The definitive guide to new employee orientation
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The definitive guide to new employee orientation

There are a lot of new faces at work. You know this means that the company is growing – which is a good thing. But you also know that you’ll need to train all of these new employees – which is a scary thing. Because new employee orientation has such a big impact on staff loyalty and productivity.

You read that 69% of employees are more likely to stay with a company for at least three years after a great onboarding experience. And that it can take anywhere between 8 months and 2 years for a new employee to reach full productivity, depending on their orientation. So you’d really like to follow all of the best practices for creating an effective new hire orientation.

If this sounds like you, then you’ve come to the right place. What will follow in this guide is everything you need to know about planning and streamlining your new hire orientation process. From this menu, you can jump to the section you need.

  1. What is new employee orientation?
  2. The difference between orientation and onboarding
  3.  How to plan your new employee orientation
    3.1 What to include in new employee orientation
    3.2 Roles and responsibilities in employee orientation
  4. How to streamline your new-hire process flow
    4.1 Make a new employee orientation checklist
    4.2 Use a Learning Management System
    4.3 Set consistent standards (and ask for feedback)


Chapter 1: What is new employee orientation?

By orientation training for new employees, we mean the process of introducing new hires to their job tasks, company processes and teams. But it’s also the beginning of a relationship between the employee and their employer. And like any relationship, a shaky start usually leads to an imminent end.

How important is new employee orientation?

Picture this: every new employee receives a slick, pre-printed welcome pack on their first day. A knowledgeable and friendly mentor eases them into their new work environment, and gives them a guided tour of the office. Then, in their own time, employees work through the company’s online orientation course to learn more about the corporate culture and their job responsibilities. Finally, they head out to lunch with their new team.

Now picture this: new hires are greeted by an unfamiliar face at reception, and directed to their silo with a hundred-page employee handbook safely tucked under their arm. After they’ve figured out (quite single-handedly) how to sign into their email, they find instructions from their new boss (whom, by the way, they haven’t seen since the final interview) and get started on their job.

It’s easy to see which of these scenarios would leave the new employee feeling more bewildered, overwhelmed and alone. And employees who feel this way are unlikely to feel loyal to the company. More so, without thorough training about the job and company, new hires are likely to take months to reach full productivity in their roles.

When a company’s orientation is more like the second scenario than the first, it’s usually a simple misunderstanding about the purpose of new hire orientation.

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What is the purpose of new employee orientation?

Many companies view orientation as an administrative process, where employees become familiar with the rules, sign their contracts and get to work. But there’s more to it. The real purpose of orientation is to mentally and emotionally integrate employees into the organization, and equip them with the skills, tools, and support they need to reach their potential.

Because with every new hire who joins your company, it’s important to assume that they want to make a meaningful contribution, that they’d like to feel loyal to their team, and that you should give them all the resources they need to succeed. If these assumptions are difficult to make, the chances are that you’ve made some mistakes in the hiring process.

How long should new employee orientation last?

While 38% of companies’ orientation programs last just one week, research has found that the socialization process can take up to a year. This is probably why over 40% of companies dedicate between one week and one year to helping new hires succeed.

So, when orienting and training new employees, a good rule of thumb to follow is: don’t rush the process. Give new hires the time they need to learn the ropes of the job, but also to become happy and engaged members of your work family.

Chapter 2: What’s the difference between orientation and onboarding?

Before we discuss the topics to include in your orientation plan for new employees, we need to make the distinction between orientation and onboarding.

The terms ‘orientation’ and ‘onboarding’ are often used interchangeably, but really, they’re two separate concepts. And you need both.

You can think of orientation as a first date: it’s a one-off event that gives you just enough information to decide whether you might like the person or not. Similarly, orientation is an event that lasts just a few hours or a few days. Its purpose is to introduce new employees to the company, their team, and, of course, their job.

On the other hand, onboarding is like dating. Lasting between 90 days and one full year, onboarding includes training and on-the-job experiences that give employees deeper insights into the company and job. They’ll form bonds with their team members, integrate into the company culture, start having ideas and suggestions, and discover ways, not just to perform their jobs, but to improve their performance.

Chapter 3: Planning your new staff orientation program

Now that we understand the purpose of induction training, this next chapter will explore how to make new hire orientation fun and engaging. As with most things, it all starts with a plan!

What to include in new employee orientation

Deciding what to include in your orientation program might seem like an impossible task. There’s so much to learn about the job and the company, and so many people for them to meet. Where do you begin?

Remember that new employees will have 90 days or more to become familiar with tasks, people and processes during their onboarding. For orientation, though, try to stick to these important topics.

Paperwork and new hire information

Paperwork might not be the most exciting part of orientation, but it is necessary. From company rules and policies to tax forms, employees need to know the boundaries and expectations of their job and workspace. Make sure to include documents such as signed offer of employment, employee handbook, etc.

To make the paperwork quick and convenient, make these documents accessible on your LMS for employees to read and sign. Then, if they ever want to return to these documents, they can locate them in the same place.

