How do I conduct a proper orientation for a new employee?

Answered by Debra Thompson, President, TG & Associates

I’ve heard you speak and have read your articles on hiring and developing top performers. I know that you believe the new hire orientation process is critical to long-term success. We have just hired a new print buyer and he starts work in two weeks. What steps do you recommend so that I can get him started right?

You are correct about the importance of the orientation. It needs your personal attention as an owner/manager in order to effectively convey the goals, aspirations and culture of your company. No one can do that as well as you can. The start up plan for a new employee is a wise investment of your time and energy because it increases the probability that the individual will be a productive member of your team. Further, it establishes a positive relationship that reduces the potential for turnover. Whatever you do, you want to make the new employee feel welcome and help him overcome the new job jitters.

  1. First, walk him through all of the necessary forms for payroll, benefits and other required legal forms and answer all of his questions. Discuss all taxes and withholding procedures. Explain work hours, your time clock or time card, and payroll procedures. Review his total compensation and benefits package and any of the ground rules for getting coverage for him and his family. Give him a clear picture of what to expect in that first paycheck.

  2. Next, review the job description with him to make sure everything is understood. Have him read and sign the job description to acknowledge that you have gone through it with him and he understands it. Identify any of the responsibilities that the employee may feel tentative about so that you can formulate a training program to deal with those weaknesses. File the original in his employee file. Give him a copy also for his future reference.

  3. Review your employee handbook with the employee. Review vacation and time-off policies. Be clear about drug abuse and harassment rules. Again, have him sign that he has read and understands the handbook. Then file the signed acknowledgement form in his employee file.

  4. Initiate a training plan for any of the requirements of the job description on which he may need training or reinforcement. Establish a realistic timeframe for his training and identify how any tuition or seminar costs will be covered if appropriate. Set expectations for his progress which are clear and reasonable.

  5. It is extremely beneficial to assign a buddy to the new hire. This should be an employee who can act as a sponsor to help him get acquainted with the culture of the company and help him learn about the things that are not in your employee handbook but are useful to help him get along with everyone else. The buddy can introduce him to the other employees and conduct a tour of the facilities. The buddy explains the unwritten rules that every organization has. The buddy should be a volunteer and well acquainted with the company -- someone who really knows the ropes. It is not essential that the sponsor have the technical skills needed for training since they are only responsible for helping this new person feel welcome and comfortable. Plan some form of reward or extra compensation for the buddy for doing a good job. Perhaps you could authorize and reimburse the buddy to take the new-hire to lunch once a week for a few weeks so they can talk about things outside of the “store.”

  6. Most importantly, communicate with the new-hire daily for the first month or so. It only takes a few minutes to find out how they are doing and what you can do to help them succeed.

Taking the necessary steps to develop this new hire for success rather than for failure is a win/win situation for the company and for the employee. Build a strong team member from day one.

Good luck,


Debra Thompson is President of TG & Associates, specializing in Human Resources for the Graphics Industries. She can be reached at 877-842-7762 (toll free) or Visit for FREE Tip Sheets on Managing and Motivating people.
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