Organizational Wellness

Employment Orientation 101: What It is and How to Create a Successful Program

Jan 13, 2023
Last Updated May 24, 2024

Have you ever shown up to a party where you don’t know anybody, but they all know each other and have shared language and inside jokes that make no sense to you? It’s so uncomfortable. You grab several rounds of appetizers to occupy yourself and consider leaving early so you can slip into some comfy PJs at home and make a dent in your Netflix List instead.

The bold of you will feel comfortable hopping in on the jokes and feel at home right away. But for many people, it’d be helpful to have someone by your side explaining what’s happening and actively including you in conversations and activities.

This is what employee orientation can feel like when done well. With the right approach, you can create a successful employment orientation process to help new employees feel welcomed and comfortable in their new role, create buy-in to your company’s mission, and set expectations regarding company culture.

In fact, according to Gallup, 70% of employees who report having exceptional onboarding experiences also believe they have “the best possible job.” But only 12% of US employees believe their company onboards employees well. So there’s room for organizations to level up their orientation and onboarding processes.

Set your new employees up for success with a thorough orientation, so they’re not awkwardly going back to the chips and salsa, hoping someone will talk to them.


What is employment orientation?

Employment orientation is a process used by HR managers to welcome new employees to the company and their new job on their first day or several days.

This often involves providing information about the company, discussing culture and policies, explaining expectations around their role and work performance, and introducing them to key people in the organization.

What’s the difference between employee orientation and employee onboarding?

While employment orientation is the overall process of introducing new employees to the company and setting them up for success, employee onboarding is more specifically focused on their role.

Onboarding will cover how essential processes work, the first tasks or projects a new employee will work on, setting initial goals, and giving them access to the tools and programs they need to do their job. Management onboarding ensures new leaders learn the management culture and important processes and policies related to leading their teams.

Some companies use employment orientation and onboarding interchangeably, while others may have separate processes for each. The important thing is to make sure new employees feel welcomed and supported so they can do their jobs effectively.

Why is guidance important for employees?

Orientation is critical for new employees because it helps them feel comfortable and confident in their new role from day one. By giving them a thorough introduction to the company, its culture and policies, and expectations around their performance, they will be able to start on the right foot and avoid common mistakes or confusion.

Builds employee confidence

New employees are eager to get started but may feel nervous or uncertain about what’s expected of them. A well-structured employment orientation can help them understand their role and build confidence in their abilities. And by providing information on who to turn to with questions, new hires can feel empowered to seek support as needed.

Improves employee retention

Employee turnover can be reduced by ensuring new employees feel supported and engaged from the start.

Having no orientation can leave new employees confused and overwhelmed, which can be demotivating and make them more likely to leave the company. On the other hand, a good orientation can retain more employees and help them feel excited about their role, trusting of the business, and valued by the company.

Creates buy-in to the company’s mission

New hire orientation is your time to make a good first impression. So take this opportunity to help new employees buy into the company’s mission and understand how they fit into it. When new employees feel invested in the company, they are more likely to be motivated and engaged in their work.

What should you include in employment orientation?

With the right approach, you can help new employees feel welcome, create buy-in to your company’s mission, and set them up for success.

  1. Introduction to the company and its culture

The first thing any employment orientation should include is a high-level intro to the organization. Share the company’s history, mission, and goals with new hires, so they understand how the company got to where it is and where it’s going.

Introduce the company culture by discussing values and general workplace expectations like punctuality, dress code, and communication norms.

  1. Overview of policies and benefits

Sharing information about company policies and eligibility for employee benefits is also important to include in employee orientation to ensure new hires understand the rules of the road.

Be sure to cover:

  • the company’s 401k program
  • paid time off (PTO) policy
  • how to request vacation time
  • when to expect paychecks
  • how health insurance works
  • other benefits and perks employees have, like a remote work stipend or wellness program
  • any safety guidelines employees need to abide by

And any other key human resources topics that are essential to your organization.

  1. Tour of the workplace or virtual HQ

Include a tour of the workplace if you have an office — or the virtual HQ if you’re a remote company. This can help new hires get familiar with their workspace and feel more connected to other team members.

If you have a virtual HQ like Slack or Microsoft Teams, take some time to explain how different channels are used and any communication expectations.

  1. Introductions to key people in the organization

New employees need to understand who key people in the organization are so they know how the company is structured and who to go to for various questions.

Start at a high level and tell new hires about the leadership team and any investors. Then introduce the different departments and how they relate to each other. Introduce them to their manager and coworkers in similar roles or departments. And finally, reiterate who’s on the HR team and who to go to for specific questions.

  1. Required employee trainings

Include any required training that new employees need to undergo in employment orientation. This might include courses on compliance, diversity and anti-discrimination, time management, conflict resolution, or other topics relevant to your organization.

If employees complete trainings on their own time (such as through video or an education platform), cover how to access the training and whether there are any deadlines for completion.

  1. Job duties and performance expectations

Recap a new hire’s job duties — including daily tasks and responsibilities — and performance expectations. That way, you can ensure new employees understand the key aspects of their role and what they need to do to succeed.

Discuss their main performance metrics and how success will be measured. Tie their duties back to company goals or objectives, so they understand how their role fits into the bigger picture.

  1. Team-building activities

While employment orientation is all about setting new employees up for success, it’s also important to foster a sense of camaraderie and teamwork. Consider including team-building activities in employment orientation that help new hires get to know their coworkers and build relationships.

As a baseline, pair new employees with a seasoned peer who can serve as their onboarding buddy. Some workers find it easier to ask questions to a peer rather than their manager or the HR department. And schedule some time for the employee to get acquainted with their team with some icebreakers.

Consider other fun team-building activities like a game, wellness class, cooking class, or scavenger hunt. There are options for all these activities in-person or remotely.

What should you do after new employee orientation?

With the right approach, you can create a successful employment orientation process to help your organization thrive and set new hires up for long-term success.

After an employee feels comfortable, continue supporting and engaging them. This might include regular check-ins with their manager, regular team-building activities or trainings, mentorship opportunities, or other tools that can help them stay connected with their coworkers and company culture.

Overall, employment orientation should be just the beginning of a great relationship between the employee and the organization.

Next, learn more about the employee onboarding process and how to make sure your new hire understands how to be successful in their role and at your company. From responsibilities to effective workplace communication, to—most importantly—optimizing their work-life wellness journey, the onboarding process is yet another step to happier, healthier employees.  

Interested in finding out how you can increase team wellbeing during the onboarding process? Talk to a Wellbeing Specialist today

Company healthcare costs drop by up to 35% with Wellhub! (* Based on proprietary research comparing healthcare costs of active Wellhub users to non-users.) Talk to a Wellbeing Specialist to see how we can help reduce your healthcare spending!




Wellhub Editorial Team

The Wellhub Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.


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