How to Conduct New Employee Orientation in 5 Quick Steps (+ Free Checklist)
This article is part of a larger series on Hiring.
New employee orientation is the first official experience new hires have with their employers after joining the team. It should offer a good introduction to the company’s culture and the employee’s job duties, provide an opportunity to complete any required paperwork, and include presentations, training sessions, and access to the tools needed for success.
We recommend using a checklist to ensure you provide the best experience possible. Download and modify our new hire orientation checklist, which includes all the basic new employee orientation tasks.
Step 1: Welcome & Introductions
Once you’ve completed the process of hiring employees they are ready to begin their first day on the job. Your top priority is to welcome them and schedule introductions with key team members.
During the welcome and introductions process, make it a priority to do the following:
- Schedule one-on-one meetings with the key staff members the new hire will work with
- Offer cheat sheets such as the company phone list, office map, or voicemail instructions
- Provide a list of who does what in their department as well as in HR or payroll in case they have questions
- Give them a copy of the organizational chart and explain how the company is structured
- Show them where labor law posters are located and offer to answer questions
- Provide a building tour so they know where to locate the conference rooms, copy machines, and emergency exits
- Describe the training they’ll receive, and when/where it will occur
- Make sure they know where to find user manuals, documents, and reference materials
- Have them shadow a peer, so they see what a day in the life of a co-worker looks like
- Ensure they have all the tools they need for their job: computer, software, VPN, badges, keys, website URLs, and IDs
- Advise them on the company-approved way for storing passwords (this should be in your handbook, but it’s good security practice to emphasize)
- Orient them to the company mission, vision, values, and strategic plan
- Ensure they understand their benefits and what they need to do to apply or qualify
- Schedule time with their supervisor to review their job description and answer questions
Learn more best practices for employee onboarding.
Step 2: New Hire Paperwork
New hire paperwork is essential for a new employee, but it can be overwhelming. Per a study by Sapling HR, new hires have an average of 41 tasks to complete during onboarding. Consider pacing the paperwork review throughout the first few days instead of handing the new hire a stack of documents and walking away, or give clear deadlines and automated reminders.
Review each item with the new hire so they clearly understand what is expected of them. Even if you do it through electronic channels, have explanations handy or a contact number where they can call with questions.
If more than one new hire starts on the same day, you can schedule time with them together to review important policies, like the employee handbook. Items that aren’t used right away, like an employee expense form, can be included in the paperwork but reviewed later.
Many HR software services make it easy to onboard paperwork completely online through their system, with e-signatures and storage. This works for on-site or remote employees. It is more convenient for both you and the employee, who may be able to complete some of the paperwork before their first day or as they are starting on their daily tasks in the first week.
Read our reviews to find the best onboarding software or the leading HR software, which usually includes onboarding tools.
Step 3: Orientation Video
We recommend that you provide an orientation video (or a one-on-one with HR) that highlights your company’s history and culture and the benefits offered to new employees. Check out the one our in-house HR team recorded if you need a video example to follow:
When using onboarding software, you can add viewing the orientation video as part of the checklist. Some software makes it easy to track completed assignments and sends reminders if a task is not met.
Things to include in the orientation video or one-on-one session are:
- Company History: Assume that your new employee knows nothing about your company. Including a document (or PowerPoint presentation) that shares the entire history of the company helps endear the new hire to their new employer.
- Company Culture: Company culture encompasses all the many values and behaviors of the company, its employees, and its brand. Taking the time to explain the company’s culture thoroughly helps the new team member become more grounded in how their role fits into the larger picture.
- Mission, Vision, and Values: As part of the company culture, new employees need to know and understand the company’s mission, vision, and values. The mission statement is the organization’s charter and reason for being.
- Company Benefits: Although this is part of the welcome materials, company benefits should be highlighted during the orientation video as well. This will also be the time for the new employee to ask questions related to their benefits.
- Company Policies: These should also be in writing and in the employee handbook, but you should provide a quick overview of the main company policies, such as work hours, availability, and safety rules.
Conducting orientations for multiple new hires at once saves you time and gives new hires the opportunity to connect with people like them who are new to the company. Follow a structured format that works for all positions (you can always set up separate mini-sessions for specific training).
Step 4: Training Sessions
Once your new hire has been welcomed and filled out all necessary paperwork, offer training sessions to orient them to their new company and position. These sessions can be mapped out using an Excel spreadsheet or included in the onboarding checklist from your HR software and can be either in person or via informative videos, online classes, or documents with quizzes.
