new employee is an actual person, not just a worker bee. You want to make them feel welcome and accepted as a person. After all, he or she is now part of your team, and that’s something both of you should celebrate. Add a few simple considerations that will show you care and want your employee to feel at home. These could include:

  • Offering information on carpooling or public transport options
  • Discussing local snack bars and coffee shops your team likes to frequent
  • Taking a photo of new employees and presenting them with a framed print as a memento of the occasion.
  • Putting together a small welcome gift
  • Arranging a small celebration with co-workers

6. Get Productive on Day One

You and your new employee already have something in common: both of you want to get work done. Ensure that the new staff member can be useful and productive from the very first day. Once the first orientation meetings are over and the basics are in place, let new employees get to work.

Even if your business is quite a small one, you probably won’t get the whole employee orientation process done on the first day. However, there will be plenty of time to focus on the finer aspects of orientation later on.

7. Don’t Forget to Follow Up

Having done so much work, and having imparted so much, you may think your employee orientation job is done. But if you leave it at that, you might miss out on some valuable feedback you can use to make your next onboarding program even more effective.

Follow-up also gives your new hire an opportunity to find out whether you’re satisfied with progress so far.

During follow-up you may want to look at the following:

  • Any questions and concerns that the new employee has now that he or she has had a little time to settle in.
  • Revisit the mission, vision and strategic priorities of your organization with reference to how the employee contributes to organizational goals.
  • Discuss the employee’s progress so far, referring to the goals set for the first performance appraisal.
  • Discuss formal and informal training plans and resources.
  • Ask for suggestions on how to improve the onboarding process.

Key Take-Aways

Onboarding isn’t just a matter of a few formalities. An effective employee orientation program will help your new hire to become a valuable team member. It will enhance employee progress and will help you to retain staff. To tie this up, let’s look at a few key takeaways.

  • Have a comprehensive plan and be prepared.
  • Celebrate! Introduce fun elements into your program. New employees are people too.
  • Schedule and track employee orientation progress.
  • Follow up. Get and give feedback.
  • Look for ways to make employee orientation even more effective and aim for continuous improvement.
  • Be organized.

Streamlining the Orientation Process

Because effective employee orientation involves so many steps, and because several people or departments might contribute to it, you can easily omit some vital element.

Imagine having your employee wait for hours and hours because no one has the time to pay attention to them, or having their workspace computer out of commission. Neither of those is a good first impression.

To make sure that you’ll never miss an important step onboarding your new employee, you can adopt a workflow management software. Tallyfy can help you to set up, manage, monitor, analyse, and improve any business process – including orientation. So, why not try Tallyfy for free? Your future employees might love you for it!

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