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Orienting New Employees

Filed under Managing the Workplace. Fact checked on May 24, 2012.

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After you've made a hire, you'll want to introduce your new employee to your company through the orientation process. The orientation process can be split up into tasks for before the employee starts, the employee's first day and the employee's first week.

Once you hire an employee and take care of the numerous paperwork requirements, you should take the time to introduce your new employee to the business in general, to direct managers or supervisors and co-workers where applicable, and to the responsibilities of the position. This is known as the orientation process.

Whatever form it takes, an orientation session serves several purposes:

  • It gets the new worker started on productive activity.
  • It ensures that new employees get accurate information. Coworkers do not always give the right answers, for whatever reasons.
  • It gives you the chance to develop good work habits in your new employee.
  • It can help the newcomer feel welcome, relieve anxiety, and start the person toward being a loyal, productive member of your business.

What should an orientation cover? While every business and job position is different, these general guidelines will assist you in arranging the orientation:

  • a review of the job description with the new employee, so he or she knows what the specific duties will be (although the employee should have a general idea from the interview)
  • some discussion of what your business does and your business goals
  • how the employee's job fits into the overall picture
  • basic work rules
  • compensation and benefits
  • a tour of the workplace

Various parts of the orientation should take place at different times; before the employee starts, during the first day, and during the first week.

Before the Employee Arrives

Before the employee arrives, you'll want to prepare a packet for the employee that contains all the necessary information that the employee will need, including:

  • necessary forms, like the W-4 and the I-9
  • any written policies or work rules, including a handbook
  • any benefits information, including pamphlets or booklets from the insurance companies, materials that compare and explain specific coverage levels and benefits, and any enrollment and beneficiary designation forms
  • information that explains the pay schedule, deductions from pay, availability of sick leave and vacation time
  • any marketing materials or product descriptions that can give your new employee insight into your business

On the Employee's First Day

When the employee arrives on the first day of work, some of the first things to do are:

  • Show the employee where his or her work area will be.
  • Show the employee where he or she can store personal effects safely, if not at a desk.
  • Give the employee a tour of your workplace, pointing out the restrooms, break room, supply room or area, and first aid kit.
  • Introduce the employee to any other employees or workers.
Work Smart

Business owners are busy people, so to free up your time, you might want to designate one of your trusted employees to be the go-to person if the new employee has any questions, particularly ones that are not critical.

At some point in the first few hours that the employee is at work, you should:

  • Process any employment forms.
  • Give the employee the information that you have gathered and explain each piece of material.
  • Tell the employee that you are available for questions after the employee has reviewed the material.
  • Arrange for lunch (if you like) with the employee and any other coworkers.

In the First Week

An important part of bringing an employee into your business smoothly is making sure that he or she isn't overwhelmed with information on the first day. There are things that can wait and that don't need to happen on the first day, but which should happen sooner rather than later, including:

  • arranging for any training that is needed
  • ensuring that you cover the following:
    • job description
    • performance expectations
    • schedules
    • recording work time
    • equipment and materials
  • asking the new employee at the end of the week if any questions or problems have arisen and deal with any concerns raised

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