New hire orientation is typically done on an employee’s first day of work and, in too many cases, it doesn’t leave a very positive impression. Your hiring manager meets your new hire at the door, offers some lukewarm coffee, and hands them a pile of paperwork to fill out. They input their name and social security number, the date, and signature on page after page of paperwork. This can take anywhere from an hour to a few hours, depending on whether or not they actually read everything they’re signing. They take an office tour, and are introduced to dozens of people along the way—many of whom they won’t remember 10 minutes later. They may sit down with their manager for a brief one-on-one before heading out to a team lunch, followed by an afternoon of learning about the company.
Each of these things is necessary—and important—to do, but the first big flaw with this program is that it doesn’t make for a very exciting first day.
Consider this: your new hire came from another role where they knew everybody, had a firm handle on their job, and were making an impact at their organization. As their end day neared, they may have had goodbye lunches and best wishes for their new opportunity. They left feeling on top of the world; ready to conquer their next adventure.
But upon beginning their first day, they’ve been reduced to paper pushing and classroom or video learning for the day. They’ve probably met a lot of people, but can’t remember most of their names, or what roles they’re in. They’re bored, feel alone, and wonder if they made the right decision to leave their prior company and join yours. It’s not uncommon for many of these people to leave after a bad first day, or to wish they had once they realize they’ve felt the same way for the past three months.
It’s certainly important for a new hire to get team introductions, learn where things are in the office, and learn about the company—but it’s information overload when done on the same day. And, if you don’t have a formal onboarding program, the information is likely never reinforced to your new hire. Some of it might stick, but the rest will probably never be thought about again.
So, the only thing that ultimately stands out about your new hire orientation is that it was boring, and a waste of valuable time. Is that what you want your employees to remember about their first day at your organization?
Innovative companies are offering online orientation prior to the first day. This allows the first day to be about meaningful introductions, early learning, and celebration. It also allows new hires to learn key information at a slower pace, so they retain more of it and can ask follow up questions on their first day. The key is to extend and integrate the employee onboarding process into the rest of your onboarding process, and reinforce key messages throughout the employee lifecycle.
Employee preboarding takes place between the time a new hire signs an offer letter, and actually arrives for their first day of work. Communicating and engaging with new hires during this transitional period helps them feel more connected to the organization, while also allowing them to complete some new hire tasks at their own pace. Here are some things you can do at this time:
An employee’s first day is a crucial time to make a positive, lasting impression. With some of the administrative, logistical stuff out of the way, the first day can be reserved for a warm welcome to the team, company culture, and environment:
While new hire orientation has traditionally been a one-time event on or near the employee’s first day, extending some aspects into the rest of the onboarding process can be useful. For instance:
Too many new hire orientation programs are employer-centric, focusing on administration and compliance, when they should be more candidate-centric, focusing on engagement. With 25 percent of the U.S. population experiencing some type of career transition each year, it has become increasingly important to engage, retain, and develop your talent. That begins with a strong new hire orientation program. You have exactly one chance to make a positive first impression—don’t waste it.