Things to include in your training sessions:
- “How to” videos describing the software used at your company—QuickBooks, Salesforce, timeclock entries, etc.
- Non-discrimination and sexual harassment training videos
- Job-specific training videos
- One-on-one meetings with all department heads to learn how their work contributes as a whole to the company
Space out orientation and training sessions throughout the week or longer so as not to overwhelm your new hire with too much information on the first day. They need time to absorb the information given and apply it to their new role. Providing these as online services lets employees work at their own pace, but be sure to set deadlines.
Step 5: Acclimation to New Position
An important step in orientation is giving your new hire the time needed to acclimate themselves to the new role—this could mean job shadowing, time to digest the tools and software needed for their role, or simply time spent completing the tasks of the job.
Consider a training session with someone in their department who will most closely do the work they were hired to accomplish. This can help the new employee feel acclimated to the position and learn how to best do their job. Also, be sure their supervisor plans times over the next few weeks to check in and see how they are progressing. These can be formal meetings or a simple touch-base at the employee’s desk or via chat.
We recommend waiting until Day Two before having the employee start training for their actual job. This will give them time to digest the company culture and complete all necessary new hire paperwork.
Orientation for Remote Employees
Orientation for remote employees, while similar to in-house, is specific to a virtual environment. All welcomes, new hire paperwork, orientation presentations, and training must be done online.
Some best practices include:
- Schedule an all-company virtual meeting to introduce the new hire to the rest of the team. This can be done during a normal full company meeting or separately on the day of hire.
- Send new hire paperwork before the first day. This can ensure that the paperwork is completed in a timely manner and the new hire does not have to spend their entire first day completing documents. Be sure to have a procedure in place for completing the I-9 paperwork. Documents must be reviewed in person by an authorized representative (such as a notary public).
- Host your orientation video online. If the orientation is “in person” consider using a video service, such as Zoom, to host your online orientation. The remote employees can meet with the in-house employees virtually while you conduct the orientation session. If your orientation is a video, simply house the video online and provide a link for the new hire to view. However, let the employee know how to reach you if they have questions after watching.
- Training sessions, like the orientation video, will be virtual. Be sure to discuss the sessions with your new hire after they have viewed the training in case they have any questions. Consider adding quizzes to ensure comprehension as needed.
- Check in with your new hire virtually on a daily basis for the first few days to ensure they understand their work and are settling into their new role. Then, be sure to touch base intermittently over the next few weeks.
New Employee Orientation Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
New employee orientation is more than filling out paperwork. While good onboarding will make sure the employee has their needed paperwork done, a true orientation program focuses on getting an employee acclimated to their new job’s duties, environment, and expectations, along with providing direction and motivation so they become a productive team member.
With a strong orientation program, you get more loyal and engaged employees. For example, a study by Zippia found that employees who had a positive and powerful onboarding experience were 69% more likely to remain with a company for three or more years.
Even more, 23% of employees who quit within six months said that clear guidelines on their responsibilities would have helped them stay at the job. A great orientation program makes sure that employees know what to do and how to do it, which leads not only to better productivity earlier but greater retention later.
According to Zippia, the average orientation takes a day to a week. It can take longer, however, depending on the company and role.
Nothing beats face-to-face experience, but in this post-COVID-19 world, in-person orientation isn’t always possible. For many tasks, like paperwork and even training, it’s not needed. If you are looking to cut the time and manpower spent on orientation, consider automating some of the process with online documents, training videos, and other automated features.
However, do not automate everything. A new employee should be able to meet HR, their manager, and even their teammates “in person,” even if that means through Zoom or a phone call.
Yes! Onboarding is a vital part of the job. According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) guidelines, the only time you don’t pay an employee for onboarding is if it meets all four criteria:
- It’s outside business hours
- The employee can decline to attend with no penalty
- It’s not work-related
- No work is being done
So, for example, if you have a voluntary monthly meet-and-greet after hours at a local pub, you can encourage new hires to attend, but do not need to pay them for attending. Online courses for the job that they can watch at home, however, must be paid for, as these are work-related.
Employees are an asset to your company if they’re able to perform the job you’ve hired them for. To ensure that, make sure your new hires get off to a good start with a comprehensive orientation process. Our new hire orientation checklist does more than make sure you manage all the new hire paperwork. If used, it will help reduce turnover, engage your new hires, and reduce the time it takes for your new employees to be productive.
Keep in mind that orientation is just one part of the full employee onboarding process and helps the employee acclimate to their new environment.