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An Effective New Employee Orientation Program Helps You Retain Good Employees

New Employee Orientation Checklist

Use this new employee orientation checklist to build effectiveness into your new hire program.

We invest a lot of energy to hire talented people for our business; we need to put as much effort into training them and into aligning job descriptions with employee performance evaluations, and providing orientations for new employees.

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Employee orientation is an important aspect to welcoming, integrating and retaining newly hired employees.

By developing and using an effective orientation program, new employees develop a positive impression of your business; and also more quickly learn the policies and practices of your business.

Developing an orientation plan and program increases the opportunity for your new employee to succeed and get a good start in your business.

Additionally, your new employees adapt more easily to the culture and the working environment if you provide the guidelines by orienting them effectively and early in their employment experience.

Goals for Your Employee Orientation Program

A Sample New Employee Orientation Program

  • To create awareness and understanding of the business' culture, vision statement, mission and objectives.
  • To help the new employee understand their role in, and contribution to, the business; to do this they need to fully understand their job function (through clearly defined position descriptions) and the interdependence with other functions within the business.
  • To help the new employee achieve the objectives for the position.
  • To help the new employee learn quickly.
  • To ensure the new employee understands the safety policies, the quality commitment, the environmental goals, the organizational structure, the business policies and practices, the customers, and the overall business and social culture.

New Employee Orientation Checklist:

Before the New Employee Arrives:

Once you and your new employee have determined a start day, communicate that information to the rest of your organization:

  • When the new employee will be starting;
  • What the new employee is being hired to do; the job position;
  • Ask your employees to welcome the new employee, particularly in the early days.

Prepare a New Employee Orientation Package:

  • If you haven't already done so, ensure you have an employee contract for your new employee to review, discuss and sign (ensure the terms of employment, including employee compensation, benefits, vacation and probation period, are defined).
  • Prepare an employee training development outline for the new employee (or if your new employee reports to someone else, have that individual prepare the outline and discover the most appropriate employee training methods; matching the methods to the individual learning style). This is to ensure that the new employee gets fully trained on all aspects of the job. Include this training plan in the package so that the new employee also knows what training to expect.
  • Include a copy of the job description and the performance expectations or job performance standards.
  • Include a copy of the company's policies and practices (usually part of the employee handbook); including health and safety, quality, environmental, security, accounting, privacy policies and much more.
  • Include a copy of the company's benefits, including when the new employee will qualify and the costs, if any.
  • Include a copy of your organization chart (if only a few employees, this is usually not necessary but make sure that your new employee understands who everyone is and what everyone does).
  • Define where the employee will sit, work, park, etc. Does the employee need to get an identification pass, a key, a locker, or is there anything else they need to know?

Ensure that your new employee understands who to report to and who to ask if they need to know something. At the end of the first week, set up a brief meeting or coffee session and ensure that your new employee is comfortable in the environment, knows what is expected, and is 'fitting in'. If yes, good. If no, work on solving the fit issues and update your new employee orientation program.

For most business owners or managers, this orientation process sounds like a lot of work and time. It is. But the benefit is that you will enable your new hires to be more successful and stay longer. Consider this time spent as an investment in your business' most important resource - your people!

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Increasing New Employee Success

New employees have a better opportunity for success when you provide a strong orientation for them on day one.

But follow up on that orientation, make sure that they understand what's expected of them and that they have the training and the support to do well.

During the first week, set aside some time each day to check in with them and debrief; listen closely to what they have to say and see if they highlight areas of business or process improvement: sometimes new employees see things that existing staff just don't see anymore.

Be sure to communicate progress and expected results regularly. Provide a written summary performance review after the first month - not at the end of the probationary period - by then it may be too late. Make sure the summary provides both the good results and the areas for improvement - with feedback on how that improvement can be achieved.

Communicate the organization's plan for the future and how the employees contribute to those plans and mission.

Make sure that the culture of your organization is one that attracts the type of people you want working for you. Assess your environment objectively - or hire someone to come in and do an employee survey or assessment for you.

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Performance Evaluation Best Practices

Provide feedback regularly and consistently (and frequently for new employees or those that appear to be struggling).

Recognize good work openly and in front of other.

Consider poor performance as an area for improvement: focus on only one or two improvement areas at a time.

Provide employees with the opportunity for input into their evaluations - this should not be a one-way communication effort, rather it needs to be a two-way effort.

If there are action items that come out of the performance evaluation, and typically there need to be some goals or actions in each evaluation, then follow up - do not wait for a year to go by to check in.