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New Employee Orientation:

Starting Off On The Right Foot

William H. Truesdell 1998, 2012 The Management Advantage, Inc.

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Remember your first day of school when you were just a youngster? It was a bit frightening, if you were like most kids. Lots of new people and a completely different environment. You weren't quite sure how you would be accepted.

New employees feel much the same way. They are coming into a new environment, meeting new people, and are not sure how they will be accepted. Employers can ease the transition and take advantage of the opportunity to get the relationship off to a good start.

Welcome your new employee. Smile, and tell them you are glad that they have come to work in your establishment. You can make a big difference at this point. Show them around the facility, pointing out any important features along the way like emergency exits and hazardous areas, for example. Pretend you are showing a guest through your home. You want to make them feel comfortable and for them to relax as much as possible. Introduce them to people you meet along the way. Chances are your new worker won't be able to remember everyone's name when they are through with your tour, but you will at least have given other people the chance to learn who the new person is. As you introduce your new employee, explain what job they will be assigned and who they will be reporting to. This will help existing employees mentally fit the new person into what they know of your organization.

Introduce your new employee to the supervisor they will be reporting to, if they haven't already met. Show them their work station and where to get any supplies they might need. Talk briefly about important contacts they will want to remember, such as the person responsible for ordering supplies, the payroll person and any others you feel are key to the operation.

Prepare a checklist of subjects which should be reviewed with each new employee and then set aside the appropriate amount of time so that can be done. Let everyone else know that you are not to be interrupted while you are orienting your new worker. You will want to convey to the new person that they are the most important item on your agenda at the moment.

Consider the following items for your New Employee Orientation Checklist:

  • Personnel file contents
  • Job application or resume
  • Interview summary
  • Reference check information
  • Verification of any licenses or certifications required on this person's job (driver's license, teaching credential, broker's license, etc.)
  • Complete necessary paperwork
  • ICE Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification
  • Employment agreement if you use them
  • Receipt for their copy of your employee handbook
  • W-4 Form for payroll withholding
  • Personal data sheet so you will have the information necessary on emergency contacts, home address and telephone number, social security number, etc.
  • Security or identification card information form
  • Benefit coverage election and beneficiary designation forms for your benefit programs which provide immediate eligibility for all employees.
  • Explain the following practices and procedures you use in your organization:
  • Hours of work and attendance/tardiness policy
  • Payroll periods, when paychecks are delivered and when first check will arrive
  • Rates of pay
  • Overtime rules
  • Training or introductory employment period
  • Employee benefits for which they are or may become eligible:
    • Medical insurance
    • Sick leave
    • Vacation
    • Personal leave, jury duty, holidays
    • Pension programs, savings programs and/or stock plans
    • Life, disability and accident insurance
    • Employee activities
    • Other benefits you offer and how much the employer will pay for each
  • Advancement or promotion opportunities and procedures
  • Employee suggestion plan
  • Parking arrangements
  • Union-related information if this person will be in a represented group
  • Provide copies to the new employee of the following documents:
  • Employee handbook
  • Safety plan
  • Annual report
  • Employee newsletter
  • Letter explaining COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1988) governing continuation of benefits following payroll separation
  • Direct payroll deposit request
  • Employee benefit booklet explaining each of the organization's offered benefits
  • Show employee any marketing or informational materials which are used with your customers or clients. Play any video or audio tapes you have prepared for employees or customers that explain what your organization is all about.
  • Explain your organization's mission and its philosophy of doing business.

"The way we do things around here..."

"We believe that our customers are..."

"Nothing is more important than..."

During your orientation discussion with the new employee, you want to take the opportunity to stress "how we do things around here." This is the best time for you to create the attitude you want your workers to have in performing their jobs. Remember that you can set the tone for the remainder of their employment with you. Make it positive and stress the things which are truly important to your organization. And, give the employee opportunity to ask questions along the way.

Be sure you show your new employee where the required employment posters are located. If it's in a lunch room/break room, take the opportunity to explain the rules for use of that part of your facility.

Make a special point of reviewing the organization's policy regarding sexual harassment. If you have five or more employees you must provide a copy of your policy to each employee in writing to meet California requirements.

Finally, if you are in one of the industries specified by California's Employment Development Department, be sure you file the required EDD notification for each new person you bring onto your payroll.

How long should this process take? That depends on you and your organization. It will likely require an hour of your time at a minimum. It will be an hour which can clarify important information and avoid misunderstandings that could take you many hours to correct later on. An hour making people feel welcome, important and giving them the information they need to succeed in your organization is indeed an hour well spent.

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