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Orienting Employees

Although sessions should be welcoming, orientations for new employees should also be more than a feel-good gesture. The most effective orientations help new employees understand what will be expected of them and prepare them for the organization’s work culture.

Communicate the organization’s big picture

Where is your organization going? Too often, however, these goals aren’t shared with new employees whose efforts help determine whether the organization’s goals are met. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that employees, even entire departments, sometimes operate under disparate assumptions about the company’s priorities and objectives.

Describe the unspoken company culture

Company culture cannot be fully captured in job descriptions or employee manuals, because culture is both explicit and unspoken. Most employees determine what behaviors are acceptable as the organization evolves. However, an effective orientation can help new employees transition more easily into the unique culture of your organization.

Some unspoken aspects of company culture to share are:

  • Dress code
  • Internal communication
  • Phone etiquette
  • Parking
  • Lunch
  • Work hours

Share the routine details

To help new employees get started, be sure that they know:

  • The layout of your office or campus
  • The location of the restrooms
  • Names and contact information of two coworkers
  • Outline the employee’s specific role
  • The best way for new employees to become productive quickly is by immersing themselves in their new positions.

Too often, supervisors and managers aren’t available when new employees start, so employees are left with little more to do than read the company handbook during their first few days on the job. This can be confusing, especially for new employees who are expecting a challenging, fast-paced environment.

Introduce new employees to their jobs. The best employee orientations conclude with introductions to each employee’s specific job role. If several employees in a single role have been hired at one time, this introduction can occur in a group setting. Otherwise, new employees should receive one-on-one introductions from their managers or team leaders as part of their orientation.

Supervisor’s Checklist for Orienting New Employees
  • Introduction to co-workers.
  • Company operations and activities.
  • Building or plan layout, including employees’ parking areas and entrances, fire exits, bulletin boards, cafeteria/break areas, and rest rooms.
  • Starting and quitting times, work schedule location, pay dates and procedures, overtime and other forms of compensation, break and meal periods.
  • Policies on preventing and reporting accidents, and how to obtain emergency medical attention.
  • Dress and attendance standards.
  • Telephone use policies
  • When and whom to contact in case of absence.
  • Provide a written job description and a blank copy of performance evaluation review form.
  • Performance standards.
  • First work assignments.
  • Training to do the job.
  • Person to go to for help.
  • Procedures for obtaining work supplies
  • Other company policies and procedures.
  • Before the arrival of a new employee.

A department can prepare for a new employee’s first day of work by completing the following activities.

  • Set up an email account.
  • Set up a telephone.
  • Clean the office or work area where the employee will be assigned and provide basic supplies.
  • Confirm salary and hours of employment with new staff member.
  • Inform department staff and key clients of the employee’s arrival date.
  • Make arrangements for the new employee to have lunch with his/her supervisor or co-workers on the first day of work.

First Day of Employment

The following activities will help ensure that the new employee feels welcomed and comfortable on the first day on the job.

  • Welcome him/her upon arrival at the department.
  • Assign a clean desk or office.
  • Introduce him/her to co-workers and subordinates.
  • Give him/her a tour of the office space.
  • Have the department head and other key managers in the office greet the new employee.
  • Confirm that s/he has received an ID card and parking permit.
  • Provide keys to the office, desk, etc. Describe procedures for entering or locking work area, if appropriate.
  • Ensure that he/she has lunch plans.
  • Refer him/her to the GS Web sites.
  • Discuss his/her job description and job responsibilities.
  • Confirm the salary, pay schedule and check distribution procedures (including direct deposit) with the employee.
  • Confirm hours of employment, time off and overtime policies (for non-exempt employees), and call-in procedures for unscheduled absences.
  • Review holiday schedule and procedures for recording staff attendance.
  • Discuss safety policies and procedures.
  • Order business cards, if appropriate.

First Week of Employment

During the first week of employment, a new employee should gain an understanding of GS, his or her department, and his or her job responsibilities. The following activities and discussion will help accomplish these goals.

Discuss with the new employee:

  • The mission of GS.
  • The department’s mission and goals.
  • The organizational structure of the department.
  • Department standards for confidentiality, teamwork, professional behavior, communication, customer service, etc.

If the new employee is a manager, discuss:

  • Background, job goals, and performance of staff members.
  • The probationary policy and how evaluations will occur during the probationary period.

Provide the new employee with:

  • A plan for on-the-job training.
  • A list of key meetings and department events highlighting those in which the employee will be involved.
  • A department calendar.
  • A schedule of meetings with key people with whom he or she will work inside and outside the department.
  • Names of important resources.
  • An introduction to the personal computer, software and the GS Web site.
  • Emergency procedures.
  • Holidays
  • Gratuities
  • Information related to office protocols for telephone calls, e-mail, voice mail, the Web, meeting scheduling, use of copy machine and fax.
  • Standard operating procedures for the department such as where central files are located, who to see for supplies, how to mail information and packages, department work rules.
  • Locations of campus food services.

Orientation Articles

Last updated: 10/21/2022