Five Tips for Employee Orientations

We’ve all heard how important it is to make a good first impression, but for businesses in today’s economy, creating a positive first impression with new hires is more crucial than ever before.

Recently I completed my 90-day review at Standing Partnership, a significant milestone in any career. Though it’s only been a few months since joining the team, I don’t feel like the new girl by any stretch of the imagination. Overall, my transition to life at Standing was a pretty seamless one. Part of that may have stemmed from my previous work experience at similar organizations, but I think a lot of it was due to the orientation process in place at Standing.Welcome_Card_2-302x300-150x150

We’ve all heard how important it is to make a good first impression, but for businesses in today’s economy, creating a positive first impression with new hires is more crucial than ever before. According to Fast Company, the median number of years a U.S. worker has been at his or her current job is just 4.4. For millenials, that number is even lower – roughly 70 percent of Gen-Y employees leave their first job within two years. And despite high unemployment, one in three employers report difficulty filling vacant roles.

Based on these statistics alone, it’s clear that taking the time to implement effective new employee orientation programs is not only beneficial to your new hire, it’s beneficial to your company’s overall financial health. As a relatively new employee myself, here are a few tips I have for creating an engaging orientation experience.

1.    Involve your new hire in meaningful work from the beginning - While it’s important to give your new employee time to feel settled, it doesn’t take two weeks to organize pens and pencils at a desk. In fact, Inc. recommends having your new hire complete at least one job-related task on their first day. Speaking from experience, I appreciated receiving client work my first week on the job at Standing. Not only did it break up some of the monotony of sitting in orientation sessions, it also made me feel like a contributing member of the team from the very beginning.  

2.    Provide timely feedback - New employees are always going to make mistakes, so don’t be afraid to correct them when you see them. It’s the only way to learn. It’s much easier to correct a mistake early than to break a well-established bad habit later. At the same time, be sure to acknowledge good work when you see it. It’s always nice to know when your work is appreciated.

3.    Know your office jargon - SMEs (subject matter experts), EDPs (employee development plans) and RATs (rapid action teams) are all frequently used terms at Standing, but use them with an outsider and you’ll likely get that deer-in-the-headlights stare. Luckily, my orientation leaders were quick to point out and define nebulous acronyms right away, so I wasn’t left scratching my head. In fact, Standing is even putting together an office glossary as a reference tool for new employees. 

4.    Have frequent check-ins - Most orientation sessions end with an opportunity to ask questions. However, employees are often so new they don’t even know what questions to ask. My supervisor at Standing recognized this reality, so she scheduled my “monthly” supervisor meeting to occur every other week, at least for the first few months, which allowed me to ask more questions as they came to me.   

5.    Provide opportunities for continuous learning - No matter how well you develop your orientation program, there is always more to learn. One of my favorite aspects of working at Standing is my ability to take time during the workday to participate in worthwhile webinars, professional luncheons and conferences that contribute to my professional development. When onboarding new hires, make sure you tell them about your company’s policies regarding continued learning, as well as any other opportunities available for professional development.

These are just a few of my own tips for establishing meaningful orientation programs. What are some of your suggestions for onboarding a new hire?

  • Mihaela Grad

    Ashley,

    Thank you for providing your perspective as a new hire. It’s a good reminder for those who have been with a company for a while to remember what type of support is important to provide new employees so they can quickly become productive and feel fulfilled.

  • Vicki Cummiskey

    Your orientation experience aligns with the work of Harvard Business School researchers, who say MAKING PROGRESS on meaningful work is most important to employee motivation, engagement and positive, productive inner work life surges:  http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/6685.html

    I particularly like the researchers’ additional analysis of workday diaries to determine factors that facilitate progress, looking at the role of “‘catalysts’ (events that helped a project move forward) and ‘nourishers’ (interpersonal interactions that lifted people’s spirits).

    Congrats on completing your first three months at Standing Partnership, and wishing you many more meaningful work days to come, Ashley!

  • Ashley Pitlyk

    Vicki,

    Your article gave me flashbacks to my SLU days, sitting in Dr. Krizek’s organizational communication course (a GREAT class, by the way). I agree that the catalysts and nourishers mentioned in the article are pretty spot on. Thanks for sharing!