Reading the handbook, reviewing benefits details and filling out paperwork are not the best ways to welcome new employees. Relegating orientation to something to get through as quickly as possible is a missed opportunity on several levels.

Instead of scheduling a marathon session with HR, learn three simple ways orientation, especially in small- to medium-sized companies, can be an excellent retention tool.

Cake + Icing

New employees usually start with a mix of excitement and trepidation. A new job means new routines, responsibilities and processes. It is change.

Yet, many organizations fail to take advantage of the enthusiasm of new employees in a way that supports and magnifies that excitement. A great way to ensure new employees maintain that enthusiasm is via a formally scheduled orientation.

Scheduling activities and requiring the meetings to happen shows that the company is committed to the new employee’s success at their organization. Ensuring the schedule is thought out: a nice balance of paperwork, informational interviews, walking tours, etc., reflect the professionalism and thoughtfulness of the organization as well.

By thinking of ways we would want to be welcomed, information that would have been great to know earlier, and just general ways to keep the process interesting, we can make a significant, positive impact on this collection of first impressions which will have a lasting impact on employee happiness.

I am smart

On the flip side, including current employees in the orientation program helps in several ways as well.

First, by asking current employees to speak to or meet with newbies, it reinforces the regard with which the company holds those current employees. Inviting them to speak as an expert and giving them time to prepare reinforces their value to the organization and acknowledges their expertise.

Second, including current employees in orientation helps those employees stay in the loop with what the company is doing.

When employees hear over and again that the organization is growing or that a certain department is critical for the next phase in the business, seeing, meeting and training the new hires that are living proof of that message helps close the communication loop. This, in turn, reinforces the organization’s internal messaging.


In addition to strengthening feedback loops and capitalizing on new hire excitement levels, orientation is also a great way to reengage employees that may be a bit disconnected. Asking the IT guy to come out of his server room to talk tech helps him and the newbies connect.

Inviting the facilities team to give a tour of the grounds, the offices and the engineering rooms can help demystify what they do for new employees and keep the team engaged and proud of the work they provide which may not always have a direct line to the bottom line.

And the bottom line is, whether the company has 25 employees or 250, having a formal orientation program that engages current and new employees is a great way to reinforce the new employees’ decision to join the organization, remind current employees that they are valued members of the team and strengthen the organization’s culture — all of which help employee retention.