Dos and Don’ts for New-Hire Orientation

Improve results and develop a corporate culture to rave about

Whether you are a large organization that stages mass orientations or a small company who adds new personnel only once in a while, establishing great introductory procedures is critical for retention, morale, and productivity.  This list of Dos and Don’ts will help managers improve results and establish a corporate culture people will rave about.


Do have an onboarding and orientation plan prepared.  Don’t wing it.

You never have a second chance to make a good first impression.

Make sure all necessary paperwork is in order.  Have passwords, telecom equipment, computers, and any necessary building access codes set up prior to arrival.  Want to impress them?  Have their personal business cards ready and waiting on the desk.

Prepare a packet of information containing instructions for setting up voice mail, email and mobile devices.  Include an organizational chart, a list of department member names and phone numbers, printed marketing materials, and even a copy of the annual report that includes the mission statement, office locations and operating statements.

Do separate onboarding and orientation.  Don’t assume they are the same thing.

Orientation is teaching the new-hire about the company, its employment policies, benefits and management structure; the necessary HR information they need to fully understand their employment.

Onboarding introduces them to your company’s brand, culture, and work environment.  It sets the tone for what’s expected of them and how they will interact within in the environment.

Orientation takes a couple of hours to convey, while onboarding takes months to learn.

Do announce the arrival before the first day.  Don’t assume everyone knows you’ve filled your job vacancy.

Send a communication to members of the department, key stakeholders and security staff .  Let them know someone new is joining the team.  Give them the 411:  who they are, what they’ll do, and when they’ll arrive.



Do take responsibility of the onboarding process.  Don’t behave as if orienting new-hires is an inconvenience.

At some point everyone is the “new kid”.  Remember what that’s like?  To ensure they feel they belong, be welcoming.  If your schedule is full, take responsibility for the most important tasks and delegate the rest to someone else.

In addition to making yourself available for the new team member, you may want to identify someone on the team to help answer day-to-day questions for the first few weeks.

Do have an agenda and schedule prepared.  Don’t believe onboarding ends after the first day.

Take a tour of the facility.  Begin by showing them their work space.  Make sure it’s clean and stocked with supplies.  Establish a timeline and notify other individuals when they can expect to meet the new colleague.

Break up the day into digestible chunks:  orientation, desk time, walking tours, and team meetings.  Keep things interactive and interesting.  Don’t provide tutorials without giving an opportunity to ask questions.  This practice brings them up to speed quickly and identifies areas in which they may need further coaching.

Set up a lunch date right away with members of the team.

Have an assignment ready to go from day one.  Everyone wants to feel like they can contribute.

Spread the onboarding process out over the first week, allowing them to go home and digest the information they are learning for the first time.

Do talk about corporate culture.  Don’t miss the opportunity to build a brand loyal employee.

Building a corporate brand begins from the inside.  If your company is focused on service, make sure internal service emulates that which you provide to your customer.  Never speak negatively about anyone, or what you view to be the company’s shortcomings.

Build brand allegiance by giving them a logoed coffee cup or pen to use.  Also outline your company’s social media policies.  If your organization permits, give them the links to the company Twitter feed, Facebook page, and other channels.  It builds internal networking and expands your brand externally.



Do follow up regularly for the first few months.  Don’t leave them high and dry after the first day.

The learning curve is the steepest in the first week.  It usually takes six months for the average person to reach their stride within a new organization.

Set up check-in meetings in advance.  It will give the new employee an opportunity to express their concerns and ask questions.

Share points about your managerial style.  Set expectations on how you like to receive communications or project proposals.   Do you expect weekly check-ins or just reports, prefer email vs. phone calls, or even I.M.?

Ignoring the importance of orientation and onboarding, like trying to cram in 24-hours-worth of training information into an eight hour day, will only serve to disorient the new-hire.  Don’t leave them with a bad impression and regrets.  Poor onboarding tells them:

  • The company is unprofessional, ergo – I don’t have to be professional
  • The company doesn’t care about its employees – so why should I care about its customers
  • I’m just a body in a chair – this is just a temporary job for me

Keep the “Dos” in mind and see improved retention, greater productivity, and higher morale.