It's difficult to overestimate the value of proper new employee orientation. As part of a strategic onboarding process, orientation can offer some compelling benefits:
- Reduces a new employee's anxiety
- Cuts down on the time and effort needed by managers to answer basic questions
- Helps confirm the new hire's belief that he or she made the right choice about employment
Perhaps best of all, a well-structured orientation enables the new employee to hit the ground running, thus reducing the time and money needed for training and less attention needed by your HR department.
These tangible benefits make it all the more imperative to avoid common missteps regarding new employee orientation. Given the prospect of turnover (and the time and expense involved in replacing a new hire), business owners and HR managers will see a greater ROI by not committing these critical mistakes:
Bombard the new hire with information. An employee who's new to your organization has a lot to learn, but it doesn't have to be all in one day. Some businesses use the occasion to dump massive amounts of information on the new hire, without recognizing that it's virtually impossible for anyone to assimilate all this data and retain it.
Bury the "new guy" in paperwork. The same mistake applies to paperwork every new employee must complete. Depending on the business, completing tax and benefits information and other forms can consume hours in the orientation day. There are sufficient tools, technology, and resources available that allocate the time it takes the employee to complete necessary paperwork ahead of time, prior to that all-important first day on the job, and still allows you to comply with wage and hour requirements.
Just "play it by ear." A business that lacks a formal or structured orientation process can give the new hire a bad first impression. If she sees people who race around without talking to her or just dump the employee handbook on the table and move on, she may justifiably wonder if this is how the whole organization is run. A negative first impression can also play a part in an employee's later decision to leave that business.
No one shows the new hire around. Simply having a friendly staff person greet the new employee makes a world of difference. People are anxious enough about a new job without sitting by themselves in the lunchroom and having no one there to show them the ropes. What's even more important is that the "greeter" provide inside information – on parking, favorite lunch spots, employee team-building activities – which shed light on the company culture and demonstrate the importance placed on making everyone feel welcomed, especially a new person.
Don't give the new hire anything to do. Of course, the new employee has a lot to absorb on their first day, but if several days go by and there's no work to be done, a new person can begin to feel isolated and useless. You've decided to recruit and hire this individual because they have key skills and experience; don't hesitate to give them the opportunity to leverage those abilities on the company's behalf.
What's the best way to avoid these potentially critical mistakes? Put together a new employee orientation checklist, advises Tanya Johnson, Paychex HR Services Human Resources Consultant. "The checklist can address benefits, safety, department procedures, job duties, etc.," Johnson notes. "At the end of the week, both the employee and supervisor can review the checklist, acknowledging the items completed. This eliminates any confusion in the future and it helps keep everyone on track during what can be a busy week."
Putting together a structured and effective orientation process can help instill a sense of loyalty that pays off in longer employee retention – a plus for any small business.