Remember, first impressions are crucial. Here are some tips for putting your best foot forward.
- Begin before the new person does. Send an agenda to the new associate with the offer letter so the employee knows what to expect. Stay in touch after he or she has accepted the position to answer questions or help in other ways. Also, make sure the new person's work area is ready for the first day of work.
- Make sure everyone knows the employee is starting and encourage them to come to say hello before orientation begins.
- Assign a mentor or partner to show the new person around, make introductions, and start training. Let the mentor have sufficient notice so he or she can make preparations.
- Start with the basics. People become productive sooner if they are firmly grounded in the basic knowledge they need to understand their job. Focus on the why, when, where, and how of the position before expecting them to handle assignments or big projects. Don't overwhelm them with too much information.
- Provide samples on how to complete forms as well as the individual's job description with the orientation packet.
- Have some fun. Do not spend time on every aspect of the handbook, only on the very important topics. Play some games because this can help the learning process. Games such as:
a. Photo match after the tour. Each employee is provided photos of other employees and a list of names. The object is to match the name with the face.
b. Signature hunt. While employees are touring the facility, provide them with a piece of paper with names of several associates they will be meeting. They are then asked to obtain the signatures of the people they meet. The employee who obtains the most signatures, gets a prize.
- Provide a list of frequently asked questions with a contact person/department, and phone number or extension.
- Plan to take them to lunch. The first day on the job the new employee is left in the lurch. This is a good time for the manager/supervisor to take the employee to lunch; include other co-workers, making sure the employee is at ease.
- Give the new person some responsibility for his or her own orientation. Offer opportunities for self-directed learning, under appropriate supervision.
- Keep the new person's family in mind. A new job means adjustment for the entire family, especially if they have relocated. Do what you can to ease the transition and help them feel comfortable in the community.
- Ask for feedback. Find out from former new hires how they perceived the orientation process, and don't be afraid to make changes based on those recommendations. You can send an evaluation two to four weeks after the employee has started, saying something such as: Now that you have been with the company awhile, did the orientation meet your needs? After they have been working there awhile they find out what they should have known but did not. At Mecklenburg County, one of the trainers, Allyson Berbiglia says, "We recognize that we have to continuously improve orientation to meet the changing needs of our customers. What works now may not serve our employees well next month or next year."