Every year, American employers combined lose an estimated $37.5 billion simply because their employees don’t understand their roles. This staggering, yet avoidable reality is often a result of poorly-planned new employee orientation and onboarding. Without ensuring that new employees have a smooth transition into your company, they can’t possibly perform to their fullest potentials. So, let’s explore how your company can avoid adding to this $37 billion deficit.
As an employer, your new hire’s first few days are crucial; they set the stage for your relationship to either flourish or flounder going forward. This is where the importance of employee onboarding programs truly comes to light, and unfortunately it’s where employers, HR leaders, and other members of recruiting/onboarding programs fail very often. At E Group, we’ve discovered a vital connection between onboarding and employee engagement in our work with Fortune 1000 companies, government agencies, and the like, and we’re here to help.
In this article, we’ll outline a few actionable new employee orientation ideas and activities that your company can use as a guide in your onboarding program. We often consult our clients to embrace these new employee orientation ideas, but they’re also tried and true favorites in our very own office. Keep in mind that the importance of employee onboarding programs holds unique weight at every company, but it always comes down to the same goal: ensuring that new employees have a smooth transition so they’ll remain engaged and productive for the long haul.
4 Actionable New Employee Orientation Ideas
1. Plan for a memorable first day on the job.
First impressions matter, and in this case, first impressions happen on an employee’s first day. All at once, your new hire will feel nervous, excited, and overwhelmed on his/her first day, so be sure to plan for a productive day that also isn’t overly stressful. On day one, ensuring new employees have a smooth transition into your company starts with the basics. Here are a few action items to add to your first day checklist for new hire onboarding:
- Give your new hires clear directions (by foot, bike, car, or public transit) to your office. Getting lost en route to your first day isn’t a great way to start.
- Assign a familiar face (i.e. the person who hired/interviewed them) to greet them when they arrive.
- Gradually settle in with some one-on-one time, during which you can review basic information about the company.
- Go for a walk around the office, and point out important landmarks (i.e. bathroom, coffee maker, water fountain, etc.).
- Take a break, and treat your new hire to lunch or coffee.
- Introduce your new hire to their team, floor, and perhaps the entire company (dependent on size).
- Set up their workspace (ideally before they arrive), and give them ample time to get comfortable.
- Make them feel welcome, and let them know how excited you are to have them.
2. Set up a formal onboarding program.
Your company should create an official, long term checklist for new hire onboarding. Both the new hires and those who train new hires should be taken into consideration. For example, within the first few days, new hires should be aware of essential company facts, such as history, operating structure, job expectations, vacation policies, and more. On the flipside, the people who train new hires should be provided with a clear outline of the information that needs to be covered.
The HR gurus at the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) created a general checklist for new hire onboarding. It serves as a fantastic starting point for companies looking to plan a new hire orientation and onboarding program. We this list because it’s straightforward, compact, and printable, which is helpful if you’re in a time crunch.
But, it’s important to remember that SHRM’s list simply covers the basics of employee onboarding. You’ll also need to review topics specific to your new hire’s role, such as day-to-day responsibilities, clients, team members, and more. An engagement agency, like E Group, can help your company plan a new hire orientation and onboarding program molded to your specific needs and goals. In the meantime, draw inspiration from SHRM’s checklist for new hire onboarding.
3. Organize team building events that include new hires.
When you set out to plan a new hire orientation and onboarding program, it’s important to consider the cohesion of your company as a whole. It’s the perfect time to plan team building events that foster unity and strong bonds throughout your entire workforce, especially as the office dynamic shifts with the addition of new hires.
Your employees’ schedules are probably busy and don’t line up perfectly. Nevertheless, you should still carve out a few minutes to introduce your new hires and make them feel like they’re part of the team. If time allows, this is the perfect opportunity to plan a group lunch, happy hour, or outing, thus cementing these new bonds. Take a look at E Group’s favorite team building activities as well as a collection of time and budget-friendly team building ideas.
4. Touch base with your new employees.
Your efforts for ensuring that new employees have a smooth transition into your company doesn’t stop after day one, week one, or even year one. If your company hopes to keep its employees around for the long haul, always remember the importance of employee onboarding programs, but also remember that they can’t fizzle out after an employee’s initial transition.
The new employee orientation ideas above are perfect to implement during an employee’s first few days and weeks, but afterward, you’ll need to switch your focus a bit. SHRM says that employees are granted 90 days to prove him or herself capable of a new job, on average. Frankly, that’s not a lot of time, especially when many employees are scrambling to understand their new roles in the first place (hence the $37 billion in lost productivity).
Don’t hang your new hires up to dry after their first couple of weeks. Instead, schedule some one-on-one time with them and their managers, supervisors, or mentors to see how it’s going. It’s important to know the right questions to ask new employees after their first few months. That way, you can provide one another with constructive feedback that will bolster productivity and engagement in the long run.
Again, how you’ll approach further onboarding after an employee’s first few weeks is unique to your company. But as a general guide, we love these tips from Inc.com: How to Make an Employee's First 90 Days Successful. The article advises setting benchmarks for regular check-ins with your employees, after 15, 30, 45, and 90 days, and so on. Add these dates to your calendar ahead of time to make sure you won’t forget.
If your company is looking to plan a new hire orientation and onboarding program, our advice is a great framework from which to start. Along the way, you might find that your company’s onboarding program requires solutions that are more personalized to the unique challenges and needs of your workplace. If that’s the case, be sure to reach out to an engagement agency that has practice in the field of onboarding.