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Job Orientation: What is It and How to Make it a Success

There is a lot to think about when hiring a new employee. You need to complete their paperwork for payroll and tax purposes, make sure they’re trained in any health and safety procedures, help them set up their workspace and get them updated on any company-specific procedures they need to know about. These procedures can be a lot for both parties to deal with. Fortunately, you can cover all of this in a job orientation.

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What is a job orientation?

Job orientation is the term used to describe the on-the-job training required to get a new hire up to speed with a company’s practices and requirements. Job orientation differs from training in that it is more company-focused and may include tasks such as completing paperwork and meeting coworkers.

Job orientation covers tasks such as:

  • Completing any hiring-related paperwork 
  • Introducing the new hire to their supervisors and coworkers 
  • Showing the new hire around the building 
  • Setting up any access to IT systems 
  • Initial health and safety training 
  • Providing equipment required for the job 
  • Providing information about company-specific policies 

Once job orientation is concluded, the next step is onboarding. The onboarding process may include having an employee shadow someone who’s doing the same work. If this isn’t an option, the employee may be given a chance to complete a few tasks under supervision to ensure they’re confident before working alone.

Why is job orientation important?

Orientation is an important part of the hiring process because it gives the employer time to complete all the onboarding tasks they need to do, while also ensuring that the employee has a smooth experience. Starting a new job can be intimidating, even for someone who has been in the workforce a long time. Orientation reduces the challenges of starting a new job and helps the new employee meet people and get used to their new working environment as quickly as possible.

Having a clear and smooth orientation process, as well as good policies for onboarding employees once orientation is completed, can help reduce turnover. Employees who feel supported during their first few weeks on the job may be more likely to feel comfortable asking for help if they experience issues. This could in turn help reduce job abandonment and improve productivity.

How to run orientation for a job

The key to running a successful job orientation is communication. The orientation process should help new employees feel comfortable and confident in their positions. To run a successful orientation, consider the following:

Provide information in advance

Provide new employees with as much information as possible before they start the job. Email them with their start day and time, as well as any other information such as the dress code and whether they need to bring tools or equipment with them. If the employee is remote and you’re doing a digital orientation, let them know what platform the orientation will be on so they have time to set up any software they may need.

Have any equipment prepared for their start date

Reduce any awkwardness by having everything the employee needs set up and ready for them to start work. If the employee is remote, send them everything they’ll need well in advance so delayed deliveries or technical hitches don’t cause problems with their orientation. For on-site team members, have their work areas ready to go and any accounts they’re going to need set up so they don’t have to wait for them to be ready. If you’re going to need to take photos for employee IDs, do these early on so they have their own ID cards and feel like a member of the team as soon as possible

Plan the activities for the day

Plan the activities you’ll have the new employee do on their first day or for however long the orientation period lasts. Give them a printout of the schedule so they know what to expect. Include some breaks in the plan, and make a point of showing them the office break room. Also let them know about any nearby spots they could visit if they want to take their lunch off-site. These little touches will go a long way toward making them feel more comfortable at work.

Cover health and safety issues first

Before you start covering job-specific tasks, make sure health and safety issues are covered. For most office jobs, this will simply mean covering the fire alarm procedure as well as highlighting exits and gathering points. For jobs that involve dangerous materials or hazardous environments, the safety part of the induction could be more in-depth.

Introduce the new team member to important people

As part of the orientation, introduce the new employee to anyone they should know. This doesn’t just mean their immediate supervisor and teammates. It’s also useful for them to know who their contacts in payroll and HR should be. Provide a handbook with a list of important phone numbers and emails so they know who to contact if they have any issues.

Make time for questions

The orientation shouldn’t be a data dump from the employer’s side. Give the employee a chance to ask questions they might have. Keep in mind that a nervous employee might freeze up when asked if they have any questions, only to think of them later. Be prepared to spend some time at the start of a scheduled break answering anything that may have come to mind.

Use icebreakers if you have several new hires

If you’ve hired several people for a new team, run an icebreaker so the team can get to know each other. Keep it short and simple. The goal is to help people learn each other’s names at this stage, rather than jump straight into trust-building exercises. Provide a space for remote and hybrid workers to communicate, such as a Slack channel, so no one feels out of the loop.

Distinguish between orientation and onboarding

Explain the orientation process to the new hire, and if the position is going to have a longer training period for onboarding, make this clear to them. For some positions, the training may take place during a probationary period. If this is the case, explain the job expectations, how the training period is assessed and what the employee can expect to happen once they start the training.

Ask for feedback

Just as you’d ask someone who is leaving the company to conduct an exit interview, it’s worth asking people who have just gone through the onboarding process to provide feedback on that part of dealing with the company. Regularly survey new hires to learn what they thought about the interview process, orientation and onboarding. Use the feedback they provide to improve the process for the next intake of employees. Where possible, get recent hires involved with welcoming future intakes. Those who have only been at the company for a few months themselves will remember the challenges they faced and are often useful for helping newcomers settle in.

Job orientation FAQs

How long does job orientation last?

Job orientation typically takes between one day and one week, depending on the job in question. More complex jobs may have a longer onboarding process.

Who performs job orientation?

Orientation may be overseen by a new hire’s team leader or a senior member. The person running the orientation should have a good understanding of the new hire’s day-to-day work tasks.

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