January 18, 2012
What Should HR Include in New Hire Orientation?

New-hire orientation is the first step toward employee retention. A formal and well-developed new employee orientation program not only impacts the new hire but also the organization as a whole – both directly in terms of productivity, employee referrals, and retention, and indirectly, as far as employee satisfaction, culture, and safety. These can provide significant return on investment and contribute to both dollars gained and dollars saved.

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In a BLR webinar titled "On-Boarding for the Long Term: How to Make the New Employee Honeymoon Last," Martin Taylor and Lisa Dominisse of the Human Capital Initiative outlined the purpose of new hire orientation and some suggestions of what to include.

"According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, workplace turnover is expected to increase over the next 5 years to levels many companies have never experienced." Taylor noted. "This makes it even more important to select the right people for the right positions, and keep them engaged so they stay with your organization for the long haul."

Purpose of New-Hire Orientation

Starting a new job can be an exciting and sometimes nerve-wracking experience, filled with questions and uncertainties of about how things are done in the new organization. Simple questions such as "when do I get paid?" and "where is the break room?" can be addressed in new-hire orientation. This is the time to introduce the new employee to the organization’s mission, vision, culture, policies, benefits and, sometimes, even the company’s executive team.

New-Hire Orientation Suggestions

In the webinar, Dominisse advised: "the purpose of new-hire orientation is to introduce the employee to the organization’s mission, its vision, its culture, policies, benefits, and – if possible – your leadership team." While new-hire orientation is going to be different for every organization, Dominisse outlined some essential elements of corporate new-hire orientation sessions:

  • The suggested length of this program is a ½-day to ¾-day session with a mid-morning break and/or a lunch break. Encourage questions throughout the day.
  • Have someone from your executive team, such as the CEO or COO, or your HR staff, do a brief 5-minute welcome speech.
  • Have participants introduce themselves to group.
  • Next, begin your cultural integration, including your company history, vision statement, mission statement, company values, code of ethics, and organizational chart.
  • Include the value proposition for employees, including payroll information (presented by the payroll manager), statutory benefits (legally-provided or mandated benefits are those required by federal and state laws), and voluntary benefits (presented by the benefits manager).
  • Company expectations should also be discussed. Have a discussion of some key policies and procedures. Distribute your employee handbooks and have employees sign acknowledgement of receipt. For example, you might discuss your attendance policy; PTO/holiday/leave policy; anti-harassment policy; complaint procedure policy; health, safety and security policies; flextime and telecommuting policy; and your performance management policy.
  • Finally, explain how and when employees should access departments such as Building and Administrative Services or Information Technology.

For more information on new hire orientation, order the webinar recording. To register for a future webinar, visit http://catalog.blr.com/audio.

Martin Taylor is Senior Partner and VP HR Services for the Human Capital Initiative (HCI). (www.HumanCapitalInitiative.com) He provides HCI’s clients with Fortune 50 insights and expertise from his 30-year career.

Lisa Dominisse is a Senior Partner at the Human Capital Initiative, serving as a coach and a consultant to help achieve "people powered solutions." Ms. Dominisse has a wealth of executive experience in business and government, and along the way has helped many entities and individuals find success.

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