How to Conduct New Employee Orientation in 5 Quick Steps (+ Free Checklist)

Jennifer Hartman is an HR Specialist and staff writer for Fit Small Business, with over 15 years of experience in accounting , payroll, and human resources .

Charlette has over 10 years of experience in accounting and finance and 2 years of partnering with HR leaders on freelance projects. She uses this extensive experience to answer your questions about payroll.

New employee orientation is the first official experience new hires have with their employers after joining the team. It should offer a good introduction to the company’s culture and the employee’s job duties, provide an opportunity to complete any required paperwork, and include presentations, training sessions, and access to the tools needed for success.

Showing a step by step new employee orientation.Showing a step by step new employee orientation.

We recommend using a checklist to ensure you provide the best experience possible. Our is downloadable and can be modified to suit your business needs. It includes all the basic new employee orientation tasks, such as introductions that need to be made and paperwork that needs to be completed, as well as time frames to complete each task.

1. Welcome & Introductions

Once you’ve completed the process of hiring employees they are ready to begin their first day on the job. Your top priority is to welcome them and schedule introductions with key team members.

During the welcome and introductions process, make it a priority to do the following:

  • Schedule one-on-one meetings with the key staff members the new hire will work with
  • Offer cheat sheets such as the company phone list, office map, or voicemail instructions
  • Provide a list of who does what in their department in case they have questions
  • Give them a copy of the organizational chart and explain how the company is structured
  • Show them where labor law posters are located and offer to answer questions
  • Provide a building tour so they know where to locate the conference rooms, copy machines, and emergency exits
  • Describe the training they’ll receive, and when/where it will occur
  • Make sure they know where to find user manuals, documents, and reference materials
  • Have them shadow a peer, so they see what a day in the life of a co-worker looks like
  • Ensure they have all the tools they need for their job: computer, VPN, badges, keys, website URLs, and IDs
  • Orient them to the company mission, vision, values, and strategic plan
  • Schedule time with their supervisor to review their job description and answer questions

2. New Hire Paperwork

New hire paperwork is essential for a new employee, but it can be overwhelming. Consider pacing the paperwork review throughout the first few days instead of handing the new hire a stack of documents and walking away. Review each item with the new hire so they clearly understand what is expected of them.

If more than one new hire starts on the same day, you can schedule time with them together to review important policies, like the employee handbook. Items that aren’t used right away, like an employee expense form, can be included in the paperwork but reviewed later.

3. Orientation Video

It is recommended that you provide an orientation video (or a one-on-one with HR) that highlights your company history and culture and the benefits offered to new employees.

Things to include in the orientation session are:

  • Company History—Assume that your new employee knows nothing about your company. Including a document (or PowerPoint presentation) that shares the entire history of the company helps endear the new hire to their new employer.
  • Company Culture—Company culture encompasses all the many values and behaviors of the company, its employees, and its brand. Taking the time to explain the company’s culture thoroughly helps the new team member become more grounded in how their role fits into the larger picture.
  • Mission, Vision, and Values—As part of the company culture, new employees need to know and understand the company’s mission, vision, and values. The mission statement is the organization’s charter and reason for being.
  • Company Benefits—Although this is part of the welcome materials, company benefits should be highlighted during the orientation video as well. This will also be the time for the new employee to ask questions related to their benefits.

Conducting orientations for multiple new hires at once saves you time and gives new hires the opportunity to connect with people like them who are new to the company. Follow a structured format that works for all positions (you can always set up separate mini-sessions for specific training).

4. Training Sessions

Once your new hire has been welcomed and filled out all necessary paperwork, offer training sessions to orient them to their new company and position. These sessions can be mapped out using an Excel spreadsheet and can be either in person or via informative videos.

Things to include in your training sessions:

  • “How to” videos describing the software used at your company—QuickBooks, Salesforce, timeclock entries, etc.
  • Non-discrimination and sexual harassment training videos
  • Job-specific training videos
  • One-on-one meetings with all department heads to learn how their work contributes as a whole to the company

Space out orientation and training sessions throughout the week so as not to overwhelm your new hire with too much information on the first day. They need time to absorb the information given and apply it to their new role.

5. Acclimation to New Position

An important step in orientation is giving your new hire the time needed to acclimate themselves to the new role—this could mean job shadowing, time to digest the tools and software needed for their role, or simply time spent completing the tasks of the job.

Consider a training session with someone in their department who will most closely do the work they were hired to accomplish. This can help the new employee feel acclimated to the position and learn how to best do their job.

We recommend waiting until Day Two before having the employee start training for their actual job. This will give them time to digest the company culture and complete all necessary new hire paperwork.

Orientation for Remote Employees

Orientation for remote employees, while similar to in-house, is specific to a virtual environment. All welcomes, new hire paperwork, orientation presentations, and training must be done online. Some best practices include:

  • Schedule an all-company virtual meeting to introduce the new hire to the rest of the team. This can be done during a normal full company meeting or separately on the day of hire.
  • Send new hire paperwork before the first day. This can ensure that the paperwork is completed in a timely manner and the new hire does not have to spend their entire first day completing documents. Be sure to have a procedure in place for completing the I-9 paperwork. Documents must be reviewed in person by an authorized representative (such as a notary public).
  • Host your orientation video online. If the orientation is “in person” consider using a video service, such as Zoom, to host your online orientation. The remote employees can meet with the in-house employees virtually while you conduct the orientation session. If your orientation is a video, simply house the video online and provide a link to the new hire to view.
  • Training sessions, like the orientation video, will be virtual. Be sure to discuss the sessions with your new hire after they have viewed the training in case they have any questions.
  • Check in with your new hire virtually on a daily basis to ensure they understand their work and are settling into their new role.

Bottom Line

Employees are an asset to your company if they’re able to perform the job you’ve hired them for. To ensure that, make sure your new hires get off to a good start with a comprehensive orientation process. Our new hire orientation checklist does more than make sure you manage all the new hire paperwork. If used, it will help reduce turnover, engage your new hires, and reduce the time it takes for your new employees to be productive.

Keep in mind that orientation is just one part of the full employee onboarding process and helps the employee acclimate to their new environment.