New Hire Orientation

New hire orientation is a vital first step in any new employee’s company journey. Although HR staff will conduct orientations regularly, it’s still easy to get certain things wrong.

In this article we’ll look at what exactly is meant by new hire orientation, why it’s so important, and some of the most common mistakes made by both companies and employees during new hire orientation. We’ll also include some tips for best practice too.

In the article we’ll be covering:

What is new hire orientation?

Simply put, new hire orientation is the process of getting new employees acquainted with both the company and their role. Unlike onboarding, which begins once the employee accepts the position, new hire orientation is generally the first few days of actual employment.

What are the new hire orientation process steps?

The process will generally include:

• Explaining the company’s processes

• Making the employee aware of company policy and expectations

• Helping them to become familiar with their new role

• Allow them to meet colleagues and management

• Finalize any necessary paperwork

• New employees should be able to ask any questions or address any concerns they might have

New hire orientation can be quite a daunting process for the new employee, so it’s important for the process to be fun and engaging while remaining professional. We’ll discuss some tips for this in more detail below.

Why is new hire orientation important?

Although this might seem like an obvious question, it’s worth addressing just why new hire orientation is important for both the employee and the company.

More than anything, a dedicated orientation session on the employee’s first few days marks an official start of their time with the company. Making this process fun also helps to produce a positive image of the company that the employee will remember moving forwards.

Establishing the company’s expectations at the beginning helps to get the employee off on the right foot. If they understand their role and position within the company, they can start being productive straight away. While it might take some time for them to completely understand the role, clarity from the beginning is the first important step.

Finally, the process can lower employee turnover because of misunderstandings. If everyone starts with the same knowledge about their role then there won’t be any confusion once they get going.

How to make new hire orientation fun

It’s hardly surprising that new hire orientation can be a daunting process for the employee. Therefore, it’s a good idea to make it as fun as possible. There are a couple of ways you can do this.

  • The first is to play some icebreaking games. If you base these around quizzes or pairing people off, then it can also help employees to get to know each other.

  • You could also arrange a coffee morning with management. As they’re often viewed as faceless figures, having them bring in coffee and cakes for a chat with the new hires is perfect for creating a friendly atmosphere.

  • Finally, follow this up by arranging something for their lunch break. For example, you could arrange for them to all sit together during lunch, or take them out somewhere. This doesn’t have to cost money, but can be a great way of building early relationships between new starters.

What to include in new hire orientation

The new hire orientation process could last a week or more, but it’s important to have all of your tools and materials prepared in advance. Here are some of the key things to bring to a new hire orientation:

• ID badges. New hires will realistically need these on their first day.

• Paperwork. Get this out of the way early so people can feel more relaxed.

• A welcome pack. This can include maps, branded products, or whatever else you want it to.

• Training tools. These might include speeches, presentations, quizzes, and more.

• Details on company-specific computing tools. Your new employees will need to become familiar with their working tools, so set up training for them.

• Games and icebreakers. New hire orientation shouldn’t be about cramming them with information. Bring some games to lighten the mood and break the ice.

10 things companies get wrong with new hire orientation

So now we’ve covered what the process is lets delive into some of the mistakes that companies make with thier process and look at how these can be used as improvement ideas:

Issue Action
They give too much information too quickly – this can be very overwhelming with new starters not really knowing where to start. Look to provide information gradually, understanding that some things may be unfamiliar and will take time to absorb.
They don’t explain company expectations straight away. Ensure that you discuss this early on in the process. Have material that is easily digestible that clearly articulates expectations (which can be far reaching from hours worked through to dress code etc) 
Companies often expect orientation to be quicker than it is, leading employees to feel rushed. Ensure that you have time for feedback and ecnourage new starters to ask questions where they are unsure.
They don’t make it fun enough Orientation should be as much about spending time with colleagues as it should be about reading pamphlets.
Companies often don’t explain software with enough clarity and assume a greater level of knowledge. Where the new starter will be utilizing software ensure that there is established trianing allcoated and that the training is tailored to the role they will be undertaking.
They don’t allow for sufficient breathing room between activities. Ensure that your timetable is appropriate and not rushed.
Companies often leave orientation up to HR when it’s a company-wide process. Ensure that your orientation process utilizes a broad breadth of staff from team mates to management and subject matter experts where appropriate.
Just as orientation can be too short, it can also take too long, leading to employees feeling stagnant. Ensure the orientation timetable is appropriate.
Many companies don’t set their orientation process apart from anyone else’s, leading to them feeling bland. Look at your material from the new employees perspective. Look to drive engagement and participation rather than for it just to be read (and potentially forgotten!)
Companies often set their expectations too high too soon. Have appropriate expectations and don’t be afraid of offering refresher training where appropriate.

10 things new employees get wrong during new hire orientation

The other side of the coin is what employees can get wrong during the process let’s take a look at those:

• They simply don’t pay attention.

• Many behave differently during orientation believing it to be separate from their “real” job.

• Some employees expect to be walked through the process; this isn’t what training is about.

• Conversely, many are afraid to ask for help, although this is the point at which it’s given.

• They spend too much time focusing on the social element rather than the work.

• They quickly forget key role expectations or daily schedules.

• While some focus too much on socializing, others completely ignore it.

• Many think the company expects them to fall straight into their new role with no adjustment.

• They might ask problematic questions, such as whether they get paid for orientation.

• Many overlook the importance of the orientation process.

The key to minimizing these is to set the expectations for orientation at the start of the process, explain:

  • What it is
  • Why they are doing it
  • Why it is important
  • How it will be followed up
  • What to do if they have questions


New hire orientation is an important process no matter the size of your organization or number of new employees. Done properly, it can help to reduce stress relating to a new role, and improve employee retention. In short, a company should focus a large portion of their efforts on a properly planned new hire orientation process.

As ever if you have some feedback we’d love to hear from you. You can reach us on Twitter or you can use the comments section below.

This article is part of our Human Resources Guide