Welcome and introductions

A warm welcome goes a long way toward making employees feel like part of the team, especially when it comes from more than one person. All it takes is a small effort from a few people.

To make them feel appreciated, send new hires a signed welcome letter from the CEO. Next, ask their manager to take them on a guided office tour, and to show them where the important meeting rooms, bathrooms, and cafeteria are located. Then, to properly introduce them to their team, organize a lunch. This way, new hires can get to know their colleagues in a fun and neutral setting.

Finally, you’ll want to give employees a welcome pack with a few gifts, like branded stationary and a company t-shirt, to let them know how excited you are to have them on the team. Be sure to also include an orientation schedule for new employees to get a clear picture of upcoming activities.

Office access

There aren’t many things worse than arriving at a new job on time, only to find that you can’t get into the building, or park your car. So, to avoid uncomfortable situations like this, organize parking, access cards and an office map for new employees on their very first day of work.

Hardware and software

In order to be a productive member of the team, it’s likely that your new employees will need to use tools for communication, project management, time tracking, human resource processes, and possibly even to do their jobs. For example, a digital copywriter might need to learn how to use the company’s SEO tool in order to write high-traffic articles.

Create an online course that shows new hires the ins and outs of the software they’ll be using. This way, each new employee can learn in their own time, and at their own pace. Don’t forget to show them how to use the physical tools, too, like printers and phones. These are equally important.

Induction training

Start planning induction training for new employees to learn the skills and knowledge that will make them successful in their work. This could include job-specific technical training, safety training, or soft skills training to align employees with the company’s values. Don’t leave this too late. Rather, make sure that employees are aware of upcoming training from Day 1 on the job.

Roles and responsibilities in employee orientation

Orientation might sound like a job for Human Resources. But, in reality, it’s a team effort. When all of the following roles work together, new employees are likely to have the best orientation experience.


The HR department plays one of the most important roles, because it decides on the orientation program outline for new hires. Often, HR also organizes the training rooms, the welcome pack and desk setup, and ensures that new hires have access to the company LMS for onboarding training.

Team manager

The second most important role falls to the employee’s new manager. As the leader of the team, and someone who will interact frequently with the employee, the manager is best placed to make their new team members feel welcome and comfortable. In fact, 20% of new hires worry more about their supervisor’s expectations than their actual jobs. So managers need to set clear goals for new employees during orientation, too.


There are very few companies left in the world that do not use technology for working, learning and reporting. So it’s likely that your new employees will need to become familiar with the company’s software applications and LMS. The technical team will play an important role in guiding and supporting new staff as they navigate these technologies.

New employee

This might come as a surprise, but new employees should take responsibility for their orientation experience, too. By fully engaging in their onboarding training, they’ll learn how to perform their jobs well. Through interactions with their team members they’ll feel as though they belong. And by asking questions when they’re stuck, new hires will become comfortable with company systems and processes.

Chapter 4: How to streamline your new-hire process flow

Knowing the most important topics to include in your orientation program is a good start. Still, even with the most creative ideas and fun activities, your new employee orientation will only be successful if it runs smoothly for all involved.

Here are our top tips for creating a seamless orientation experience.

Make a new employee orientation checklist

After reading this new staff orientation guide, you’ll understand exactly what, when and how new hires learn during their first couple of days on the job. The trouble is, you’re not the only person involved in the orientation program. You’ll need to rely on managers, IT and other employees across the company to deliver a positive experience.

So, to ensure that all employees receive the great orientation you planned for them, create a checklist of all the activities that new hires need to complete, and who is responsible for each. We have created one for you, which you can download and try out:

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By using a checklist, it’s easy to track an employee’s progress through orientation, and to spot any orientation tasks that haven’t been completed.

Use a Learning Management System

Orientation is notoriously fraught with documents and administration. But fortunately, technological advances have made it easier than ever to improve the orientation process. Rather than overwhelming new hires with a sky-high stack of HR forms and contracts, employees can read, sign and submit everything on the learning management system (LMS).

A learning management system is also perfect for delivering and tracking onboarding training, especially as the number of new hires grows. Use your LMS to encourage your new employees to learn faster by playing games, taking quizzes, and earning reward points when you utilize gamification features.

Set consistent standards

Orientation should be consistent throughout the company, which means that every person involved in orienting employees should understand the importance and expectations of their role.

Explain the purpose of orientation to managers, IT staff and team members of the new employee. Then, to make sure that they carry out all of their orientation responsibilities, have them complete an orientation checklist.

Ask for feedback

Delivering high quality and consistent orientation to all new hires can be tricky, especially as the number of people involved in the orientation process increases. So, the best way to know whether employees find orientation useful is to simply ask them.

Collect feedback from new hires during and after the orientation program. If particular orientation activities are rated poorly, discuss strategies for improvement with the person responsible for those activities. After all, your staff turnover rates and performance could depend on it.

Over to you

We hope that you’ve found all of the best practices for new employee orientation you were looking for in this guide. If you’d like some help getting started, we’ve included an employee orientation checklist template. Let us know how your orientation goes.

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