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What Should Happen in the First 90 Days of New Employee Orientation?

Jamie Johnson

To start employees off on the right foot, make sure your orientation helps them feel welcome and answers all of their questions.

The first 90 days of employment are a critical time for new hires. New employees often feel vulnerable, out of their element and unsure of themselves. Unfortunately, many businesses do little to help their employees acclimate to new roles. Instead of providing a welcoming environment, they approach new hires with lofty expectations, and little training to go along with it. That's probably why recruiting firm Jobvite found that 29% of new hires leave within the first 90 days. Of those who quit, 45% say it was because the job wasn't what they thought it would be.

To set up your new employees for success, you should have a new-employee orientation program that ensures they know who everyone is, have all of the tools they need to do their job, and are able to polish off all of their required paperwork.

What is new employee orientation?

Employee orientation is the process of welcoming employees into your company. The goal is to make new employees feel welcome and set them up for success in their new positions. This is typically done by giving them an overview of the company's culture, values and different departments. They'll fill out any necessary HR paperwork and get set up in their new workstation.

Most importantly, new employees should meet their team and leaders in the company. This will help them feel comfortable and show them where to turn for answers.

Why is new employee orientation important?

Employee orientation lays the foundation for that person's experience with your company. It sets a bad tone for the days and months ahead if they show up for their first day only to find their workstation isn't set up and no one knows who they are.

In comparison, an effective new employee orientation can provide multiple benefits:

  • The employee gets accurate information about the company.
  • It helps them clearly understand their role and job expectations.
  • It sets them up for success right from the start.
  • They'll know who to turn to if problems arise.
  • It establishes open communication between the employee and their manager.
  • It can improve employee retention rates at your company.

What should employee orientation include?

Typically, a new employee orientation begins with the employee filling out their paperwork for the human resources department. This paperwork usually includes a W-4 form and a direct deposit form.

Orientation also provides basic information the employee will need to know for everyday work, such as how to enter and exit the building, how to request time off, and any relevant safety information.

Employees will also learn about their benefits, company policies and what an average workday looks like. The orientation usually includes giving them a tour of the building, introducing them to their team, and setting them up in their new workspace.

There's a lot of vital information to review, but it's also important to use this time to make the new employee feel comfortable. It's a good idea to take them out for coffee or lunch so they can begin getting accustomed to their new role.

How to plan a successful 90-day orientation for new hires

Given how expensive and time-consuming employee turnover is, it's more important than ever to get your onboarding process right. Let's look at six ways you can set your new employees up for success from the start.

1. Set everything up before they arrive.

A successful employee onboarding process starts well before the new hire's first day on the job. Make sure their workstation is ready and that they have all the equipment they'll need. Make a folder for them that outlines your company policies and employee benefits information.

Also make sure other staff members know when the new person will start. There's nothing more awkward for a new employee than getting blank stares on their first day of work. It can be helpful to come up with an onboarding checklist, to make sure you haven't overlooked any part of the process.

2. Be there to welcome them on day one.

When your new hire shows up for their first day of work, someone needs to be there to greet them. The first day sets the stage for the course of their employment, so you want to get this right.

Your only real goal for that first day is to show them that they made the right choice by coming to work at your company. You can do this by introducing them to their team and other employees they'll be working with.

Give them a tour of the building, showing them where the restrooms, copy machines and exits are. It's also a good idea to explain the different departments of the company and what each one does. Let them know what they'll need every day when they show up to work, and what an average day looks like in the office. If possible, have other employees help you out with the various orientation tasks.

At the end of the day, your new employee should head home knowing that they made the right choice and feel excited about their future with your company.

3. Have them fill out their paperwork.

The paperwork is probably the most tedious aspect of new employee orientation, but it has to be done. Here is some of the paperwork that you'll want new employees to fill out:

  • W-4: Form W-4 is used to track employees' tax withholdings.
  • I-9: Form I-9 confirms the new hire's employment eligibility. They'll need a copy of their driver's license as well.
  • Employee handbook: Your employee handbook should cover the rules and expectations in place at your company.
  • Overview of company policies: This includes information on how you handle matters like sexual harassment, time off and maternity leave.
  • Benefits orientation: This is where you'll review the health insurance and any other perks or benefits your company provides its employees.
  • Direct deposit form: Employees will need to provide their banking information so that you can pay them by direct deposit.
  • Other paperwork: New-hire paperwork could also include a nondisclosure agreement, noncompete agreement, confidentiality agreement or any other forms relevant to your employees.


4. Introduce them to their team and other employees.

A big part of new employee orientation is helping that person get to know the people they'll be working with, because their co-workers will play a big role in their job satisfaction.

Data shows that 50% of employees will stay at a job they don't like because they've formed positive relationships with other employees. For comparison, 65% of employees would leave a job because of poor communication at work. 

If possible, the hiring manager should take the new employee to lunch. It's also a good idea to assign that person a buddy who will assist in onboarding activities over the next 90 days. This buddy will be someone for the new employee to turn to if they have any questions.

Going above and beyond to welcome your new staff members will help them establish an emotional connection with your business right from the start.

5. Review their role and job expectations.

Yes, your new employees probably read the job description when they applied, but it's a good idea to go over it with them on the first day. Give them a written description of their role and responsibilities, and review it with them in person.

It's important to help new employees understand how their job contributes to the company as a whole. Employees will feel more connected to their job if they know what their contribution is.

Make sure they also know who their manager or supervisor is and who they'll be checking in with on a regular basis. Answer any questions the employee has, and let them know you'll follow up with them in the coming weeks and months to see how they're doing.

6. Discuss their career goals.

Take some time to talk to your new employees about their short-term and long-term career goals. Today's employees want to work for organizations that invest in their professional development. This is especially true for millennials: 87% say career growth and professional development opportunities are things they look for in a job.

Ask your new employees what their career goals are, and help them set measurable goals for their first 90 days of employment. You can check in with them on their progress and set longer-term goals going forward. [Read related article: How Professional Development Opportunities for Employees Help Your Small Business]

A lot happens during employee orientation, and it's important to make new employees feel welcome on their first day. But even after you ace this, you still need to check in with them regularly over their first 90 days, because this time period will make or break their experience with your company.

Once your new employee has been there for 30 days, schedule some time to sit down with them and talk about how things are going. Discuss their progress and offer guidance for how they can be successful going forward.

At the end of the 90 days, you can sit down again with that employee and see what progress they've made toward their goals. This gives them a time to identify any areas where they can improve and to set new goals for their first year. 

Image Credit: fizkes / Getty Images
Jamie Johnson
business.com Contributing Writer
Jamie Johnson is a freelance writer who teaches others how to start their own freelance writing careers. She covers topics related to small business, entrepreneurship, and personal finance. She currently writes for clients like Business Insider, Bankrate, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Quicken Loans.